Super moons are not as super as the media make out

Cartoon about the media coverage of supermoons

Cartoon about the media’s distortion of the visual impact of a super moon

Super moons were unheard of in the media until the last few years. Now every time the moon gets close to the earth in its orbit the press is full of it, with misleading photographs to make the moon look huge and spectacular (taken with telephoto lenses so that the moon looks large compared to objects such as people or buildings in the distance).

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Reach for the stars – cartoon

cartoon - studying the stars with a telescope

A cartoon showing an astronomer reaching for the stars by reaching up inside an astronomical telescope.
The astronomer’s hand is appearing out or the top of the telescope as though it is grasping for the stars.

An illustration concerning people’s urge to discover more about the universe through scientific exploration.

A cartoon about scientific exploration, inquiring minds, curiosity, curiousity, reaching for the stats.

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Professor Brian Cox cartoon – we are stardust

professor brian cox cartoon we are stardust

Professor Brian Cox cartoon
We are made of stardust

A humorous comment about the fact that all of the elements apart from hydrogen and helium were created inside stars – so everything is made of stardust

The joke here is that when the tv astronomer Professor Brian Cox says that everything is made of stardust he really lays it on thick in a way that many people, especially women, find very attractive. So here the woman is actually saying that she finds Brian Cox attractive, and it even affects her attitude to slugs

See my book on the nature of the universe
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Scientific research project budgets – cartoon

scientific research budget cuts cartoon

Scientific research project budgets – cartoon

A cartoon to illustrate articles about cuts in budgets for scientific research.

The cartoon shows research funding going to a research project that monitors the effects of the cuts in research funding.
The cartoon shows an astronomical observatory that has been closed down due to lack of finance.
This cartoon was originally drawn to illustrate an article in the BBC magazine Knowledge
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Sat-nav error cartoon. Guided to the wrong destination

sat-nav error to M31 - cartoon

Sat-nav cartoon – a car guided by sat-nav taken to the wrong destination

The sat nav (GPS) has guided to car to the wrong M31 (the Andromeda galaxy instead of the M31 motorway).

The M31 motorway doesn’t actually exist by the way – it was planned but never completed.
The cartoon is about the way that car drivers will blindly and slavishly follow the instructions of their sat-navs even when they are completely wrong, sometimes going to the wrong destination of the same name
It says something about the way that the human race can follow the wrong path without realising the potential consequences
This is an astronomy cartoon

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Philosophy cartoons – human significance compared to the scale of the universe

human insignificance in a huge universe - cartoon

Cartoon – the insignificance of humans in the universe

A cartoon about the question: does the vast immensity of the universe mean that people are insignificant?
Personally I think that the answer is no, but it’s a thing that a lot of people think (My opinion is that it’s a mistake to judge significance in terms of physical scale – you can find out more about my views on this in my book on related subjects
The cartoon answers critics of science who claim that science strips away the wonder and awe of creation (as in the expression by Keats – unweaving the rainbow – adopted by Richard Dawkins as the title of one of his books)

A cartoon about life, the universe and everything, the cosmos, the human condition, the fallacy of scale, meaning of life, religion, spirituality. A spiral galaxy cartoon, astronomy cartoon
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A (fictitious) interstellar nebula shaped like a question mark – illustration

Interstellar nebula in the form of a question mark

An image of an interstellar nebula shaped like a question mark – illustration created in Photoshop.
Inspired by photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope

The “Question mark nebula” shown here is an astronomical phenomenon of my own invention. See the note below about the ‘real’ Question Mark nebula

The nebula symbolises humanity’s quest for meaning, especially when confronted by the enormity of the cosmos. (Having said that, my own opinion is that the size of the universe is irrelevant to such matters, but that’s another story).

Since creating it I’ve discovered that there is an actual nebula that goes by the same name. The ‘real’ Question Mark Nebula is an area of sky that includes parts of the nebulae NGC 7822, Ced 214, and Sh2-170
An illustration related to philosophy, astronomy, cosmology, science, the meaning of life, the nature of the universe.

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Who was the third man to walk on the moon? Cartoon

third man on the moon cartoon

A cartoon about the nature of fame

Who was the third man to walk on the moon?
It was Pete Conrad.

A cartoon about the transience of fame and celebrity, and the judgement of achievement.

Most people know that Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, and that Buzz Aldrin was the second.
But no-one remembers who the third man on the moon was.
Or the fourth.
The fourth man to walk on the moon was Alan Bean.

Pete Conrad and Alan Bean were the lunar landing crew of Apollo 12, the second moon mission to land on the moon.

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Apollo lunar excursion module (lem) design cartoon.

Apollo lunar excursion module design cartoon - so 1960s

Apollo lunar excursion module cartoon – so 1960s

Cartoon showing an Apollo moon mission lem (lunar excursion module) in a museum.
A person is commenting on the seemingly antiquated design, saying that it’s ‘so 1960s!’

It’s a cartoon that comments on the fact that the Apollo moon missions took place in a time that is now history, although when they happened they felt like (and were) a symbol of the modern age – the space age.
In Britain the prime minister used the expression ‘the white heat of technology’ to describe the progress of the era.
It also comments on the fact that in the early 21st century we live in a design obsessed age (look at Apple products), where design is often appreciated before usefulness.

