In search of dark skies
Eating breakfast today, I was looking at this month’s image in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year calendar: Robin Stuart‘s Highly Commended ‘A Wise Son Makes a Glad Father’. Stuart shot this at Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. ‘The Maasai people are semi-nomadic, using the stars to navigate across the East African plains. My goal was to capture the moment when a father passes his knowledge of the stars down to his son, and how to use the Milky Way and their hut as compositional elements … It was a novel experience, but as the image shows, a fruitful one!’
Looking at this beautiful image again — and remembering my visit to the wonderful exhibition at the Royal Greenwich Museum to see all of 2016’s winning photos — I wondered what sort of society we’d have now in the UK, in the West, if somehow we could have preserved our natural ‘dark skies’. For all but the tiniest fraction of our history, we’ve seen our universe shift from blue-white-and-finite to black-blue-and-infinite and then back again. Every night and every day.