Culture, Myth and Art

Objects in the sky and other natural phenomena have inspired people throughout the ages. Browse our collection of myths, folk tales, and stories of many types about the Earth and sky. Check out artwork, poetry, books, and movies that portray the natural world.
For the Aztecs, who lived in central Mexico, <a href="/mythology/tonatiuh.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">Tonatiuh</a> was a <a href="/sun/sun.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">Sun</a> god. Aztecs believed that four suns had been created in four previous ages, and all of them had died at the end of each cosmic era. Tonatiuh was the fifth sun and the present era is still his. The carvings on this sunstone represent the four cycles of creation and destruction in the Aztec creation story. The skull at the center depicts the god Tonatiuh.<p><small><em>   Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.</em></small></p>Dutch painter Jan Vermeer painted the town of Delft, Holland where he lived for his entire life (1632-1675). Above the town, he painted <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/clouds/stratocumulus.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">stratocumulus clouds</a> in the sky. Stratocumulus clouds usually produce only light precipitation, in the 
form of <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/precipitation/drizzle.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">drizzle</a>.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Corel</em></small></p>Left 
section of the east frieze of the Siphnian Treasury (c. 525 B.C.) depicting 
from left to right <a 
Venus</a>, <a 
Diana</a>, and <a 
Apollo</a>. This portion of the frieze shows the gods sitting, watching the 
Greeks raid Troy.<p><small><em>   Image courtesy of the Superintendency (Ephoria) of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in Delphi. Greek Ministry of Culture-Archaeological Receipt Fund. (c) Greek Ministry of Culture.</em></small></p>British painter John Constable  (1776-1837) made many paintings of clouds. It looks like he depicted towering <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/clouds/cumulus.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">cumulus clouds</a> in this painting of Weymouth Bay.  These clouds may have turned into <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/clouds/cumulonimbus.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">cumulonimbus</a> and a <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/tstorm.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">storm</a> later in the day.<p><small><em> Public domain/Wikipedia</em></small></p>There are over 900 <a href="/the_universe/uts/megalith.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">rings of stone</a> located in the British Isles. The most famous of these stone rings is of course, <a href="/the_universe/uts/stonehenge.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">Stonehenge</a>.    The stones of Stonehenge were put in place between 3,000 B.C and 2,000 B.C. by neolithic people.Some speculate that the site was built as a temple of worship of the ancient Earth deities. Some say it was used as an <a href="/the_universe/uts/stonehenge_astro.html&edu=high&dev=1/windows.html">astronomical observatory</a> of sorts. Still others say it was a burial ground.<p><small><em>  Image courtesy of Corel Photography.</em></small></p>

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA