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A hermit's 15,000 page work of beauty

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Perhaps the most prolific artist of our time, Henry Darger's strange genius wasn't discovered until after his death. He was a lonely and highly reclusive man who worked for years as a janitor in Chicago. He was odd and unkempt, scavenged through the garbage for art supplies and talked to himself in strange voices. He never took an art class, never bought a manual on how to draw or paint, but when he died in 1973 -- buried in a paupers' cemetery not far away, with no family or friends to provide for his burial -- his landlord discovered a massive literary and artistic body of work that he had been creating since nearly the turn of the century. It included hundreds of paintings, many of them up to ten feet in length, and an amazing, 15,145-page fantasy graphic novel entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. A brief summary of the book, and more of Darger's strange outsider art, after the jump:

According to Wikipedia, the book

postulates a large planet around which Earth orbits as a moon and where most people are Christian (mostly Catholic). The majority of the story concerns the adventures of the daughters of Robert Vivian, seven sisters who are princesses of the Christian nation of Abbiennia and who assist a daring rebellion against the evil John Manley's regime of child slavery imposed by the Glandelinians. The latter resemble Confederate soldiers from the American Civil War. (Darger, like his father, was a Civil War expert.) Children take up arms in their own defense and are often slain in battle or viciously tortured by the Glandelinian overlords. The elaborate mythology also includes a species called the "Blengigomeneans" (or Blengins for short), winged beings with curved horns who occasionally take human or part-human form. They are usually (but not always) benevolent toward the Vivian Girls.

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Space
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

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Art
Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]

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