Chesley Bonestell

(January 1, 1888 — June 11, 1986)

Chesley Bonestell was an architect, painter, designer, and astronomical illustrator who became fascinated with astronomy at age 10 when he viewed Venus in the sky and wondered why it was so bright. He trained as an architect in San Francisco, where he was born, and at Columbia University, then worked as a designer for several architectural firms, aiding in the design of the Chrysler Building in New York and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. He also worked in special effects in Hollywood on more than a dozen motion pictures, including War of the Worlds, When Worlds Collide, and Destination Moon.

From 1949 to 1972, he completed several books, including The Conquest of Space (1949) [with Willy Ley]. His paintings of space were used as cover illustrations for SF magazines during the 1940s-1960s, including Astounding Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Galaxy Science Fiction.

Over the years he contributed illustrations on space-related topics to many major magazines, including Life, Look, and Colliers.

He won many awards, including a Special Hugo Award in 1973. The Conquest of Space won the first International Fantasy Award for non-fiction (1951).

Bonestell was married four times, twice to the same woman: Mary Hilton (1911), Ruby Helder (1922), Mary Hilton again (1940), and Hulda von Neumayer Ray (1962).

Because of his influence on science fiction art and illustration, Bonestell was dubbed the "Father of Modern Space Art."

The Chesley Awards, presented in multiple categories annually at Worldcons, were established in 1985 as Association of Science Fiction Artists's peer awards to recognize the best SF and fantasy art each year. At first called the ASFA Awards, they were renamed to honor Bonestell after his death in 1986.