Farmington Museum show showcases satellite imagery of planet

'Earth from Space' opens Jan. 11 and runs through March

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
Images from the "Earth from Space" exhibition opening this weekend at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park are lined up against a wall in the museum gallery.

FARMINGTON — "Earth from Space," the new exhibition opening this weekend at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, is all about offering viewers a different perspective on the planet they call home.

"They're turning the lens around and showing images of Earth from space," Farmington Museum director Bart Wilsey said, describing the show. "It's an interesting show because it records all kinds of events and how they affect the Earth, like dust storms, deforestation, hurricanes and natural disasters."

The show, which consists of 20 large-format digital images printed and mounted on poster board, originated with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Smithsonian Institution. The images were captured by high-tech satellites and are accompanied by text that explains how the imagery is processed and used.

The "Earth from Space" exhibition opening this weekend at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park features 20 images of the planet captured by satellites.

The show includes images of New York City, San Francisco, the Florida Everglades, California forest fires, Mount Kenya, the Bering Sea and the Amazon. Wilsey said one of the elements of the exhibition that surprised him was an image that portrays the dominance of agriculture, with hundreds of circles apparently representing irrigation systems.

"It's a little mosaic of circles," he said, explaining he found the image relevant to what part of the landscape in San Juan County must look like from space. "That would be kind of interesting in relation to (Navajo Agricultural Products Industry) and what they're doing."

Another of the more visually stimulating images in the exhibition is one of McCartys lava flow in Cibola County adjacent to Interstate 40. According to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science website, the field, which is 40 kilometers long and formed approximately 3,900 years ago, is the youngest lava flow in the state, and one of the youngest and longest lava flows in North America. It parallels the route of N.M. Highway 117, the website states.

A satellite image of New York City is processed at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park in preparation for the opening of the "Earth from Space" exhibition this weekend.

The image of the lava flow featured in the show was captured in April 2000. The lava, portrayed in black, is juxtaposed against the surrounding vegetation, pictured in red.

The exhibition also features two images of the Amazon captured a quarter-century apart that portray the amount of deforestation that occurred there in that time.

An image from the "Earth from Space" exhibition opening this weekend at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

"It would be interesting to match that up with now. That's a global topic we're dealing with," Wilsey said, describing the difference revealed in the two images as alarming.

Another image that local outdoors enthusiasts might find interesting is a shot of the Earth at night, one that demonstrates how brightly lit the planet is even when it is shrouded in darkness. As light pollution continues to spread, the image conveys the size of the challenge faced by those promoting the dark skies movement.

Wilsey hopes the show draws a lot of school children, indicating it has a lot of applications for those interested in the natural sciences.

"The nice thing about this show is it has a lot of online resources, so if teachers want to use for a teaching moment, there are a lot of resources for geology, meteorology, and oceanography," he said.

Images capturing rising floodwaters, the Florida Everglades and the Lena Delta from the "Earth from Space" exhibition await hanging in the gallery at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

The exhibition will be on display Jan. 11 through March 28 at the museum, 3041 E. Main St. Admission is free. Call 505-599-1174.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610, or via email at

Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.