When we are young, many things inspire and influence the directions that our lives will take. Some stay with us into adulthood, others not. For me, astronomy and science fiction were my main influences growing up. They were not just forms of escapism; they were a future that held promise. The high road to the stars was a dream that could become a reality, or so I believed.
By the time I was in my early teens, I knew that I wanted to become an astronomer. I read books on the history of the science and was amazed by the discoveries that Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Cassini, Herschel, and many others too numerous to mention had made. Though their instruments were primitive in comparison to what even beginning amateurs have available today, it was only through their perserverance, curiousity, and dogged pursuit of knowledge that made their discoveries possible. The possibility that what was taught in their day might be wrong was an added incentive.
At the same time, I was reading books on the then current state of the science and had purchased my first telescope from a Sears & Roebuck catalog. It wasn't much as telescopes go, but it was good enough to get me started. I spent hours out at night looking at the heavens, learning the constellations and star names, staring at craters on the Moon, and watching the four 'Galilean' moons of Jupiter change their positions. It was a wonderful time in my life.
During these heady days, I had begun reading science fiction as well. I devoured novels by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Bradbury. Then, in 1968, a singular event occurred that would re-affirm my desire to become an astronomer. I went to see the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. An event that would stay with me to this day. Years would pass, a bigger and much better telescope would come along, but I stayed the course into and out of high school.
Entering college, I began my studies in earnest. The hours were long and the mathematics were intense. It was not long though before the dream took a turn. The science was becoming increasingly complicated, and new technologies had changed it from an observational science to one of using instruments that one did not look through. These new instruments captured objects in non-visual wavelengths of light in order to ascertain chemical compositions and gather data about red and blue shift velocities among other things. Radio telescopes were being used to 'see' for much of this work. I was beginning to realize it was not the science that I loved but rather the 'beauty' of the heavens. I had also begun to think of myself as something of an 'artist' because of my increasing interest in performing music. In hindsight, I suspect that this had a great deal to do with my new views on the science.
Due to my expanding involvement with music, I changed my major to music and philosophy, but after a year I dropped out of school to pursue music full time. During the next 15 years, I would read many sci-fi novels while on the road. I continued keeping up with the NASA space probes to other planets and imagined what it would be like to witness a sunrise on Mars. I became interested in the geology of these worlds and how their surfaces compared with our own Earth. Little did I know then that this would later become a driving influence in my photography.
Today, I feel as if I have come full circle in some ways. I can still sit for hours at night staring at the heavens, remembering the names of the stars and mapping out the constellations, or watching a meteor shower, and geology still influences much of my photography. And on occasion, a little science fiction sneaks in and I am inspired to create something otherworldly. And so I ask you, my readers to . . .
Imagine a world with a red sun. Terraformed by humanity, water now flows. Hydraulics are built to conserve and sustain this water of life. Though this new world is on its way to becoming a blue one in the centuries to come, for now, molecules in the atmosphere of this world are refracted by the light of the red sun, imparting a pink color to the sky and the dark waters. Imagination can be a powerful thing.
You can see this image and more at www.holoceneimage.com
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