By Phil Plait | March 26, 2010 2:00 pm

When I saw this painting, I got tears in my eyes. Seriously.


I just love this. I think it’s the angles; the 3/4 turn of the grandmother and baby, the look of absorption on the baby’s face, and the semi-gibbous phase of the Earth.

And, of course, the sentiment. You can read a lot into this painting. But isn’t that what art is for?

This work is by Chase Stone, who has a lot of amazing art posted on DeviantArt. I strongly recommend going through his stuff.

Tip o’ the spacesuit visor to Reddit.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Space

Comments (72)

  1. Someday. Of course, right now I’d settle for a manned moon landing in my lifetime. Really sad that in the nearly-35 years I’ve been on this planet, man hasn’t set foot on the moon! Heck, we haven’t even broken low Earth orbit since then (Apollo 17 in 1972).

  2. IS that the Earth? I see it as arriving at another planet. The grandmother might have left the earth in her youth and just now they’re arriving somewhere else. Unless there’s some distinctive Earth geography I didn’t notice… The interior of the ship looks just a bit worn and dusty to me. Long trip.

  3. jasonB

    In space, no one can hear a baby crying.

  4. kevbo

    You’re all crazy. It’s obviously a sound stage. No stars!

  5. kevbo

    Wait a sec – just biggified it on the source page, and yes…I see stars…

  6. Robert E

    It’s full of stars….

  7. Chris

    So are they leaving because global warming made the Earth uninhabitable?

  8. Kaeli

    Beautiful. I share your sentiments exactly. A very moving and well-executed piece.

    Also, as this is my first comment on your blog, I feel the need to let you know I’ve been a loyal reader for quite some time, and I’m (gasp!) not a devout skeptic!

    Just wanted to let you know that there are some of us ‘believers’ out here who appreciate your point of view, and what you have to say – even though I do watch those paranormal shows too. Bad Astronomy’s one of my favorite blogs. Thanks for doing it, and keep up the good work. :)

  9. Reminds me of a Ray Bradbury story, I think called “The Gift,” in which a couple is miffed because regulations won’t let them take their son’s christmas tree on the rocketship that is taking them to a new life on Mars. Their young son is heartbroken, until the father leads him to the ship’s observation port, where he sees the stars for the first time, a sight better than even the sparkliest of christmas trees.

    Typical Bradbury sentimentality, but a touching story nonetheless.

  10. JenniferBurdoo

    Trouble is it reminds me of an Isaac Asimov story where the punchline was that the space station contained all the human life that was left, and the Earth around which it orbited was consumed with atomic fire.

  11. G

    Is that Delos Harriman as an infant? (My “reminds me” is a Heinlein story.)

  12. Allen


    You still have a good 40 or so years left in your natural lifetime, so you may even get to see the first man on Mars. That, I think, would be a much bigger feat than Neil Armstrong’s achievement, since one day, Mars can be a sparkling blue and green planet like the Earth.

  13. I have a deviant art account only so I can keep track of my daughter’s activity (I can’t even draw stick figures). I will have to follow this one and of course point my daughter to this one.

  14. BJN

    Yeah, they’re leaving Earth which hosts an engineered virus that’s wiping out all vertebrates. Granny’s the Vice President of the United States and was one of under 100 U.S. elite who are going to Mars colony to ruin that planet. The was no selection of the best and brightest for this space flight, the powerful and wealthy got first dibs. The child is the V.P.’s clone who will be used for body parts.

    I can see why you’d tear up at this image.

  15. T_U_T

    The planet is definitely not earth. Look at the shoreline. There is no shoreline like that here anywhere on the whole globe.
    This has to be a new habitable planet presumably around another star, and the grandma and the kid are colonists looking at their new home as their ship approaches the planet.

  16. Mike

    Global warming likely NOT reality….sorry.

    It might be an Orbital Habitat, Granny’s up there because of the lower gravity being better for her heart. Maybe she’s a scientist, and she’s up there with her family, doing science-y things.

    There are LOTS of other reasons to leave Earth –

    – leaving behind the stupid politics

    – there’s an ‘Eden-world’ waiting for us to colonize, and we’ve figured out FTL.

    – It’s a long term in-system science voyage, and it’s someone else’s kid.

    Yeah, it’s sad that the youth and politicians have lost any interest on things beyond their dinner table….

  17. justcorbly

    I’m with you, Phil. I’ll be 62 in a few months and our exploration of space — Apollo, the Mars robots, Casini, etc. — is just about the only thing our species has done in my lifetime that makes me proud.

    Many people argue that we shouldn’t spend money on space until all of our Earthly problems are resolved. But, of course, the same shortcomings that have throttled back our exploration of space also prevent resolving those Earthly problems. Too many people value belief over reality and are willing to kill for it.


    Phil Plait:

    And, of course, the sentiment. You can read a lot into this painting.

    Like, er… Grandma wondering: “Did I leave the stove on?”

    I’ll get my coat and see myself out…

  19. Gary Ansorge

    13. BJN

    You should be writing dystopic fiction(I’ve been waiting for an excuse to use that word. Thanks!).

    My take on it is Grandma and grand daughter looking out a viewport from their space colony. Grandma is nostalgic. Grand daughter has no idea what she’s looking at,,,yet. She just knows it’s a “pretty” thing.

    “Someday,” says Grandma ” I’d love to take you there darling, just so you know where we came from. Now it’s a nature preserve and in a million years it will recover from our birth as a space faring species. Then we can see if any new sentients are rising. Won’t THAT be fun?”

    Gary 7
    PS: 16. IVAN3MAN Ba da Boom!

  20. Mount

    Heh, I had a bit of a double take there. At first I thought you said “…the look of abortion on the baby’s face…”

    Sweet picture, I love the implications.

  21. Parkylondon

    No prints. Gah. I’d pay for a good A3 version of that.

  22. Also reminds me of an old L-5 Society illustration, with a Bernal sphere space colony inhabitant bemoaning the absence of stars in the sky, like she remembered from her youth “up there” on Earth.

    Seriously dating myself with that one.

  23. George Martin
  24. Mister Earl

    This is now my desktop image. Beautiful.

  25. I saw this image a few days ago and while it’s really lovely, the station interior is a bit drab. Doesn’t look like a place I’d want to spend a lot of time – but that’s just me!

    At the risk of great personal harm and/or embarrassment, I’m going to jack this with a link to my own (slightly cheerier, imho) space art. I apologize in advance. This piece was done for the Space Foundation’s Annual Conference last year.

  26. Mike

    I think I have found a new background. Gorgeous painting, well executed and an odd number of focal points and great shadows and light.

  27. “Moments before destruction: Alderaan as seen from the Death Star”

  28. I got tears in my eyes too. Lots of them.


  29. Floyd

    10: That’s perilously close to the the plot of the 1972 movie “Silent Running,” where the biologist hero (Bruce Dern) and some small robots, are taking care of remnants of Earth based plants on old space freighters retrofitted with domes, and is ordered to abandon them. The caretaker rebels.

    On the picture: I’m taking it as Grandma, the grandchild, and many others arriving at an Earth-like planet, their new home. This could happen if new Earths are found close to the Solar System.

  30. XMark

    I like the little detail of an emergency vacuum seal in the frame of the window.

  31. JimG

    I’m reading Granny’s thoughts as “This is the last time I’m booking on Kut-Rayt Airlines. ‘Connecting flight,’ my ass!”

  32. Sentiment, heck. They’re about to set multiple Orbital Skydiving records (tandem division) for highest, oldest, and youngest! “Ready, kiddo? Let’s go grab our helmets…”

  33. OtherRob
  34. Pi-needles

    Someday … Over the rainbow … Very, very, *very* far over the rainbow! 😉

    You could come up with just so many different stories and ideas and explanations for this image .. wait people here already have! 😉

    @18. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE Says:

    Like, er… Grandma wondering: “Did I leave the stove on?”

    I’ll get my coat and see myself out…

    LOL! 😀

    @ 27. ultraholland Says:

    “Moments before destruction: Alderaan as seen from the Death Star”

    Can’t remember any seeing grandparents or babies aboard the death star somehow so that doesn’t quite work for me. No stormtroopers, imperial officers, Sith Lords or droids in sight either.

  35. Tony

    But is it a world lost or a world found? It is not quite clear that it is earth they are looking at.

    My read of it is that the Grandmother sees it and thinks of the world she knew, while the child sees a world for perhaps the first time. In fact, the grandmother may have left earth as a child, live her life and had her children in space, living for this moment. She may be the last of her generation, and the only on her ship to know what is like to live in the open space of a biosphere, and not breathe reprocessed air.

    Yes, there is a lot one can see in this painting.

  36. Asimov Fan

    Great painting. I love it too – & thanks for sharing this with us. :-)

    @10. JenniferBurdoo Says:

    Trouble is it reminds me of an Isaac Asimov story where the punchline was that the space station contained all the human life that was left, and the Earth around which it orbited was consumed with atomic fire.

    Can you (or someone else) recall the story title please?

