Elizabeth Kessler

Wednesday, March 13, 7:30 p.m.

Picturing the Cosmos: Hubble Space Telescope Images and the Astronomical Sublime 

Elizabeth A. Kessler examines the Hubble's deep space images, highlighting the remarkable resemblance they bear to nineteenth-century paintings and photographs of the American West and their invocation of the visual language of the sublime. Drawing on art history and the history of science, as well as interviews with astronomers who work on the Hubble Heritage Project, Kessler traces the ways that the sublime, with its inherent tension between reason and imagination, not only forms the appearance of the images, but also operates on other levels. Strikingly illustrated with full-color images, this book reveals the scientific, aesthetic, and cultural significance of the Hubble pictures.

"Picturing the Cosmos has helped me better understand what it is that fascinates me about the astronomical universe. Even though I've always loved to look directly at the night sky or at the wonders it holds with telescopes of many sizes and powers, reading here that 'astronomy is about the pleasure of looking' has revitalized this old habit and given it weight." --David H. DeVorkin, Senior Curator, Division of Space History, National Air and Space Museum

Elizabeth Kessler teaches art history at Stanford.


Event date: 
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1010 El Camino Real
94025-4349 Menlo Park