Exploring Copernicus - In memory of Gene Shoemaker.

The painting was started on July 14, 1997 - a few days before the untimely death of Gene Shoemaker on July 18. The subject is a future expedition into the lunar crater Copernicus - a crater some 90 kilometers in diameter and one of the most prominent viewed through telescopes from Earth. The crater floor is some 70 kilometers across and the walls rise some 5-7 kilometers above the floor. The true scale of this crater is not easily conveyed. The central peaks visible in the right of the painting are kilometer sized mountains! It would be a truly magnificent place to be. I decided that the astronaut central to this image should be Gene Shoemaker and he is pointing out a distant part of the crater with his trusty and ever present geologists hammer. This expedition consists of a number of geologists and their equipment which includes a legged roving vehicle to carry tools and samples. Instead of producing a full panorama of the crater directly, I do so by using the reflection in Gene's visor to show the rest of the crater along with (presumably) the artist. Interestingly, if one were to randomly plop themselves down on the slumped terraces within Copernicus (or any other large crater on the moon), the hummocky landscape would usually block the distant vistas of the crater - you might not even be able to tell you were inside the crater!

The painting was complted on November 8, 1997. It is a 30 by 14 inch acrylic on illustration board.

Last update: February 3, 1998