    I can’t remember that one – although I do remember a similar one set on a Moon base rather than a space station.

  37. Pi-needles @33, just because you didn’t see them doesn’t mean they weren’t there, along with all the plumbers, electricians, and other contractors putting on the finishing touches. (See the dissertation by D. Hicks and R. Graves presented in K. Smith’s “Clerks.”)

    But I am reminded of the ending of “Saturn 3”, as Farrah Fawcett’s character sees Earth for the very first time.

  38. PeteC

    Why do some insist on seeing the dark option to everything?

    I see grandmother showing grandchild Earth out of the window of their ship/colony. Earth looks fine; people still live there.

    I teared up too; I have a couple of 4 and a half month old girls sleeping near me right now, and a beautiful, brilliant three-year old daughter as well. For a moment I saw the old lady as my three year old many decades from now… and that makes me tear up.

    Some day. Some day.

  39. jcm

    Perhaps in the future humans will look back towards Earth on their way to other worlds and not because we humans have do something stupid on own beloved Earth that is not longer habitable.

  40. PJE

    I saw it as sort of a “tourist” kind of view. Just checking out the gorgeous view and wanting to share it with your grandchild.

    I do enjoy some of the other points of view, especially the longing of the grandmother and the innocence of the child (who happens to be about the same age as my son!)


    Edit: Phil, I read on the comments from the source that you asked permission to post the picture. Since it’s here I’m assuming he/she gave you the permission. Has the artist made any other comments about the planet in question? Just curious

  41. brad

    I’m wondering if, in a future vessel like the one in the painting, would having virtual viewscreens that look like windows be sufficient for the emotional effects? Or does knowing that you’re not actually seeing it directly kill the mood?

  42. The caption I see is:

    Hey, we destroyed the Earth out of sheer, obstinate greed and stupidity, but not a single dime of mine went to any of those lettuce-picking messicans.

    Thanks Virgin Space !!!

  43. Adam Jacob Muller

    This has been my desktop for a month, <3 it, everyone walking past my desk at work asks about it

  44. m.j.

    I’ve got some questions. Are they standing up or sitting down? Is there a source of gravity, or simulated gravity? What is this ship-station-whatever’s orientation? Would I be able to see anything more than the Earth, Moon, or Sun if I looked out the window of an orbiting spacecraft?

  45. Mark Heil

    Man, you guys are cynical! :-)

    Seriously though, Virgin Galactic should commission paintings like this, in the spirit of the stylized pictures of the West that railroad companies used, or the pictures of exotic places used by the early airlines.

  46. Daffy


    I’m with you. A grandmother showing her grandchild where she came from (Earth). Can’t see how anything else makes sense.

  47. Glenn

    What’s the source of the light on their faces?

  48. DaveS

    I object. They don’t look Chinese enough.

  49. Messier Tidy Upper

    ^ Don’t bet against the USA even now DaveS.

    Remember that the Soviet Union had a huge lead early on in the space race but the Americans came from behind to win the greatest prize – the first Lunar landing.

    The same thing applied also to the race to build a nuclear bomb – Germany knew about the idea of nuclear fission (so did Russia too I think?) – but their best scientists were Jewish and thus got expelled and emigrated to guess where? Thus the US of A caught up faster and won the race to the A-bomb with people like Einstein, Teller & Oppenheimer.

    I don’t claim to predict the future but if the past is any guide at all … *NEVER* rule the United States out. They may well surprise everyone & achieve the remarkable first – again.

    I hope so myself & while there is no certainty recall that China, the main compeditor, has some severe social-cultural & political issues of its own that could cause it to implode. *

    The USA just possibly may be the leading power – in space and on Earth – for many centuries to come still. :-)


    * Examples : Political repression & a system that we know eventually fails ie totalitarian dictatorship, environmental issues such as desertification in a major way & the consequences of widespread female infanticide with a very unbalanced male:female ratio and over-pampering the brain-washed, highly spoilt “little Emperor” generation under their 1-child policy. I’m not saying this will will happen but I certainly could see China collapsing and falling down in a big way in the future.

    (Note that America’s other wannabe rivals such as Europe & India also have other problems of their own too.)

  50. Sandra


    The baby’s look is so powerful! Exploration of the Space Program must continue. I hope we all unite to support their outstanding work.

  51. ToddC

    I also wondered if it was indeed Earth we’re looking at. That guy is masterful! If I could paint like that, I would do nothing else all day and night. I’ve got so many other people dancing around in my head, it would be nice to let them out onto a canvas. HA! Just kidding, but I do have lots of ideas/concepts/fantasies swirling around up there that I’d love to be able to interpret visually.

