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(Re)connecting the humanities and art to space

Indiscriminately, my friends and colleagues of all backgrounds followed along excitedly from the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope to the release of its first images. Most of my colleagues are fellow engineers, while I keep friends whose interests span across all art disciplines and every letter of STEM. What is the allure of the cosmos, and what role does beauty and culture play in our engagement with space science?
I’ve had friends express an interest in space but feel they can’t engage with astronomy content because they don’t have a science background. Smudging the lines between science, art and culture has led to incredible advancements and movements — it's in our best interests.
The way we engage with and consider space has changed drastically over time, and I wonder if we will be able to recover a mainstream culture in which art and science influence and inspire each other. 

Recreating excitement and curiosity

The coinciding Space Age and Atomic Age cultural/design movements signified dazzling optimism, curiosity about science, and fear over nuclear war. Chelsey Bonestell was a prolific artist in this period whose work inspired both science fiction and reality. When space travel seemed impossible, art created a buzz compelling the public to question 'what if?'. Past futuristic influences can be seen even in fashion to this day; using manmade textiles such as PVC in clothing was regarded as novel and was popularised around the same period.
Science fiction, at this time, was driven by both this excitement, but often was also a display of the anxiety associated with the period. Reflecting on this, many recent science fiction works deal so heavily in the dystopian, with very little of the hope we saw before. Space travel and space art/fiction is impossible to separate from political matters. With the context of the richest people taking on private space companies, many ordinary folks find recent space ventures to be symbolic of widening inequality, and contemporary space art mirrors this.
Finding that hope and wonder for ourselves has gotten more difficult, too. 80% of us live under light-polluted skies. Recent satellite deployments haven't helped matters, either, often proving a detriment to our enjoyment of the cosmos. 
We’re left with exciting space missions with none of the aforementioned cool aesthetics left. Letting the results of science endeavours speak for themselves may now be the most powerful tool to ignite wonder.

Staying in touch with our natural world and ourselves

Suspense was drummed up for years leading up to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launch, and even more anticipation waiting for the big reveal of its first images. Even without knowing the significance new data JWST is providing for physics, anyone can be moved by the beauty of space. The comparison of JWST photos against (still beautiful) Hubble photos is enough to inspire anyone.
It isn’t all about glitzy innovation and advancement and star-studded pictures. It is worth mentioning that several people I’ve talked to about space feel uneasy thinking about it and are scared over its apparent mystery and vastness. There is the beauty, yes, and for some, it’s paired with feeling infinitesimal. For some, it triggers an existential reaction.
Another way of enjoying the stars, (not often given much thought to by scientific communities) is how thinking about the cosmos can lead us to look within ourselves. With such a strong resurgence of modern astrology, it feels as though many are engaging in a way not dissimilar to how many would've done historically.
If many are moved by questions relating to the self, whether they are from a scientific background or otherwise, it seems wrong to not bridge some of these thoughts pertaining to hard physics with common philosophical questions. News and research relating to missions like JWST are naturally mostly published by science news outlets, whose readers will likely already be interested and have prerequisite knowledge on the topics. I wonder if these stories can reach interested audiences without requiring much science knowledge, and importantly without 'dumbing it down' or treating it like a lesser engagement. Humans banding together around the globe for a common goal, peering billions of years into the past, painting the picture of the formation of galaxies: these all create compelling imagery that most of us can appreciate. These make me feel as though we live in an optimistic, innovative world like ones dreamed of in the Space Age.
It is such a pity that I've still not read any novels or seen artwork of us touching the oldest galaxy we've ever seen, the mystery of it all, and how it makes us little humans feel.