Big Skies Collaboration brings together arts practitioners, astronomers and local communities to creatively explore and celebrate people’s relationships with the cosmos and catalyze new economic, cultural, social and educational opportunities for communities in southeastern Australia’s rural Inland.
Our wish is that the Big Skies Collaboration’s creative interventions will bring lasting benefits to the communities involved, and perhaps even change people’s lives. Because such is the creative power of the arts and sciences.
Coming soon: a Discussion Paper on the Inland Astro-Tour concept by Dr Merrill Findlay. This document was to be presented at the National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers (NACAA) in Parkes, NSW, over the Easter 2020 long weekend. Unfortunately, NACAA 2020 has been cancelled because of COVID-19 so the Discussion Paper will now be released in mid-2020. More about it here >>
Totality along the Inland Astro-Trail: the 2028 Eclipse. Read Stuart Pearson’s article, The Sky’s the Limit With Astro-Tourism (Western Advocate 2 January 2020), on what the 2028 eclipse could mean for inland communities >>
Our first anthology, Dark Sky Dreamings: an Inland Skywriters Anthology (Interactive Press, 2019), was launched on 31 October, 2019 in Tamworth with the Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club.
Since then we’ve co-hosted a cascade of local launches along the Inland Astro-Trail at Grenfell, Forbes, Condobolin, Coonabrabran, and Bathurst. Our Dubbo launch scheduled for Saturday 28 March has been postponed because of COVID19.
BUY Dark Sky Dreamings here >>
3 April 2019: Read novelist and Big Skies Collaborator Tracy Sorensen‘s long-form essay, Staring At The Sun, about her visits to the Birmingham Solar-Oscillations Network (BiSON) observatories at Carnarvon, Western Australia, and Narrabri, New South Wales. Tracy, a non-scientist, reflects on her efforts to ‘get’ the science of solar seismology in a way that will make you smile, perhaps even laugh!
Birmingham, UK, May 2019: “Australian novelist writes about life at University of Birmingham’s solar observatories,” the headline reads.
The article continues: “Two of the University of Birmingham’s most remote solar observatories are featured in a long-form essay, Staring At The Sun, by Australian novelist Tracy Sorensen, published on the Big Skies Collaboration blog.” Says Steven Hale, BiSON Instrumentation Engineer at the University of Birmingham, “Tracy has done an amazing job of capturing the atmosphere at Carnarvon and Narrabri and the beauty of the clear inland skies. I hope her essay inspires a sense of wonder in readers and encourages more people to take an astro-tourism holiday in south-eastern Australia.” Read more here >>
So have you gazed at our big dark unpolluted inland sky in wonder and awe as we have? Have you asked the big questions the stars, planets and other celestial bodies provoke? Do you have compelling stories to recount about your own or other people’s relationships with the cosmos? Do you want to share them? Yes? Then please tell us and become part of our Collaboration too.
Australia’s First Peoples began observing the sky from our region at least 60,000 years ago. Within the last few hundred years people from all over the world have settled the Inland and marvelled at our Southern Sky through the lenses of their own cosmologies: ‘Western’, Chinese, Arab, Persian, Indian, Pacific Islander, for example.
Professional astrophysicists and astronomers are now exploring this same sky in new ways with the many research telescopes of our 700 Kilometre Array, while amateur astronomers are observing celestial phenomena with their own telescopes or their naked eyes from hundreds of backyards, footpaths, farms and parklands throughout the region.
Big Skies Collaborators are working with these communities to creatively interpret some of their star stories through music, song, dance, physical theatre, the visual arts, creative writing, and/or new digital media. Expect to be excited, inspired, even provoked by the outcomes.
Please note: Big Skies Collaborators are, in general, using the 60,000+ years BP (Before Present) date for the arrival of Australia’s first stargazers. This date is extrapolated from recent research, such as conducted by Giles Hamm et al. in the Warratyi rock shelter in inland South Australia and published in an article entitled ‘Cultural innovation and megafauna interaction in the early settlement of arid Australia‘, in Nature 539, 10 November 2016, pp. 280–283.
1. Detail of ESA/Hubble Telescope’s 2004 image of the Pleiades star cluster also known as NGC 1432/35 and M45. ESA/Hubble images, videos and web texts are released under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
2. The winter solstice sun rising over Seven Sisters Ridge, a Wiradjuri astronomy site near Yarrabandai, that is culturally connected to the mythic Seven Sisters of the Pleiades cluster, and the stories of the Seven Sisters Dreaming. Photo by Merrill Findlay, 21 July 2015.
3. Detail of ESA/Hubble Telescope image of merging galaxy cluster Abell 520.
Site history: created in January 2016 by Big Skies Collaborator Merrill Findlay. Static front page added 28 June 2016. Page last updated 4 August 2020.