The Simple 30 Second Guide to Distinguishing Astronomical, Space, and Science Fiction Art
Okay, here it is, simple, sweet, and requires no Freudian analysis. My guide to distinguishing between astronomical art, space art, and science fiction art.
If the picture looks like it could be in an astronomy textbook or could have been taken by a robotic mission to a planet or looks like something you would see through a telescope and the picture contains only natural forms, then it's astronomical art. If it doesn't then it ain't.
If it qualifies as astronomical art and has humans in space suits or man-made rocket ships or man-made structures and nothing more, then it's space art. This is the type of art used to illustrate non-fiction books about the future of human space exploration.
Science Fiction Art
If it contains BEMs (bug-eyed monsters), battles, bimbos, or battlin ‘Bots, then it's definitely SF art. Note that space art can be used to illustrate the cover of a science fiction novel but you will not see a picture of a lecherous robot blasting through space in hot pursuit of a scantily suited astronautess being used to illustrate the cover of NASA's latest report to Congress.
How's that for simplicity – and clarity. That concludes this lesson
Ad Astra, Jim