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Uncle Jon Lomberg

Uncle Jon LombergHOF counselor seal

1960s-era Hall of Fame Counselor Uncle Jon Lomberg. Jon is an American space artist and science journalist. He was Carl Sagan's principal artistic collaborator for more than twenty years on many projects from 1972 until 1996. In 1998, the International Astronomical Union officially named Asteroid Lomberg in recognition of his achievements in science communication. His proudest achievement is his design for NASA's legendary Voyager Golden Record. Jon's cover art for that project will last an estimated 1000 million years, making it the longest-lived piece of art ever created. Together with his artworks on Mars, his extraterrestrial art projects can be considered Earth's most widely exhibited artwork.

Jon Lomberg grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During a visit to Toronto, Canada after college, he was invited by science fiction author Judith Merril to display his artwork at a conference she organised for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Lomberg moved to Toronto later that year and, after assisting Merril in a radio documentary for the CBC Radio One program Ideas, went on to create many documentaries on topics such as NASA's Viking program and Halley's Comet for the program.

In 1972, Jon showed some of his paintings to astronomer Carl Sagan who then asked him to illustrate The Cosmic Connection. This was the beginning of their quarter century of collaboration on many projects, including the Cosmos series (for which he created the talent pool and as chief artist won a Primetime Emmy Award), the Cosmos book, Broca's Brain, NASA's interstellar Voyager Golden Record, the original cover art for Sagan's novel Contact, and the opening sequence from Earth through the Solar System and its galaxy and beyond for the Contact film. At Sagan's request, Lomberg designed the original sailing ship logo for the Planetary Society in 1981.

The Smithsonian Institution commissioned Lomberg in the early 1990s to paint “A Portrait of the Milky Way,” a scientifically accurate artistic representation of the Milky Way galaxy as seen by a hypothetical observer from a vantage point 10 degrees above the galactic plane and 60,000 light years from the galactic center. The 6 ft by 8 ft painting, which was described in a peer reviewed academic paper in 1994 as “the best representation of our galaxy to date” and “a first map like those of explorers long ago,” was displayed in the National Air and Space Museum from 1992 through 2002 and remains part of its permanent collection of aviation and space art.

Jon also designed the Galaxy Garden, a three dimensional walk-through Milky Way scale model which is part of the Paleaku Peace Gardens Sanctuary in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

He co-designed the MarsDial aboard the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity and was the project director and editor-in-chief for the Visions of Mars CD-ROM and mini-DVD aboard the spacecraft Phoenix, which landed on Mars in January 2008, making it his third artwork sitting on Mars. (That project took 16 years to get there).

Jon was also leader of a Sandia Laboratory team charged with designing a warning marker for a US government nuclear waste site, intended to warn people for 10,000 years about the toxic materials buried below the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Jon is a founding member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists and a member of the Planetary Society Advisory Board. He also lectures frequently at universities, etc, about his work and is a regular lecturer for the Regent Cruise Line , which has enabled him and his family to see many obscure corners of the world, including Pitcairn, Easter, Kodiak and Devil's Islands, not to mention Guadalcanal, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Bora Bora, Tahiti, Elba, Madeira, Capri, etc. He doesn't travel much to the interiors of continents though.

He lives in Hawaii with Sharona, his wife of 22 years, and his two children, Merav and Jonathan, though Merav spends most of her time these days at Drexel University.

Please visit Uncle Jon's website at to see some of his amazing work.

In His Own Words...

"I'm grateful to [Uncle] Hoff for hooking me in to the SGF veterans. Lots of great memories. Wish I could be there on Sunday-- for sure I'd win the come-the-farthest award! But it's not to be.

Of all the various groups of guys I've been part of in work, school, or community activities, the SGF counselors were the wackiest and most fun to be around. You can try to tell people what it was like, but you had to be there. Nights OD by the Ridge flagpole was where this city boy got his first long look at the night skies, unobstructed by Philly light. I never minded that job. So help me Hanna!

SGF was the place I started growing my hair long in the summer of '66. I remember doing an activity in Ridge HQ called 'Psychedelic Experience with Uncle Jon.' I sat the kids in a dark room, played Indian sitar music and had them wave around sticks of incense and meditate. Worked great until Murray Devore started to cry. Hope he never told his parents! "

Uncle Jon's Awards

1979 Certificate of Excellence from the American Institute of Graphic Arts for the cover of Broca's Brain

1981 Prime Time Emmy Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Creative Technical Crafts for the TV series Cosmos

1983 DESI Award from the magazine Graphic Design USA for the nuclear winter artwork in PARADE magazine

1984 Prize for Best Video Documentary at the Vermont World Peace Film Festival for the videotape of the multi-media show "Nuclear Winter"

1987 Armstrong Award for Documentary from the Columbia University School of Journalism for the radio program "Halley's Comet"

1996 Annual Best Children's Science Book Award given by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for the "Life In The Universe"
curriculum for grades 4-9, in the Life Science category.

1998 Asteroid 6446 1990QL is officially renamed Asteroid Lomberg by the International Astronautical Union.

2002: Astronomical Society of the Pacific Klumpke-Roberts Award.

Uncle Jon's Exhibit Designs

ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTER 3 Dimensional Galaxy 1976 SETI Exhibit 1985

SONORA DESERT MUSEUM Mural, galaxy model, globes and animation showing evolution of Earth 1982


PARIS AIR SHOW Large display panels for NASA exhibit 1987

NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM Mural, interactive displays, and SETI exhibit design for "Where Next, Columbus?" gallery

GEMINI OBSERVATORY - Modular display panels and brochure 1998, graphics for internet and press releases, 2001 and 2002

MONTEFIORE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, BRONX, N.Y. Multi-media wall murals and display designs, 2001


Uncle Jon's Books

1978: Carl Sagan, Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, Timothy Ferris, Jon Lomberg, Linda Salzman Sagan. Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record. New York City: Random House. ISBN 0-39441-047-5.

1979: Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science. New York City: Random House. ISBN 0-394-50169-1.

1997: Donald Goldsmith, Worlds Unnumbered: The Search For Extrasolar Planets. Herndon, Virginia: University Science Books. ISBN 0-93570-297-0.

1997: Donald Goldsmith, Einsteins Greatest Blunder? The Cosmological Constant and Other Fudge Factors in the Physics of the Universe. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-67424-242-4.

2001: Donald Goldsmith and Tobias Owen, The Search for Life in the Universe. Herndon, Virginia: University Science Books. ISBN 978-1-891389-16-0.

2004: David W. Thomson and James Bourassa, Secrets of the Aether: Unified Force Theory, Dark Matter and Consciousness. Alma, Illinois: The Aenor Trust. ISBN 0-97242-512-8.

The Many Faces of Uncle Jon Lomberg - Hall of Fame Counselor

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Joe and Laura Shay Uncle Jon Lomberg Uncle Jon Lomberg
Uncle Jon in the 1965 staff picture.
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Uncle Jon Lomberg
Uncle Jon Lomberg
Uncle Jon Lomberg
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Lomberg family
Lomberg graduation
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Uncle Jon Lomberg
Jon and Sharona Lomberg

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