Typically, spaceships and astronauts inspire art--as the recent music videos from Metronomy and Broken Bells clearly illustrate--but occasionally astronauts find some free time in their otherworldy travels to make some astronomically awesome art.
This past week, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata used some spare moments aboard the International Space Station to create a spiral light painting that used the station's microgravity and a few LEDs to make some truly impressive photographs.
The work, called Spiral Top, was originally created by light artist Takuro Osaka, and Wakata used the familiar long-exposure photo technique to yield spiraling light beams that were enhanced by the zero gravity conditions of the makeshift photo "studio."
There have been other insane art projects that have been completed from above the Earth, though. In 2012, astronaut and Expedition 31 flight engineer Don Pettit took his own long exposure photographs from aboard the International Space Ship in a series called ISS Star Trails. Unlike Wakata, his photographs captured images of the stars and cosmos outside the ISS.
There have been a few other astronauts who prove that space travel and creative inspiration go hand in hand. Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, was the first person to record an original song in space, titled "Jewel In The Night." It may not be Billboard-ready, but still a big step for mankind. We wonder what it would sound like if David Bowie actually brought his Space Oddity to, well, space.
And we can't forget when Karen Nyberg knitted a plush, stuffed dinosaur on a space station and put it on Pinterest (she also made a lovely quilt on board).
Finally, though it may be hard to categorize as art, we can't write about creative uses of free time in space without mentioning the astro-selfie. This was deigned the best selfie of 2013 by pretty much everyone in the world, besides James Franco.
Sure, we have to ask if these projects are the best use of time while exploring the next-frontiers of the universe. But hey, what would you do with yourself if you were isolated on a spaceship in orbit? We'd probably try and one-up these astronauts with more art that could truly be called out of this world.
Hat tip to io9
Images via Wakata's Twitter