The cover of The Last Stargazers!
I am SO excited to share the absolutely gorgeous cover design for The Last Stargazers! The artists and designers at Sourcebooks did an amazing job putting this cover together, and I can’t wait to get my first hardcover copy of the book and see how it looks in person!
Book Thoughts: Cover Art!
When I got my first look at the cover design for The Last Stargazers I was taken aback; it was so bright. I’d always assumed that the cover would be very dark: a nighttime mountaintop with a smattering of stars overhead, maybe a person or a telescope dome faintly visible in silhouette. I won’t embarrass myself too much by pulling up the old cover ideas I’d mocked up (featuring my serious lack of art skills and some very old versions of the title…) but they’d all been a dark blue/black color. The design that Sourcebooks sent me was completely different than what I had always pictured.
About 1.2 seconds after being surprised I realized: this cover was brilliant. The color was different, the art was exquisite, and the book evoked all the beauty of astronomy while also able to pop out amid the sea of dark-covered books on the “astronomy” shelf of a bookstore or library.
The illustration itself is an artist’s impression of our own Milky Way, complete with two wheeling spiral arms, a little track for the sun’s orbit, and a spray of stars. The little design touches – the title text, the font, the color palette, the perfect shading that makes it look 3D – are all incredible.
I may or may not have actually shouted “AAAH MY BOOK HAS A COVER” in my neighborhood coffeeshop when I first saw this…
The absolute best part of the cover is that little central region of the galaxy. In the mock-up image it looks like a bright circle right where the Milky Way’s bar-shaped center would be. In reality, that circle is actually a die cut, a hole in the dust jacket that peeks through to a surprise: the gorgeous star-studded cloth binding of the book itself.
This blew my mind.
IT LOOKS SO COOL.
What especially amazes me is that, despite being designed months ago before anyone had even seen the manuscript, the cover design perfectly evokes a detail of how observing has evolved that is featured in the early chapters of The Last Stargazers.
Back in the early- and mid-1900s, the best way to capture astronomical images was on glass photographic plates, which were chemically treated to darken when exposed to light. A photographic plate image of a spiral galaxy would look, in the end, not all that different from the book’s cover: a pale background with the galaxy showing up as a dark spiral. By contrast, the astronomy pictures we’re all used to seeing today are multi-colored starscapes, made possible by electronic detectors and precisely-engineered color filters:
A spiral galaxy observed by the 100-inch telescope on Mt. Wilson in 1910 (left) and with the Hubble Space Telescope and the 8.2-meter Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea in 2015 (right).
In short, the cover is a beautiful homage to how professional stargazers captured data in decades past, while also offering a glimpse of the vibrant cosmos that we’re studying now and in the years to come.
What’s Next for The Last Stargazers?
Pre-order information is coming very soon! Keep an eye out for future newsletters with information on how to get your very own (gorgeous) hardcover copy of The Last Stargazers on its August 4th, 2020 release date!