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Starts With A Bang

Weekend Diversion: The Universe in your home

How to turn the greatest NASA images in history into wallpaper, curtains, fabric and more!

Image credit: Elinor Medezinski, Suprime-Cam/Subaru Telescope; ZwCl 0024–17.

“I’m coming back in… and it’s the saddest moment of my life.” –Ed White, at the conclusion of the first American spacewalk, June 3, 1965

Perhaps the saddest part of any adventure is at its conclusion, when it’s permanently in your past. Even though the next one is bound to be great and worth living, and — as Steve Earle would sing — Somewhere Out There,

most of us would like something to dream about, whether it’s going back to our greatest adventures or imagining ones about places we’ll never be able to tread. For me, and I’m sure for many of you, some of the greatest of those places are out there in the Universe, hundreds, thousands, millions or even billions of light years away!

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and N. Pirzkal (STScI/ESA), via http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/2679-ssc2007-15a1-Hubble-Ultra-Deep-Field.

NASA’s great observatories have done a fantastic job of imaging some of the most wondrous places in the Universe in incredible, gorgeous high-resolution, including the galactic center…

Image composite credit: NASA / JPL — Caltech / ESA / CXC / STScI, of the galactic center in multiple wavelengths ranging from infrared to visible to X-ray.

Giant stars on the outskirts of the violent Orion Nebula…

Image credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA / STScI), C. R. O’Dell (Vanderbilt), NASA, of star LL Orionis in the Orion Nebula.

Supernova remnants in multiple wavelengths of light…

Image credit: NASA/JPL/California Institute of Technology, of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant in X-rays, visible light and infrared.

Regions of new star formation, such as inside the Eagle Nebula…

Image credit: NASA, Jeff Hester, and Paul Scowen (Arizona State University), of the pillars of creation inside the Eagle Nebula.

The gorgeous, multi-colored stars at the heart of globular clusters…

Image credit: Hubble SM4 ERO Team — ESA/NASA, of globular cluster Omega Centauri.

And distant galaxies out there in the depths of deep space.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and Johan Richard (Caltech, USA)
Acknowledgement: Davide de Martin & James Long (ESA/Hubble), of galaxy cluster Abell 1703.

One of the greatest things about all NASA images is that they’re entirely public domain, which means that you are free to use them for whatever non-commercial purposes you like. Want a poster? Just have it printed out!

But what if you want to decorate your room, office, house or apartment with curtains or wallpaper of these fantastic images? This weekend, I’m super excited to introduce you to Spoonflower, a site that specializes in custom fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap.

Image credit: screenshot of the Spoonflower homepage, via http://www.spoonflower.com/welcome.

Simply find the highest-resolution image of whatever it is you’re looking for, resize it (if necessary) using whatever image editing software you prefer — keeping in mind that 150 pixels corresponds to 1 inch (2.54 cm) — select whatever material, sizes and tiling pattern you like, and order it!

One of these, by the way, is about to go up in my own house!

Image credit: Spoonflower, via http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/3413491.

Maybe more than one, mind you… I’ve always wanted blackout curtains for my bedroom, and what’s better than black? How about a tiled star field, courtesy of Hubble, that’s better than any computer-generated fake could ever concoct?

Image credit: Spoonflower, via http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/3448743.

Best of all, you can make your own designs public, and view all the other public designs of everyone else who’s ever bought/designed fabric on Spoonflower! I wish that this was around when I was younger, but I’m so happy that it exists now, that we have the amazing image repository we do from more than 50 years of NASA, and that the prices are so reasonable!

Travel the Universe with astrophysicist Ethan Siegel. Subscribers will get the newsletter every Saturday. All aboard!

(Make sure you order fabric samples, by the way, so you can make sure you get yours on the right material for your purposes!)

I hope this helps excite the imaginations of the craftier (and the DIY-types) among you out there, and I hope you find this discovery as useful as I do!


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