Jon Lomberg

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Jon Lomberg (born 1948) is an American space artist and science journalist. He was Carl Sagan's principal artistic collaborator for more than twenty years on many projects from 1972 through 1996.[1] In 1998, the International Astronomical Union officially named an asteroid (6446 Lomberg) in recognition of his achievements in science communication.[2][3] He was NASA's Design Director for the Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft;[4] the cover he designed[5] is expected to last at least a billion years.[6][7]


Jon Lomberg grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[8] During a visit to Toronto, Ontario, after college, he was invited by science fiction author Judith Merril to display his artwork at a conference she organised for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.[9] Lomberg moved to Toronto later that year and, after assisting Merril in a radio documentary for the CBC Radio One program Ideas, went on to create many documentaries on topics such as NASA's Viking program and Halley's Comet for the program.[10][11][12]

In 1972, Lomberg showed some of his paintings to astronomer Carl Sagan,[1] who then asked him to illustrate his book The Cosmic Connection (1973). This was the beginning of their quarter century of collaboration on many projects, including the Cosmos series (for which Lomberg created the talent pool[13] and as chief artist[14][15] won a Primetime Emmy Award), the Cosmos book, Broca's Brain,[2][3] NASA's interstellar Voyager Golden Record,[14][15][16] the original cover art for Sagan's 1985 novel Contact,[17] and the opening sequence from Earth through the Solar System and its galaxy and beyond for the 1997 Contact film.[14][15] At Sagan's request,[1] Lomberg designed the original sailing ship logo for the Planetary Society in 1981.[18]

Lomberg's Milky Way portrait as background for Kepler Mission diagram.

The Smithsonian Institution commissioned Lomberg in the early 1990s to paint "A Portrait of the Milky Way", a scientifically accurate artistic representation of the Milky Way galaxy as seen by a hypothetical observer from a vantage point 10 degrees above the galactic plane and 60,000 light years from the galactic center.[19][20] The 6 ft (1.8 m) by 8 ft (2.4 m) painting, which was described in a peer reviewed academic paper in 1994 as "the best representation of our galaxy to date" and "a first map like those of explorers long ago",[19] was displayed in the National Air and Space Museum from 1992 through 2002 and remains part of its permanent collection of aviation and space art.[21] Lomberg also designed the Galaxy Garden, a three-dimensional walk-through Milky Way scale model which is part of the Paleaku Peace Gardens Sanctuary in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.[8][22]

Lomberg co-designed the MarsDial[23][24] aboard the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and was the project director and editor-in-chief[25] for the Visions of Mars CD-ROM and mini-DVD aboard the spacecraft Phoenix, which landed on Mars in May 2008. He was also on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant planning teams with Frank Drake, Ben Finney, Ward Goodenough, Louis Narens, Frederick Newmeyer, Woodruff Sullivan and others.[26][27][28]

Jon Lomberg is a founding member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists,[29] a member of the Planetary Society advisory council,[30] and designs exhibits and gives presentations for the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center in Hilo, Hawaii for the Mauna Kea Observatory and Gemini North.[8][23][31] He lives in Hawaii with his wife and two children.


The books Jon Lomberg has co-authored and/or illustrated include:

  • 1978: Carl Sagan, Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, Timothy Ferris, Jon Lomberg, Linda Salzman Sagan. Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record. New York City: Random House. ISBN 0-394-41047-5.
  • 1979: Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science. New York City: Random House. ISBN 0-394-50169-1.
  • 1997: Donald Goldsmith, Worlds Unnumbered: The Search For Extrasolar Planets. Herndon, Virginia: University Science Books. ISBN 0-935702-97-0.
  • 1997: Donald Goldsmith, Einstein's Greatest Blunder? The Cosmological Constant and Other Fudge Factors in the Physics of the Universe. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-24242-4.
  • 2001: Donald Goldsmith and Tobias Owen, The Search for Life in the Universe. Herndon, Virginia: University Science Books. ISBN 978-1-891389-16-0.
  • 2004: David W. Thomson and James Bourassa, Secrets of the Aether: Unified Force Theory, Dark Matter and Consciousness. Alma, Illinois: The Aenor Trust. ISBN 0-9724251-2-8.

