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.