By David A. Hardy, FBIS, FIAAA



Title: Moon by Earthlight by David A. Hardy (1956)  


Caption: Earth, four times bigger than the Moon in our sky, sheds its blue light over a lunar crater, seen from its central peak.  The sun is rising on the distant ringwall.  Scenes like this are heavily influenced by Chesley Bonestell, who believed that because there is no air or weather on the Moon the mountains would be as jagged as the day they were born.  He did not take into account the billions of years of micrometeorite impacts, or the constant expansion and contraction caused to rocks by the extremes of temperature, both high and low.




As a child, I was fascinated by photographs in books of the Moon’s craters, Saturn’s rings, volcanoes, tornados, eclipses, aurorae – anything strange and unusual.

 I could never afford a telescope and didn’t have the technical skills to make one, but I did observe through a friend’s, and soon began to wonder what worlds like Mars and Jupiter, seen only as flickering discs, would be like if one could go there.  In 1952, when I was 16, I had an exhibition at my grammar school (the UK equivalent of high school): “Interplanetary Paintings by D.A. Hardy, 5a”.  Actually, I liked Science and Art equally, and when I left school I was guided into the former, having been told “You can’t make a living from Art.”  My school friends used to laugh at me for saying that we would land on the Moon in our lifetimes...  it seems that both were proved wrong!

Title: Saturn from Dione by David A. Hardy (1952)  

Caption: The constellation of Orion can be seen in the sky, indicating the huge angular diameter of the ringed planet as seen from its satellite Dione.  The rings appear as a straight line, since the moons are in the same plane, but throw a deep shadow on the planet, while they reflect light onto its night side.


I produced my first piece of space art in 1950 at the age of 14, and it was first published in 1952.  It was in 1950 that I found the book The Conquest of Space in my local library.  This contained highly photographic paintings of the Moon and planets by the great American astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell.  Almost at once I decided that I wanted to paint like that!  In the same year I saw the film Destination Moon, and was delighted to see that Bonestell had produced the backgrounds for that.  I joined the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) in 1952; it was based in London, but I found out there was a local Midlands branch which held meetings at the college where I then worked as a laboratory technician.  I produced large paintings (unpaid!) for their exhibitions.  There I got to meet famous author Arthur C. Clarke, the leading British artist Ralph (R.A.) Smith, who illustrated Arthur’s books, and other luminaries in the field.  Then a friend at the BIS (the one whose telescope I used) said he was going to visit Patrick Moore, an astronomer whose book Guide to the Moon had just become a best-seller, and asked if he could take some of my work to show him, which he did.  Patrick said that his next book, Guide to the Planets, had already been illustrated, but that he had another book which might interest me.

Title: “Scene on Mars by David A. Hardy (1954)”

Caption: Even in the fifties it was still possible to believe that there was vegetation on Mars, fed to the arid deserts by water from the polar caps.


            As a result, the first book I illustrated was Patrick Moore’s Sun, Myths and Men, a book about the legends of the stars, in 1954.  I had just five days in which to produce eight black-and-white illustrations before joining the RAF; this has been the story of my life ever since, really!  After completing my National Service, I got a job at Cadbury’s, near my home in Bournville, Birmingham, literally painting chocolate boxes.  This proved a very useful experience, and I continued my space art in my spare time.  In 1965 I left to go freelance.  I was then using gouache, and tried oils, which I liked except for their long drying time.  When acrylic media appeared I used them immediately.  In the 1980s I also used photography, becoming an ARPS (Associate of the Royal Photographic Society), and by the end of that decade started using computers; first an Atari ST and then Apple Macs, which I still use for illustration purposes, such as book covers.

Title: Expedition on Io by David A. Hardy (1953)

Caption: The sky is dominated by the huge, close gas giant Jupiter.  A ship is taking off after bringing supplies to a manned expedition.  In the fifties such a scenario seemed quite possible; but unmanned, automated vehicles have taken over in practice.


               My first one-man exhibition was at the London Planetarium in 1968, and this led to my first art print, “Stellar Radiance”, which was voted No. 6 by the Fine Art Trades Guild’s “Top Ten Prints” in 1970.  Two paintings from the exhibition were purchased by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.  I have since exhibited internationally, and my work is in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and is (or was) owned by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Sir Patrick Moore, Carl Sagan, Wernher von Braun, Isaac Asimov, Stephen Baxter and Brian May, amongst many others, and has won several awards.  It has also been used by a number of rock groups.  I did production art for The Neverending Story and have worked for TV, including of course The Sky at Night.  But I also illustrated and produced covers for many books and magazines, both factual and science fiction.

            It was in 1986 that I first heard of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA), which in some ways changed my life.  But that can be a subject for my next article.

David A. Hardy is European Vice President of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA), and is one of a handful of artists to have an asteroid named after him.  His website is, and he may also be found on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Title: 3000 miles from the Moon by David A. Hardy (1955).  Water color and gouache.  

Caption: “The Lunar Lander was designed by R.A. Smith of the British Interplanetary Society, which has several features later used by Apollo.  All of these paintings were intended to illustrate “Challenge of the Stars”, with Patrick Moore; a book which was not actually published until 1972, with much updated illustrations.”



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