"Visions of the Universe" is a new exhibition at London’s National Maritime Museum that chronicles centuries of human contact with space with more than 100 universally appealing large-format images. Here, an iconic shot of Buzz Aldrin and Old Glory on the moon from the Apollo 11 mission.

The Butterfly Nebula, taken from the Hubble Telescope in 2009. "The death of a star very much like the Sun allows us to glimpse our own distant future. As the star’s internal nuclear furnace begins to fail its outer layers are expelled back into space, forming a beautiful ‘Planetary Nebula.’ Hubble’s camera is equipped with special colour filters to isolate the light from various chemicals. This image has been coloured to highlight nitrogen in red and sulphur in white."

Venus, in 1991.

Jupiter’s four largest moons (of over 60!) are shown here. "From left to right: Io, the moon closest to Jupiter, is the most volcanically active object in the Solar System; Europa has a smooth icy surface scarred by numerous cracks; Ganymede and Callisto are giants among moons, their surfaces dotted by many impact craters."

This pic of Mars was taken from orbit, and reveals evidence of water from way, way back in the red planet’s past.

That’s Earth in the far background of this photo of astronaut Michael Gernhardt taken in 1995.


Oh, Heavens: An Awe-Inspiring Show Of Space Photography

The "Visions of the Universe" exhibition at London’s National Maritime Museum delivers the stars.

When a generation sat glued to their TV sets to watch Neil Armstrong take a walk in 1969, the vision in grainy black-and-white opened up the heavens to a whole new world of exploration—and observing exploration from home. Forty-three years after man met moon, Curiosity’s perfect landing on the red planet streamed in stunning high-definition on our computer screens (this sound-enhanced version still gives me goosebumps).

Visions of the Universe, an exhibition at London’s National Maritime Museum, gives gravity-bound visitors a stunning view of what stretches out above the atmosphere.

The journey begins way back in the 16th century, with Galileo’s refinements to the telescope that detailed intricacies in the night sky unable to be seen by the naked eye. His astronomical revelations, of course, shed new light on planetary orbits and stars. From there, our solar system comes to life in more than 100 images taken by NASA, the Russian space program, amateur photographers—and even Turner-prize winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans, who gets in on the action with prints from his space-based series.

In addition to these large-scale visuals, a massive, custom "Mars Window" offers an even more immersive glimpse into our current galactic explorations. The curved 42-by-13-foot wall projects pics taken from NASA’s Curiosity Rover and gives the effect that you’re gazing out onto the dust and rocks yourself (keep a keen eye out for Tharks).

There’s something about the images—or the universe depicted in the images—that necessitates slowing down on Earth. The celestial bodies we’re observing are entirely real and exceptionally beautiful and each one of us is an incredibly small, but not insignificant, speck in the grand scheme of things.

Experience Visions of the Universe at the National Maritime Museum through September 15.

(h/t It’s Nice That)

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