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The History of Space Photography

10 April to 25 May 2014

Since the dawn of human consciousness, our species has been staring in wonder at the cosmos. Early civilizations performed naked-eye observations of the night sky, the development of the telescope in the early 17th Century allowed astronomers like Galileo to learn in increasing detail what wonderful objects the heavens contained. With the creation of photography in the 1830s, astronomers were able to make permanent records of their observations, preserve them over time and share them among their peers.

From 10 April WestLicht ventures a glance into the vastness of space. In 150 rare and spectacular photographs, the Museum presents a walk through the history of space photography: from 19th century black and white pictures of comets moving overhead to the first photograph of Earth in front of the dark background of the universe to the colourful images modern high performance telescopes deliver from the depths of our galaxy.

Curated by Jay Belloli for California/International Arts Foundation, Los Angeles, California


06.05.2014, 7 pm
Per aspera ad astra. How Space Photographs are Made
Lecture by Maria Pflug-Hofmayr
in German language

15.05.2014, 7 pm
For members only: Science-Fiction-Filmscreening
with a rare classic
In Cooperation with Filmarchiv Austria
in German language

24.04. and 22.05.2014, 7 pm
Guided tours
in German language, tours in English language on request at

Great Comet of 1882, David Gill © South African Astronomical Observatory
Solar Prominence, Palomar Observatory, California, 1946 © The Carnegie Observatories
The first space photograph on colour film, Bill Miller, Mount Wilson Observatory, California, 1958 © David Malin Images/Caltech
The first ever published photograph of Earth from space, spacecraft Lunar Orbiter 1, 1966 © NASA/Caltech
Photograph of the Earth, Apollo 17 Mission, December1972 © NASA/Johnson Space Center, courtesy Mike Gentry
Mars Hemisphere, Viking spacecraft © NASA/JPL/USGS, Susanne Pieth, German Aerospace Center)
Hubble Ultra Deep Field, Hubble space telescope, 2003-2004 © NASA/ESA/N. Pirzkal
Helix Nebula, infrared image by Spitzer space telescope, 2007 © NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona