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LOS ANGELES — The past few weeks, thanks to the Star Walk app, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Jupiter and the Moon flirt and dance in the sky. The planet looks like a star to my untrained eye, but it’s the largest in the solar system and largely gaseous.

An installation view of Dan Goods’s Jupiter simulation at Mindshare Los Angeles this month.

What would it be like to touch down on Jupiter? Dan Goods, who holds the fabulous title of Visual Strategist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, recently gave us a glimpse at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. I saw the installation, Beneath the Surface, at a recent Mindshare Los Angeles event and loved the out-of-this-world landscape he created.

To bring the piece further to life and make it interactive, he introduced UV lightning bolts that crash through the planet. But as the naked eye can’t see UV, we have to use the cameras on our cell phones — “Except the iPhone 4,” he quickly noted. “Those have UV filters now.” — to see them. It’s a thrilling installation that makes that little dot in the sky that much more mysterious.

Want to see Jupiter too?  The installation travels. “I’m looking for new venues,” he told me.

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An Xiao

Artist An Xiao (aka An Xiao Mina) photographs, films, installs, performs and tweets and has shown her work in publications and galleries internationally. Find her online at @anxiaostudio and anxiaostudio.com.

2 replies on “NASA Artist Brings Jupiter to Life at the Museum”

  1. Fascinating idea, though as one of the last people alive without a cell phone, it is disappointing to me how they seem to be mandatory now – even to view an art exhibit.  Personally I’d prefer an exhibit that doesn’t start until everyone puts the damn things away.

    1. He provides phones and an iPad for users who don’t have one. The point isn’t to use phones for the sake of using phones–it’s that the phones provide a convenient way to see UV lightning bolts, which are a real phenomenon on Jupiter and can’t be seen with the naked eye. If you carried around goggles for viewing UV light, those would work too.

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