Visualizing the Cosmos

Visualizing the Cosmos

Jon Lomberg
Jon Lomberg

Presenter: Jon Lomberg

Date: Friday, April 26, 2002

Time: 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Location: IR/PS Robinson Auditorium, UCSD Campus, La Jolla (directions and parking information)

Live Webcast:
Archived Webcasts available at:
Courtesy: California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Calit²]

Jon Lomberg has created some of the most widely seen images of the Cosmos in print, film, and television. For 25 years he was Carl Sagan's principal artistic collaborator. Currently, he is creating visualizations for the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii showing and explaining new discoveries in space. Mr. Lomberg will discuss the role of the artist of science, illustrated with examples of his artwork.

Jon Lomberg is one of the world's most distinguished artists inspired by astronomy. He specializes in designing and executing visual presentations about astronomy in all media, including exhibit design, film and television, computer graphic, print and electronic media. In addition to creating his own art, he has managed and led teams of artists and technicians on major projects using sophisticated image technology.

Lomberg's illustrations in books and magazines are well known in Europe, Russia, Japan, and North America. He has had the unique honor designing artistic artifacts placed aboard NASA's Voyager and Mars 2003 missions; and the Russian Space Agency's Mars 96 and Cosmos Solar Sail missions.

His large, detailed and accurate painting of the Milky Way galaxy is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. He has designed exhibits for NASM and other major museums and in the U.S. and Canada. Currently, he is designing display and informational materials for the Gemini 8m Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Jon Lomberg was the principal artistic collaborator of astronomer Carl Sagan. From 1972 until Sagan's death in 1996, Lomberg illustrated most of Sagan's books and magazine articles, and he was Chief Artist for Sagan's classic television series. For his work on COSMOS, Lomberg received in 1981 a Prime Time EMMY Award for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Creative Technical Crafts." Lomberg has art directed many other science programs for television and videotape.

In 1983, Lomberg's videotape with Carl Sagan about nuclear winter was broadcast worldwide and won first prize at the Vermont World Peace Film Festival in 1984.

From 1995 to 1997 Lomberg worked on the Warner Brothers film CONTACT, as Astronomical Visual Consultant. In this capacity, Lomberg designed and storyboarded many of film's astronomical animation sequences including the three-minute zoom out from Earth that opens the movie.

The artist has also created some of the most unusual, durable, and far-flung artifacts ever produced by the human species. Lomberg's design for the cover of the Voyager Interstellar Record, predicted to last for over a thousand million years, may be the longest lived piece of human art ever made. He has also created a sundial and CD ROM "time capsule" to be launched aboard
NASA's 2003 Mars lander. He also has designed a 10,000-year nuclear waste marker for the United States Department of Energy. Lomberg is the world's most experienced designer in creating messages for other times and other beings.

In 1998, on the occasion of his 50th birthday, the Jon Lomberg was singularly honored by the International Astronautical Union, who officially designated an asteroid near Mars, previously called 6446 1990QL, as Asteroid Lomberg, in recognition of his many achievements in the field of science communication.

He has been commissioned by NASA many times to create images, posters, and displays, including a large graphic used at the Paris Air Show in 1987 and a poster on stellar evolution for the Space Telescope Science Institute. Lomberg has been closely associated with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) since 1977, when he was the Design Director on the team that created the Voyager Interstellar Record. These messages for extraterrestrials are destined to travel in interstellar space forever, unless found. He has worked with NASA and the SETI Institute on popular and educational projects using SETI as a theme, and was Project Artist for the "Life in the Universe" science curriculum for grades 4-9, sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation, currently being introduced in schools throughout the United States. Lomberg painted a series of images showing the evolution of life on Earth, and the appearance of the Universe at different scales.

The artist has also illustrated two editions of the well-known bioastronomy textbook, The Search for Life in the Universe, by astronomers Donald Goldsmith and Tobias Owen. Lomberg has collaborated with Goldsmith on many other astronomy books, including Einstein's Greatest Blunder and Worlds Unnumbered.

The artist was the Project Director for a CD ROM called Visions of Mars, produced by The Planetary Society and Time Warner Interactive Group. This disc was originally launched aboard Russia's Mars 96 lander and will be aboard NASA's 2003 Mars lander. It is intended as a gift for the future human explorers of the Red Planet. Lomberg served as Editor-in-Chief for this project, which documents humanity's long fascination with Mars as reflected in science fiction stories, artwork, and popular culture. He has also played a role in the design of the MAPEX sensor, a long-term nanotechnology sensor that is part of this project and was launched aboard NASA's Pathfinder mission and landed on Mars in 1997.

Beginning in 1975, Lomberg has created award-winning radio documentaries about many topics in space and Earth sciences, broadcast internationally on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program Ideas. Since 1981, when he designed the Planetary Society's well-known sailing ship logo, Jon Lomberg has worked with that organization on many projects in the role of Senior Consultant. He has lectured on art and science at many universities, laboratories, and museums around the world, including the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, the Milwaukee Museum of Art and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. He has twice received the appointment of Regent's Lecturer for the University of California, at Irvine and at San Diego.


*1979 Certificate of Excellence from the American Institute of Graphic Arts for the cover of Broca's Brain

*1981 Prime Time Emmy Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Creative Technical Crafts for the TV series Cosmos

*1983 DESI Award from the magazine Graphic Design USA for the nuclear winter artwork in PARADE magazine

*1984 Prize for Best Video Documentary at the Vermont World Peace Film Festival for the videotape of the multi-media show "Nuclear Winter"

*1987 Armstrong Award for Documentary from the Columbia University School of Journalism for the radio program "Halley's Comet"

*1996 Annual Best Children's Science Book Award given by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the "Life In The Universe"
curriculum for grades 4-9, in the Life Science category.

*1998 Asteroid 6446 1990QL is officially renamed Asteroid Lomberg by the International Astronautical Union.

Exhibit Design

ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTER 3 Dimensional Galaxy 1976 SETI Exhibit 1985

SONORA DESERT MUSEUM Mural, galaxy model, globes and animation showing evolution of Earth 1982


PARIS AIR SHOW Large display panels for NASA exhibit 1987

NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM Mural, interactive displays, and SETI exhibit design for "Where Next, Columbus?" gallery

GEMINI OBSERVATORY - Modular display panels and brochure 1998, graphics for internet and press releases, 2001 and 2002

MONTEFIORE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, BRONX, N.Y. Multi-media wall murals and display designs, 2001