The term ‘space tattoos’ is a very broad expression that can cover stars, sky, and even the spacecrafts that float high above us. Given this fact, it is hard to pinpoint any direct symbolism; however, the reason people get these tattoos is generally quite simple: a fascination with the beautiful, and deeply mysterious world above our own heads.
One of the most common themes for space tattoos is science fiction. These pieces generally show fearsome-looking aliens skulking about the hot surface of Venus; meteors plummeting towards Earth, or astronauts landing on the surface of the moon. This theme tends to take on a distinctively kitschy feel with Googie inspired spaceships, astronauts battling spacemen with ray guns, and pin up models riding rockets to the sun.
Many space tattoos leave out all of the extra stuff, and show the planets themselves in all of their beauty. One good example would be to create a small spiral of all of the planets; or even show them revolving. Some people — especially those interested in astrology — will choose a specific planet for their piece. In this instance, you can depict your chosen planet in a number of ways. For example, you could use the rich colors of a science fiction painting; you can use a realistic depiction taken straight from a photograph, or you can create a simple cartoon style.
Stars also feature largely in space tattoos. These tend to be more realistic than the usual star tattoos, and may simply show small points of light on the wearer’s skin. In that particular style, many people like to create a black or blue background (sometimes with small wisps of clouds, or a sun rising in the background), then add a random splash of lightly colored points, often with tiny glimmers of light surrounding them. This particular style is usually used for armbands, but you may also see them as chest plates, or spreading across the back and shoulders. Constellations may also make for an interesting piece. A small string of dots with connecting lines can be made to form the shape of each particular constellation. Many people like to create a more detailed image that depicts what the constellation is named after, such as a man bearing a shield and holding up a sword for Orion; a scale for Libra, or a dragon for Draco.
The idea of space has long fascinated mankind, and for that reason alone, has made it into our art. Given all of that, it is not surprising that — whether is be kitchsy sci fi, or textbook astronomy — space tattoos have become a distinctive part of our culture.