The Space of Imagination
October 1, 2011 2:24 AM   Subscribe

Dr. Dan Durda [bio; vita] is a veritable Renaissance Man, having hobbies that others would call careers; most notably, he is an accomplished astronomer, jet pilot, cave diver, and Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists.

Oh yeah, about that art stuff -- there's a lot

Dr. Durda began producing professional-level astronomical artwork in the mid 90's and has since become a favorite among collectors for his scientifically plausible compositions. He worked with acrylics [gallery 1; 2] from 1995 to 2004, at which time he switched to a digital [gallery 1; 2] platform.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a list of selected acrylics from gallery 2 above:
  • Double Trouble (August '95): A binary near-Earth asteroid on a collision course with Earth. The impact of the pair will make a doublet crater somewhere on the planet.
  • Red Giant Sunset (September '95): A red giant and its white dwarf companion set over a mountain lake on an alien planet.
  • Supernova! (December '95): A gas giant planet is stripped of its atmosphere, and its moons turned into mega-comets, as the local sun explodes.
  • Starcloud (November '96): Two moons near a large star-forming region are illuminated by their local star, out of frame, to the upper right.
  • Caldera (February '97): A blue-green gas giant fills the twilight over a seething caldera on an alien moon.
  • Sunset on a Tropical Moon (May '97): A painting donated to The Planetary Society to benefit the Carl Sagan Fund for the Future. This painting is dedicated to Carl and the memory of his enthusiasm for the search for life in the universe. The recent discovery of a number of Jupiter-like worlds orbiting Sun-like stars hints that there may be many stages for the play of life. Here, I've depicted a serene sunset on a tropical moon orbiting one of those planets. The abundant clear water and lush sea cliffs bespeak a world teaming with life. The tropical, Hawaiian scene depicted in this painting is doubly meaningful for me; I last spoke with Carl at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences in Hawaii in October of 1995.
  • Emerald Sea (June '98): Another cluster, this time in green.
  • Collision in the Kuiper Belt (June '00): Two icy worlds collide at 1 km/s in the Kuiper Belt. The Sun, 45 AU away, shines as a very bright star embedded in the glow of the zodiacal dust cloud. The planets Jupiter and Neptune are visible to the right. Although you would not actually see the myriad other objects that make up the Kuiper Belt, they have been shown here to give the impression of orbiting in an extensive disk of icy worlds beyond Pluto.
  • Bubble Gum Moon (June '00): If you ever wondered where bubble gum ice cream comes from....
  • Cosmic Chasm (January '01): I am intrigued by the possibilities for beautiful vistas offered by moons of some of the many Jovian planets now being discovered around nearby, Sun-like stars.
  • New Horizons (August '01): Artwork commissioned for the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Pluto's horizon spans the foreground, looking past its moon, Charon, toward the distant, star-like Sun.
  • Hawaiian Night (March '02): Artwork commissioned to represent a bright, greenish star cluster illuminating a beach evoking a "Hawaiian" feeling.
posted by troll (5 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
His work can be procured at cafepress (posters and calendars) and Nova Space Art (originals).
posted by troll at 2:24 AM on October 1, 2011

Phil Plait highlighted Durda on his blog the other day, they were classmates at Michigan. Thanks for the post highlighting him here.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:20 AM on October 1, 2011

Well, that's better than those "Artist's impression" renders where they use a generic 3D render to illustrate alien worlds in news media.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:25 AM on October 1, 2011

Phil Plait highlighted Durda on his blog the other day, they were classmates at Michigan. Thanks for the post highlighting him here.

posted by alby at 6:22 AM on October 1, 2011

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonsai across the 8th dimension was actually a documentary about his life.

And yes, he does drink Dos Aquis.

His next goal is to become president of Russia.

Seriously, it is awesome that there are folks on this planet that can accomplish that much...
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:52 PM on October 1, 2011

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