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.
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.
In 2002, Jon Lomberg received the prestigious Klumpke-Roberts Award, presented by the Astronomical Society of Pacific, one of the world’s oldest and largest astronomy organizations. The Klumpke-Roberts Award is presented in recognition of an individual’s outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. Each year, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Board of Directors asks various individuals and institutions to nominate people for these awards. The ASP awards recognize meritorious work by professional and amateur astronomers, science educators, and those who engage in public outreach.
In 1998, on the occasion of his 50th birthday, 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.
1. Approaching the Milky Way
A key frame from the original COSMOS television series storyboards, showing the view as we enter the Milky Way at an oblique angle. This artwork was the sketch from which the artist executed the final animation scene, one of the most vivid and widely reproduced from the COSMOS series animation.
This original art also has a vellum overlay with handwritten labels showing the position of the Sun, Orion Nebula, Crab Nebula, and the direction towards the Andromeda Galaxy from where we approached our galaxy.
2. Barred Spiral Galaxy from Encyclopedia Galactica
From a series of paintings called “Encyclopedia Galactica”, created in collaboration with Carl Sagan, who helped Jon Lomberg write the captions appearing on each painting. This project evolved into the episode/chapter in COSMOS of the same name. This series envisions entries in a compendium of civilizations and objects in the universe. Carl Sagan owned some of the paintings in this series, as does Frank Drake and the Arecibo Observatory.
A key frame from the original COSMOS television series storyboards, showing the galactic center setting behind the disk of the galaxy as we enter the Milky Way.
4. Cosmic Brain
This was a logo design for Carl Sagan Productions, for a potential series on the human brain.
5. COSMOS Logo
This was an early design for the COSMOS television series title logo, showing linked galaxies, with the C and S formed by the shape of the spiral arms. The lettering branches into an interstellar communication system, linking civilizations in the galaxy.
6. DNA Leaves the Planet
Commissioned by the Life Sciences Division of NASA in 1986 to illustrate a publication about their work. The artist imagines the lift-off of a Space Shuttle as symbolically and literally carrying Earth’s DNA into space.
7. Dyson Lattice
This is the most ambitious painting of the Encyclopedia Galactica series by Jon Lomberg, with an elaborate caption co-written with Carl Sagan. See page 313 of the book, COSMOS, by Carl Sagan for other captions from this series. Full caption available on request.
Young stars burst forth from a nebula, like seeds spreading through the galaxy. Just as seeds grow flowers that make more seeds, nebulae form stars that eventually form new nebulae. Cosmic cycles of life and death are apparent at all scales.
This painting was the inspiration for the dandelion motif that runs through the TV series COSMOS. Carl Sagan did not want his “spaceship of the imagination” to have a realistic, technological feel, and this painting brought forth the idea that the spaceship, when seen from outside, resembled a seed, blowing through the cosmos.
9. Study for “Infinite Regression”
This is a study for the painting that appears on page 266 of the book COSMOS, by Carl Sagan.
10. Approaching the Milky Way
Jon Lomberg was chief artist for Carl Sagan’s television series COSMOS. Lomberg designed most of the animation sequences, including the long trip through the universe that opened the series. This is a scene from that animation, in which the traveler approaches the Milky Way Galaxy, just before diving down into the disc and flying to Earth.
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, and Japan, as well as in North America. He has often been commissioned by the Gemini and Keck Observatories in Hawaii to create images to help explain their newest discoveries.
His large, detailed and accurate painting of the Milky Way galaxy (above) was on display for ten years at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and is now part of their permanent collection of aviation and space art. He has designed exhibits for NASM and other major museums and in the U.S. and Canada.
The portrait (above) is currently being used by NASA’s Kepler mission searching the galaxy for Earthlike planets. See the image here and here on the NASA website for the Kepler Mission. The Kepler Mission also maintains a separate page of Jon’s artwork here.
His most recent project (above) has been the creation of the world’s first large-scale, walk-through model of the Milky Way, done as a garden.
Jon Lomberg is also a well-known lecturer and stargazing guide. He has twice been a Regents Lecturer for the University of California. He now regularly presents his programs in Hawaii at the Kona Village Resort and aboard Radisson Seven Seas Cruise Lines.
Jon Lomberg: “Becoming Galactic” | Starship Century Symposium
Starship Century is a symposium coordinated by the new Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination in collaboration with Gregory and James Benford, presenting ideas from their anthology of science and science fiction. Scientists address the challenges and opportunities for our long‐term future in space, with possibilities envisioned by: Freeman Dyson, Paul Davies, Peter Schwartz, John Cramer and Robert Zubrin. Science fiction authors Neal Stephenson, Allen Steele, Joe Haldeman, Gregory Benford, Geoffrey Landis and David Brin discuss the implications that these trajectories of exploration might have upon our development as individuals and as a civilization.