Awards and honors[edit]

The awards and honors which have been bestowed upon Jon Lomberg include:


  1. ^ a b c "Artist of the Cosmos: Jon Lomberg". Artist's statement paired with Planetary Society biography. San Diego Supercomputer Center's Storage Resource Broker website. Archived from the original on 2008-01-24.
  2. ^ a b "About the Artist". San Diego State University Computational Science Research Center.
  3. ^ a b "Visualizing the Cosmos". Calit2 announcement for UCSD lecture. April 26, 2002.
  4. ^ "What are the contents of the Golden Record?". JPL: Voyager. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  5. ^ Thompson, Helen. "The Golden Record 2.0 Will Crowdsource A Selfie of Human Culture". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  6. ^ Ferris, Timothy (20 August 2017). "How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made". The New Yorker. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Transcript of Radiolab: Space". Radiolab. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  8. ^ a b c Chris Oliver (October 28, 2007). "Earth's first walk-through model of the Milky Way opens on Big Island". Honolulu Advertiser.
  9. ^ Jon Lomberg. "Tribute". SOL Rising, Number 20, January 1998. The Friends of the Judith Merril Collection, Toronto Public Library. Archived from the original on 2008-01-24. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  10. ^ Bob McDonald (September 6, 2007). "30 Years and a Day". Quirks and Quarks.
  11. ^ "Virtual Journeys". CBC Radio One Ideas (radio show). 1976. Archived from the original on July 8, 2007.
  12. ^ "Halley's Comet". CBC Radio One Ideas (radio show). 1986. Archived from the original on December 12, 2007.
  13. ^ "Carl Sagan, Cosmos, and the space artists". Don Davis website. Photo captions: [Right] Polaroid made in 1979 while working on the first model for Cosmos. Left to right: Don Davis, Jon Lomberg, Rick Sternbach. [Below] Left to right: Adolf Schaller, Don Davis, John Allison, Jon Lomberg, Brown. Many of the original negatives of the visual effects are in the boxes along the wall. (Don Davis Career Overview includes his photograph of Lomberg on the set of Cosmos.)
  14. ^ a b c Monica Bobra (July 23, 2003). "Space Artists Honored". Sky & Telescope.
  15. ^ a b c "The ASP Announces its Bruce Medalist and Other Award Recipients for 2002". Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
  16. ^ Jason Fry (January 23, 2006). "Message in a Bottle". The Wall Street Journal.
  17. ^ Description of first edition first printing of Contact by Carl Sagan. London: Century Hutchinson, 1986. ISBN 0-7126-9503-6.
  18. ^ Jon Lomberg's Original Sailing Ship Logo for the Planetary Society.
  19. ^ a b Goldstein, J. J.; Bicay, M.; Gorchev, R.; Lomberg, J.; Blitz, L.; Neal, V. Abstract, A Portrait of the Milky Way: The Jon Lomberg Painting. Art and Science Working Together. American Astronomical Society, DPS Meeting #26, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 26, p. 1550. December 1994.
  20. ^ David S. F. Portree. "New View of the Galaxy (December 2, 1994)". Scripts of the syndicated radio series StarDate. Artist John Lomberg and astrophysicist Jeff Goldstein spent a year plotting the positions of nebulae and star clusters we can see in the night sky. They also drew upon the latest research about the galaxy's structure. They used radio observations to plot the broad sweep of its spiral arms, for example. Lomberg then set up a six-foot-by-eight-foot canvas in a hut on the island of Hawaii. He painted with airbrush and acrylics. At night he covered the forming galaxy to keep the geckos away…
  21. ^ Stellarium. "Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, 1992 - 2002". Archived from the original on 2008-01-05. [Image caption.] Installation of the map in 1992. Note the cutout in the light baffle wall on the right. It held a backlit Milky Way portrait by Emmy Award winning space artist Jon Lomberg. The portrait faced outward and served as a Stellarium introduction. Research by the museum's astrophysics department gave the renowned artist the basis for the most accurate portrait possible. It also gave the first evidence that our galaxy is a barred spiral.
  22. ^ "Mapping The Milky Way in Flowers". Paleaku Astronomy Center Galaxy Garden, detailed description with photographs and explanatory diagrams. Archived from the original on 2008-01-02.
  23. ^ a b "Martian Sundial Designed For 2001 Space Mission Is Unveiled By Bill Nye "The Science Guy"". Science Daily. April 22, 1999.
  24. ^ Susan Essoyan (January 3, 2004). "Isle artist adds local touch to Mars craft". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on June 24, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2008.
  25. ^ Jon Lomberg. "Visions of Mars: Then and Now". Planetary Society. Archived from the original on 2008-01-03.
  26. ^ Christian Tyler (June 3, 2000). "What do we want to say to our far-off descendants - and how can we say it?". Financial Times article on the Long Now Foundation website.
  27. ^ James M. Pethokoukis (August 5, 2002). "A curse to last 10,000 years". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  28. ^ Julia Bryan-Wilson (6 June 2016). "Nuclear Time: On Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Storage Facility". Plazm 27.
  29. ^ History Archived 1998-12-06 at the Wayback Machine of the International Association of Astronomical Artists.
  30. ^ Advisory Council of the Planetary Society.
  31. ^ Institute for Astronomy Office of Science Education and Public Outreach (January 20, 2006). "The Artist in the Observatory: Jon Lomberg". University of Hawaii at Hilo presentation co-sponsored by Gemini Observatory. Archived from the original on September 10, 2007.

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