1894 - 1937
D. Owen Stephens, a painter who specialized in astronomical subjects, was the artist for the American Museum of Natural History's 1937 Hayden Planetarium-Grace Peruvian Eclipse Expedition. Born into a family of artists, Stephens at first trained to be a professional astronomer, but did not earn a degree. He eventually worked as an architect, mathematician and writer, and was associated with Rose Valley, an artists' colony in southeastern Pa., where he taught a class in the school. Stephens became interested in the possibility of translating scientific knowledge into art forms. In painting, Stephens' focus turned from landscapes to the night sky and astronomical scenes; he first painted a solar eclipse in 1925, and another in 1932. At that time, a painter could make a more accurate image of an eclipse than a camera, as the colors had not yet been successfully caught on film and the photograph had to be overexposed to show the outer corona, thereby losing the details of the inner corona. Stephens' experimental prose poem on evolution, Flow of horizons, was published in 1936, and he was working on a simplified and illustrated version for children, called The fish that walked and talked. Stephens was returning from the Peruvian expedition when he suffered a stroke and died on June 23, 1937, age 43.
Worked at the American Museum of Natural History in Hayden Planetarium.
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