The Astronomical Illustration of Lynette Cook
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Interested in both art and nature, Lynette Cook majored in Biology and Drawing & Painting at Mississippi University for Women, receiving Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. She then moved West for graduate school, specializing in scientific illustration at the California College of Arts and Crafts and receiving a Master of Fine Arts. Internships at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco led to the staff job of Artist/Photographer for the Morrison Planetarium, a position she held for sixteen years. Cook has been self-employed since 2001.

Early freelance work included botanical and biological imagery as well as product illustration: note cubes for The Nature Company and the Food for Thought posters titled Periodic Table of the Fishes, Periodic Table of Rare and Endangered Species, and Chocolate.

Today she is well-known for her exoplanet artworks, many of which have accompanied discovery press releases. Her work on this subject began in 1995, following the announcement of the first confirmed extrasolar planet orbiting a sunlike star, 51 Pegasi b. Cook's illustrations are featured in the adult-level book Infinite Worlds: An Illustrated Voyage to Planets Beyond Our Sun, which she co-authored with Ray Villard, and the children's book titled Faraway Worlds: Planets Beyond Our Solar System, written by Paul Halpern.

Lynette consults with astronomers, science editors, and art directors, to discuss what these alien places might look like and decide how best to represent the subject matter. She then creates a work of art based on the known data; sometimes incorporating scientifically plausible elements such as moons and planetary rings as well. Trained traditionally, she once used a mixed media technique of gouache, colored pencil, and acrylic airbrush paint. Several years ago Cook transitioned to digitally-created scientific imagery.

Recent illustration projects include a mural for the Lyman Museum in Hilo, Hawaii, and press release imagery for SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. Cook is a participant in the 2018 documentary Chesley Bonestell; A Brush With The Future, produced by Douglass M. Stewart Jr.

Missing the feel of a brush in her hand and pigment on the palette, in 2010 Lynette began painting realist urban scenes and now walk the paths of scientific illustrator and fine artist together. You can view her paintings and find a list of current and upcoming exhibitions at:

Lynette is a Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists.

Cook's CV can be found here.