Celestial-Terrestrial Convergence

Photography of Land, Sky, and Universe

Celestial-Terrestrial Convergence will be on view at Project 1628 in Baltimore on Sunday, September 16, from 2-5 pm, and by appointment through September 21, 2018. To arrange a viewing, contact Zolt Levay at zgl@me.com. 

Whether we are gazing across a canyon at sunset, past silhouetted mountains toward the Milky Way, or out into a sea of galaxies billions of light-years away, our understanding of the world around us is profoundly defined by light.

Light is the visible and invisible energy emitted by stars and gas, and reflected off planets, moons, and dust in space. Light from our star, the Sun, illuminates the rock, water, air, and life on Earth’s surface. This is the light that is collected by the mirrors and lenses of telescopes and cameras—the brightness, colors, and patterns revealing what the universe is made of, how it is organized, how it works, and how it has evolved.

But it is also the absence of light—the eclipsed light, the absorbed and scattered light, the shadows and silhouettes—that provides the depth, reveals crucial details, and shapes our deep understanding of our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, and the universe beyond. And it is the distortion of light that shifts, stretches, and magnifies our view, providing a glimpse into the deepest, farthest reaches of space and time.

This exhibit of photography from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, paired with Zolt Levay’s landscapes of America’s national parks, highlights the convergence of celestial and terrestrial, and the interplay of light and shadows on Earth and in space.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Z. Levay, E. Wheatley, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Images on Exhibit

Hubble Space Telescope

Since its launch into Earth orbit in 1990, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been capturing light, shadows, and silhouettes from celestial landscapes as close as our own solar system to as distant as 13.3 billion light-years from Earth, fundamentally shaping our understanding of the universe.

What makes Hubble so valuable is not just its technology, but also its unique vantage point. Orbiting 350 miles above Earth’s surface, Hubble’s view of the universe is unobscured by effects of Earth’s atmosphere, allowing it to clearly image fine detail in extremely faint objects. Hubble is a camera. Its 94.5-inch mirror collects visible, ultraviolet, and near-infrared light and focuses it into scientific instruments inside the telescope. The data recorded by the instruments are then transmitted to Earth, where they are analyzed by scientists on the ground, and synthesized into the spectacular images we see here.

Hubble Space Telescope, photographed by astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis during the telescope’s final servicing mission in May, 2009.
 (Inset) Eclipse-on-Demand: A coronagraph is used to block light from a nearby star, revealing a
previously undetected ring of dust that is otherwise overwhelmed by the light of the star.
Hubble Space Telescope, 2014. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Schneider (University of Arizona), and the HST/GO 12228 Team

Zoltan Levay

As a long-standing member of the Hubble Heritage Team and the communications and public outreach team at the Space Telescope Science Institute, astronomer and photographer Zolt Levay has played a major role in creating the striking Hubble images that have illuminated the universe for the public for more than 25 years. Combining layers of filtered light, choosing the colors used to represent different wavelengths of visible and invisible light, and deciding how to frame and orient images, Zolt transforms scientific data into the ethereal landscapes that have become so intricately associated with the Hubble Space Telescope.

When he is not helping scientists communicate their results or identify future targets for Hubble imaging and study, Zolt uses digital SLR cameras to record and preserve the convergence of celestial light and terrestrial landscapes, particularly those of the U.S. National Parks.

Zolt Levay eclipses the Sun in Canyonlands National Park, 2017.
(Inset) The corona of the Sun is visible from Earth only when eclipsed completely by the Moon.
Photograph by Zolt Levay, Virginia Beach, 1970


This exhibit is funded by the Hubble Mission at the Space Telescope Science Institute and by Zolt Levay. Thanks to Marcia Hart and Project 1628 for hosting the exhibit.


  • Zolt retired as Principal Science Visuals Developer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute. He currently pursues photography, exploring the relationship between earth-bound landscapes and the larger universe visible in the night sky.