Painting a nebula

Massive, glowing, colourful space clouds! Bring these stunning nebulae into your home with a few art supplies.

  1. Set yourself up somewhere where it’s ok to get a bit messy. Old clothes or an art smock are a good idea too.
  2. Gather black paper (or paint your paper black and wait for it to dry), acrylic paints, a piece of sponge you have torn up to make a little rougher or a crumpled piece of plastic bag rolled into a ball, a paintbrush and a toothpick or wooden skewer.
  3. Dab a little bit of white paint onto the sponge, tap the excess and make your basic shape. You can research images of real nebula for inspiration or go freestyle!
  4. Then add in your other colours for depth. Go back in with more black and white paint to add shadows and light.
  5. To really make your nebula shine, use your paintbrush or an old, unused toothbrush to carefully flick some white paint, thinned with water to make some stars. Careful you don’t get paint everywhere!
  6. Use the toothpick to draw some starbursts on some of your larger droplets and your painting is complete!

A nebula is a massive cloud of gas and dust floating in space. They are among the largest objects in the universe. Some nebulae are regions where new stars are beginning to form, these are called star nurseries. Others come from the gas and dust thrown out by the explosion of a dying star.

The images of nebulae that you see from NASA are a combination of what our eyes would really see plus extra colours to highlight interesting objects within the nebula or to represent light that we cannot see with the human eye.

We would love you to share your paintings with us by using #Scienceworks #MuseumAtHome.

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