Art and Nature

Art, Science, and Inquiry

Astronomy

How have scientists used art to build and share their understanding of astronomy?

Astronomy and Art

Astronomy: The scientific study of celestial bodies, such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies. Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, dating back at least four thousand years.

Explore how different scientists have documented celestial bodies through art. What questions were they asking about the stars, planets, comets, and galaxies? What techniques did they use to guide their observations? What role did imagination play in their scientific processes?

Throughout time, scientists have studied astronomy to better understand the movement of stars, Earth's position in space, and later, the universe itself. By looking closely at the objects people created to express their knowledge of astronomy, we can consider how they made sense of the universe.

Spotlights

Bring It Together

Once the astronomy artworks above have been explored, consider the following activities:

  • Adapt one of the objects into a new media format (movie, video game, meme, social media post, blog, website, etc...). How can the visual information be translated to the new format? How can other elements of the object be translated to the new format?

  • Research the development of one of the scientific topics covered in the spotlights (the moon, the planets, the constellations) from the time the object was created to today. In what ways has our knowledge about the topic changed since the object was created? In what ways has our knowledge about the topic stayed the same?

  • Explore modern astronomy art and compare it to the historical materials in this section.

  • Write a letter to one of the scientists.

    • Tell them what you think they did well when conveying scientific information in their work.
    • Tell them what you think they could do to improve their artistic representation of scientific ideas.
    • Ask them questions. What do you wonder about their artistic process? What do you wonder about their scientific process? What do you wonder about their finished work?
  • Create an artwork to convey your own scientific understanding of the celestial bodies in the universe.