I first drew this cartoon in 1999, when the 1960s weren’t so far in the past!
This is a redrawn version prompted by the death of Neil Armstrong.

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Neil Armstrong dies – cartoon

neil armstrong dies - cartoon

The first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, dies
Obituary cartoon

To mark the death of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, this cartoon shows the Apollo landing craft coming in to land at the pearly gates of heaven.

Apollo 11 reached the moon in summer 1969. Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, followed closely by Buzz Aldrin. Who remembers who the third man to walk on the moon was? (Charles P. (Pete) Conrad, who died in 1999, aged 69, following a motorcycle accident. I don’t recall hearing about it in the news. Such is the measure of achievement).
Just for the pedantic amongst you, I know that the lunar landing craft (or lem – lunar excursion module) would have had Buzz Aldrin in it in real life rather than just Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin hasn’t yet died – but this isn’t real life, it’s a cartoon (There are no pearly gates in real life either).
I’m very pleased to say that one of the first requests to use this cartoon came from NASA. You can see it here.

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Cartoon/illustration: God, creation myths and the nature of the universe

God reading about the true nature of the universe

Cartoon about God and the creation of the universe

Illustration showing a creation myth

Part of the joke in the cartoon is that the god figure is reading a book that explains the origins of the universe.
A cartoon about creation myths, intelligent design, genesis
The cartoon is an updated version of an illustration that I produced in the 1980s for the Guardian newspaper.
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Cartoon. A Stargazing Live cameraman and a Springwatch cameraman filming the same scene

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springwatch and stargazing live cartoon

Cartoon. A cameraman filming the moon for Stargazing Live and a cameraman filming an owl for Springwatch.

Cartoon. The popular science tv programme Stargazing Live and the popular nature programme Springwatch have similar formats – a mixture of banter, audience participation and interesting information. In this cartoon both programmes are being filmed simultaneously to highlight their similarity.

Stargazing Live is filming the moon, while Springwatch is filming an owl.
Stargazing Live owes some of its popularity to one of its presenters, professor Brian Cox.
Both television programmes are produced by the BBC
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We are stardust – cartoon. Everything is made of stardust

Cartoon. Everything is made of star dust

Stardust cartoon
We are stardust – everything is stardust

An illustration of the idea that we are made of stardust. This is a nice idea, but the problem is that it’s more mundane than it sounds, as everything is made of stardust, including unpleasant things.
It’s a phrase that is given spiritual and pseudo-spiritual layers of meaning, but it is in fact just a statement of fact about the general nature, construction and evolution of the universe.
The fact that it’s just a fact doesn’t actually make it less that incredible though. It’s just that everything is incredible about the universe, even without pseudo-spiritual overtones

The phrase “We are stardust” first gained popularity in the song by Joni Mitchell. It is popular again now because it is used by scientists such as professor Brian Cox (who is the scientific equivalent of a pop star)

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Philosophy cartoon. Which is more interesting – the night sky or a night on television?

Philosophy cartoon. Someone staring at the night sky and finding it boring when compared to television

Philosophy cartoon
Is outer space boring or awe inspiring?

Someone staring at the night sky and finding it boring when compared to a night’s television viewing (or other digital entertainment)

A cartoon about our perception of our place in the universe, spirituality, awe, world views, spiritual perspectives, existentialism

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Galileo cartoon. Galileo discussing his telescope’s discoveries with the Pope

Galileo carton - discussing his telescope's discoveries with the church

Galileo cartoon
Galileo discussing the discoveries he made with his telescope with the church

The representative from the church (the Pope?) is thinking of hitting Galileo on the head with his telescope in order to shut him up.
The joke is that Galileo’s telescope made the discoveries and the church wants to use Galileo’s telescope to silence him

A cartoon about anti-scientific religious thinking, suppression of knowledge, fundamentalism, religion, doctrine, the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo Galilei, pope Urban VIII
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Creation myth cartoon. Cavemen debate the nature of the universe

Creation myth cave painting - cartoon

Primitive creation myths cartoon
Prehistoric cave painting cartoon

Cartoon of cavemen debating the nature of the universe.
The birth of religion.

A cartoon about the possibility that people would rather believe what they want to believe rather than what actually is. We all do this. It’s also about the fact that our caveman ancestors were probably more intelligent and aware than is sometimes thought. They had to be to survive, after all
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Moon cartoons – desert island

Moon cartoons - desert island shaped like the moon

Moon cartoon – or desert island cartoon (or spaceflight cartoon)

Moon mission or space exploration joke.
A manned space mission to the moon crash lands on earth in the ocean. The astronaut is washed up on a desert island shaped like the moon

A twist on the cartoon cliche of the desert island joke.
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A cartoon about apathy about learning and education

cartoon about apathy about knowledge  about the wonders of the universe

A child who is not interested in learning anything

Cartoon showing a boy who has no sense of wonder or curiosity about the world, and who isn’t interested in learning anything about how the world works.
The cartoon shows a teacher trying to explain how the moon orbits the earth

A cartoon about intellectual apathy, ignorance, dumbing down, under achievement, illiteracy, low attainment, knowledge, teaching, inspiring teachers, scientific literacy
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