Simply because I don't have anything better to do today, I'm beating trevanian
to the punch and I'm reproducing and posting the relevant "Mike Minor's astronomical paintings from TOS
" content from the magazine Enterprise Incidents
, Issue Number 14 (February 1984). The article "Mike Minor: Star Trek
Through the Years" by Mr. James Van Hise is about ten pages long, so I'm not going to reproduce the whole thing. But the relevant content is in what has to be the longest single paragraph this side of Mark Twain's humorous short story "The Story of The Ram."
"I'd watched Star Trek
from when it first aired in 1966 and just got my guts together one day and called up Gene Roddenberry's office and made an appointment. I wound up going to see associate producer, Bob Justman, who went on do do hings like Man from Atlantis
and A Man Called Bronson
[I think he meant Then Came Bronson
--Ed.]. I had a pleasant little interview with Gene; he was more than civil. He was very warm and asked me for my background. I had a folio of sketches, astronomical art and slides which I showed to Bob Jusstman and he got me in touch with John Dwyer, the set director at the time on he show. We worked out a very simple deal where as an outside supplier I would bring in the finished work and, of course, Paramount could say that they were purchasing my work rather than hiring someone who was non-union since I was not involved or associated with any of the guilds at the time. They saw some of my sketches and Roddenberry said, 'You, know, I've always wanted to have art on the ship in some form or manner so that it's not so sterile. To portray the beauty of the universe on a budget. Something which would show that the universe is a beautiful place out there, not all bleak, dead planetoids.' So I came back to them some weeks later with some sketches and they liked them and chose several and I wound up doing about eighteen small acrylic paintings which were mounted and hung around several areas of the ship and if you blinked you'd miss them but they were there in Rec Room, Kirk's quarters, and the mess hall (which was a redress for budgetary purposes of the Rec Room). My goal was I purported to 'sell' them as the space traveller's guide to the universe, as snapshots or some kind of reproduction or memory of places they'd been on the tour of duty. There were little placards which I made up with little stardates. Some of them were from space, of planets and there there was one I did of the camera winging past an Earth-like planet with lots of clouds and in the distance was a double-star and it was throwing off hydrogen gas rings. I was quite enamored of that conjectural painting by (Chesley) Bonestell of the Bettalyrae [It's spelled Beta Lyrae--Ed.] system which is supposedly material from a blue giant being sucked off by a white dwarf companion, and because of gravitational forces it's whiplashing around the smaller companion and then being launched out into space as ever widening concentric rings. [I think he simply meant 'spiral' instead of 'ever-widening concentric rings'--Ed.] of hydrogen gas. As a matter of fact I made use of that years later in Spacehunter
in the opening. If you're up on astronomy you'll see that one in the opening shot of Spacehunter
. We come down to that in three dimensions, and go into that system and find a starliner drifting through on a sightseeing trip. Anyway, I did these paintings for Star Trek
in '67 and they purchased them for a very low figure, but it got me in the door. It was minimal money and they had a minimal budget of $6,000.00 for sets per episode and the set decorator had less than that."
For those that haven't seen Chesley Bonestell's famous "Beta Lyrae" painting, it looks like this:
As a side note, we get to see the Beta Lyrae star system (also sometimes called by its traditional Arabic name Sheliak
) in the animated episode "The Slaver Weapon." Mister Spock offers that "Beta Lyrae is one of the rare spectacles of the galaxy; almost every ship that passes stops to see it."