  52. DaveS

    Messier, the US is in decline. It’s obvious to anyone who looks. Being an American, I certainly HOPE something turns us around, but since I just a moment ago had my engineering job exported to China for the third time in six years, I’m not counting on it.

  53. DaveS

    I know! It’s a grandma and child sitting in their livingroom, looking at a big-screen TV, the picture taken by a high-orbit research satellite! That’s the ticket. No human risk, lower cost, perfect!

  54. T_U_T

    @DaveS. Do they build TV screens with window shutters in the future ? That is, inch or more thick metallic window shutters ? Must be mighty realistic TV. Too realistic to be comfortable, I would say 😛

  55. Mike C.
  56. selfification

    Guys guys! *Clearly* they are there to enjoy Hotblack Desatio’s concert and are positioned at an optimal distance from the planet…

  57. bb

    If this is art, homeopathy isn’t quackery, too.

  58. The kid is later known as “Johner” who utters the immortal words “Earth, man. What a shi..#..$@%24… no carrier

  59. MW

    That sticky-out display is terrible design – people will forever be bruising their hips against it. It is angled for viewing by a standing person – so clearly there is artificial ‘gravity’ in this room.

    49 Glenn: The Earth (or Planet) is the light source.

    There was a story (Asimov or Clarke I think) where the grand-old-man of space exploration and the early moon colony is asked by a reporter, of all the amazing things he’s seen and done, what was his most awesome experience? He describes how one day while working on the lunar colony, there was an all-stations (audio) broadcast ‘to introduce the latest arrival to our colony’ followed by the crying of a newborn baby – the first born off the Earth.

    (I needed that to reestablish my sentimentalist credentials after the bruised hip comment.)

  60. mfumbesi

    Pretty, it is.
    @artbot. Great images there.

  61. QuietDesperation

    In my sad reality, I envisioned the Earth blowing up two seconds after the moment in this image. :-)

    The two “humans” are alien infiltrators still in their disguises. Actually, the “baby” is a portable super-AI and covert weapon system. When the adult alien is threatened, the baby device can shoot lightning from its eyes. For larger threats, you can turn it over and-


    [Post terminated for reasons of taste]

  62. QuietDesperation

    Why do some insist on seeing the dark option to everything?

    Narratives work better with conflict.

    That and the whole “the 21st century sort of seriously blows so far” thing. It affects mood.

    I see grandmother showing grandchild Earth out of the window of their ship/colony. Earth looks fine; people still live there.


    But they are all ZOMBIES! :-)

    Except the ones that became werewolves, of course.

  63. T_U_T

    me thinks that an werewolf can become zombie too. Wonder if zombies can become werewolves. Or if werezombies are possible.

  64. Ray

    Why does everyone assume the lady is the kid’s grandmother? Doesn’t that make you ask where the mother is?

    Maybe she is the mother and in whatever future this represents women have babies later in life.

    Or, they’re twins. One having spent 60 years on a stationary spaceship and the other 60 years on a spaceship at .99c.

  65. becky'sthoughts


  66. DaveS

    Becky, you really have to worry about the Ninja-were-zombie pirates.

    QuietDeperation: I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist. I like science fiction. And when I was a young man, it looked as though the US-centric popular sci-fi was in some part going to come true. It doesn’t look that way any longer.

  67. Annie M

    Thunderbird Five!

    FAB John.

  68. Constance

    Perhaps, b/c of a recent death of a small child— my take was a futuristic journey of the afterlife, leaving this earth for another world– all with the child, safe in their grandmothers’ loving arms.

    which– is why art is great! we all have our own interpretations of a work based on our life experiences.

  69. Soul

    And this was my dream. It’s much far away. But I dreamed about space travel for so long… until I grew up 😉 For me, this image by Luis Royo represents a great nostalgy.

  70. I guess what makes it good art is that it is open to so many interpretations. some see in it hope, others despair. Some see pioneers, others see space tourists and then there are those who see were-zombies.

    And for those who are saddened by the thought that the era of human spaceflight may be over (for a while): think about all the marvelous discoveries we’re making about this crazy Universe! If technology keeps improving with an exponential growth curve in a few decades we may be able to send humans outside of the Earth’s “gravitational neighborhood” safely and environmentally soundly.

    The coolest thing about scientific discoveries is no one can really predict when and what they’ll be. No, I lie. That’s second coolest – the coolest is we live at a time when these discoveries are largely shared with everyone!

    [Have you ever wondered why NASA has so many facilities in the South? B/C the only people willing to light up 1000 tons of explosive are rednecks]


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