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How My Photo Went from Reddit to the Walls of NASA


About 4 months ago, I posted a photo of my 7-hexagon canvas cluster to Reddit’s r/space (on a Sunday, the only day you’re allowed to post your own astro photos to the sub). The title of the post was: “I’m a photographer and print-maker and my passion is the night sky. I made this 7-hexagon canvas cluster in honor of the forthcoming James Webb Telescope. The photo is of the Milky Way over WEBBer Lake, CA.”

The post went viral and was on the top of Reddit for several hours that day. I received a lot of interest in my work, but due to posting links to my website the post was eventually removed due to “Self Promotion”… but not before it had spread far and wide on the Internet.

The canvas cluster was made in honor of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, shown in this artist rendering. The telescope will be launched in 2021.

It eventually made its way to Carl Starr, the Mission Operations Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope — he said his sister sent it to him. He contacted me asking if I’d be willing to make a copy of the piece for the JWST Mission Operations Center, and of course, I agreed.

This month I shipped the piece out to them, and on July 20th I was able to tour the facility in Baltimore, Maryland, with Carl as our tour guide and see the piece on the wall with my own two eyes.

The piece hangs directly across from the doors to the JWST Mission Operations Center. Holding the door is Carl Starr, the Mission Operations Manager for the James Webb Space Telescope.
I’m always honored to know my art is hanging on ANY wall. But this wall is special. And that is the understatement of the decade.
What a surreal feeling (and huge honor) to see my print in the same proximity as this iconic logo.
Carl and the other members of the team are clearly very proud of the Mission Operations Center. It was designed with openness in mind. Carl made a point of telling us that, as this is a science-based mission, there is very little that is classified and transparency is core to the way the mission is run, right down to the glass walls that separate the rooms of the MOC. We were allowed to take photos of all the rooms except the conference room where a meeting was underway.
The Sabelhaus Flight Control Room is similar to what you’ve seen in NASA-related hollywood movies like Apollo 13, but more modern and less cavernous. It’s also incredibly comfortable and has a great view! It’s essentially a series of strategically-placed work stations where all of the day to day operations of the telescope are orchestrated.

It is one of the great honors of my life to know that my work resides in the presence of the men and women who are responsible for what may prove to be one of humankind’s most important technological achievements.

Thank you to Carl, Carl, Steve, and the rest of the crew for the unforgettable tour, and for letting me be a tiny footnote in the history that you are working daily to create. I hope you enjoy my art for many years to come. I’ll be watching with wonder along with the rest of the world as you continue to push humanity’s collective view of the universe (and our place in it) further than ever before.

Copies of this hexagon cluster are available in a very limited edition here.

About the author: Phil Mosby is a photographer and printmaker based in Lake Tahoe. The opinions in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Mosby work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.