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SciArt of the Day: The Painting that Inspired Sagan’s COSMOS

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Starseeds © Jon Lomberg

“Young stars burst forth from a nebula, like seeds spreading through the galaxy. Just as seeds grow flowers that make more seeds, nebulae form stars that eventually form new nebulae. Cosmic cycles of life and death are apparent at all scales.

This painting was the inspiration for the dandelion motif that runs through the TV series COSMOS. Carl Sagan did not want his “spaceship of the imagination” to have a realistic, technological feel, and this painting brought forth the idea that the spaceship, when seen from outside, resembled a seed, blowing through the cosmos.”

-Artist Jon Lomberg


Artist Jon Lomberg was Carl Sagan’s favorite painter and still collaborates with NASA today, as featured on Symbiartic previously.

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Starseeds by Jon Lomberg

Acrylic on board.

You can see more about this painting and purchase prints at Jon’s website.

Portfolio Gallery




Galaxy Garden Project

Giclee Prints

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All through September, we’re bringing you new science-art of the day, challenging ideas about science communication.

Glendon Mellow About the Author: Glendon Mellow is a fine artist, illustrator and tattoo designer working in oil and digital media based in Toronto, Canada. He tweets @FlyingTrilobite and is on Instagram. You can see Glendon's work-in-progress at The Flying Trilobite blog and portfolio at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. 2:07 pm 09/24/2012

    oooh, neat! Good call.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Quinn the Eskimo 12:35 am 09/30/2012

    Well, when was it painted? That little piddling detail might help.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Glendon Mellow 9:31 pm 09/30/2012

    Hey Quinn. We did provide years on most of the SciArt of the Day. In this case, the artist himself doesn’t have dates on his website.

    I’ll see if I can find out.

    From time to time, people have also pointed out we do not usually include the size of the art work. Personally, I think that doesn’t matter too much for most 2D images being viewed online. Maybe others disagree?

    Link to this
  4. 4. Glendon Mellow 8:11 am 10/24/2012

    Quinn, Jon let me know this was painted in 1978.

    Link to this

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