Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space through Time
by Michael Benson
Abrams, 2014 ($50)
Long before Hubble Space Telescope photographs wowed us with their beauty, other images of the cosmos awed us as well. This oversized art book samples humanity's attempts to depict the heavens throughout history. Some works are scientific; others are religious or purely artistic. Examples include modern supercomputer simulations of a sunspot, a 16th-century French painting of a solar eclipse and a bronze-and-gold image from Germany of the Pleiades star cluster dating to 2000–1600 b.c.—possibly the oldest known graphic depiction of celestial objects. Photographer and writer Benson gathers around 300 pictures in this collection, which illustrates both how much our knowledge of astronomy has progressed and how timeless the human fascination with celestial images is.