Still scrambling for gift ideas, or can’t wait to start shopping for yourself? This week the Atlas Obscura staff is eying a pair of fascinating books, a rock with fiber optic powers, a new way to look at one of David Bowie’s most popular songs, and a watch that will have you looking to the stars. Scroll down for this week’s Wishlist.
The world looks both beautiful and wounded in Benjamin Grant’s Overview, a collection of incredible high-definition satellite photos of (sometimes devastating) human activity. Some of the best photos are practically abstract. It takes awhile to puzzle out that, “Oh, those are shipping containers.” — David Plotz, CEO
$73-$259, Fine Art America
Designer Valentina D’Efilippo and researcher Miriam Quick have created Oddityviz, a data visualization project that takes David Bowie’s iconic 1969 song “Space Oddity” and deconstructs 10 elements of it into beautiful data visualizations. As posters, they’re also available to hang on your wall, a visual reminder of Major Tom’s final voyage into space. — Ashawnta Jackson, Editorial Fellow
When you live in a big city, it’s easy for the celestial world to slip behind a veil of smog or disappear within the light pollution that seeps into the sky each night. Astronomical watches like this one, with its blend of colors and extraterrestrial details, are a wonderful way to have a bit of nighttime magic on hand (or to be literal, on wrist) at all times. The fact it places Earth at its epicenter and pays homage to ancient Egyptian astronomy only adds to its charm. — Kerry Wolfe, Places Fellow
In the age of ubiquitous screens, how could a rock possibly compete with the visual fireworks constantly at our fingertips? Yet Ulexite, commonly known as TV rock, remains a surprising visual delight. The mineral is a complex arrangement of sodium, water, and hydroxide. When an image (printed images work particularly well) is placed on one side of the rock, you can watch as the tiny fibers inside “transmit” the image to the top of the rock. This incredible fiber optic quality was discovered in 1956, earning it the “TV rock” moniker, though it would surely be just as magical if it were called the iPhone rock. — Dylan Thuras, Co-Founder
Tree surgeons are cool. Birds are cool. Lego is cool. Thomas Poulsom is a tree surgeon who builds birds out of Lego bricks. A few years ago, Lego got ahold of his designs for a robin, hummingbird, and blue jay, and they were made into a set. Unfortunately it’s no longer available, but Birds From Bricks has full-color instructions for building those and 12 other detailed aviary designs. And it covers at least one bird from every continent. — Michael Inscoe, Places Fellow
Atlas Obscura's Wishlist is an occasional feature about the items we'd most like someone to buy for us right now. Each item is independently selected by our editorial staff. If you buy something through our links, Atlas Obscura may earn an affiliate commission.