Artwork: Saturn Falls

A return to an old pastime of mine, astro-art. And Saturn has always been a favourite. Iconic as far as planets go, although new images of Pluto have put that poor forgotten ‘planet’ on the map again recently. Anyway… an old artwork renewed this week after 12 years of hanging around.

“Saturn Falls”

Saturn’s northern hexagon, was such a thrill for me to learn about, and just when you thought nothing could compete with those wonderful rings… well, this odd vortex surely has the stuff dreams are made of.

This time though I turned Saturn on its head. The northern vortex now pointing down. Hence the title, which I also have expressed in Latin “Saturnus Cado” – Saturn Falls.

And where the original was colour, I now have converted to a toned B&W. My reasoning here was two-fold; to cause more attention to the shapes and textures, ultimately making this piece more stark and bold… also reminiscent of my first live view of the planet, through my telescope years ago.

One thing you’ll notice when viewing Saturn in person is the lack of colour. Certainly it has some but it is not like the colour you find online or in magazines. And because it doesn’t, it becomes very real. Like a backstage pass at a show, where the makeup comes off and the actors looked tired and distressed. Saturn in the eyepiece is a small distant grey smudge. Rings aglow but not ‘over-the-top’. It had a modest stature, not overstated, which made it even larger than life for me. I guess because it wasn’t trying to impress, like a piece of hollywood CGI. It was very real and right there, its light into my eyes. A very personal account.

I shared that evening with my father who stood speechless at the eyepiece. I could sense the awe, just as it was for me as well. Moments like this that sink deeply and maneuver beyond words.

But besides what is seen, what is unseen is interesting as well. Saturn has polar aurorae just like earth does, all orchestrated by the interaction between energy from the sun and the planets own magnetic properties. 

So how to show this?

And as tempted as I was to avoid any embellishment, I did finally succumb to adding these unseen details. I guess a part of me is Hollywood after all. Oh well, it is all art in the end. Hopefully the poetry finds you too.

The elements: