The Big Skies Collaboration brings together arts practitioners, astronomers and local communities to explore and celebrate people’s relationships with the Cosmos within the 700 Kilometre Array (700KA) of astro-observatories in inland rural New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
Our mission is to inspire wonder, awe and lots of questions, and to offer country people scintillating cultural opportunities of a kind generally only available to city folk. Our Collaboration is expected to peak in July 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moonwalk, which famously involved several of the observatories in our 700KA region. 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.
April 2017: Our Big Skies Collaboration is working! Merrill Findlay‘s Skywriters Project has launched 12 Skywriters Hubs at libraries in inland NSW (March/April 2017), and registered 106 Skywriters. (Visit our Facebook page for more.)
And Peak Hill artist Scott Towney’s Wiradjuri Constellation Art, commissioned for Collaborator Trevor Leaman‘s Wiradjuri Astronomy Project, has been exhibited at the Cementa17 Festival of Contemporary Art, in Kandos, NSW, as an installation entitled Wiradjuri Murriyang (Wiradjuri Sky World), part of Collaborator Christine McMillan‘s Dome Project. More BSC news here >>
So have you too gazed at our unpolluted inland sky in wonder and awe like 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 this part of our planet an estimated 60,000 years ago. Within the last few hundred years people from all over the world have settled the inland and marveled at our Southern Sky through the lenses of their own cosmologies: European, Chinese, Arab, Persian, Indian, and 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 to our 700KA zone. This date is extrapolated from research conducted by Giles Hamm et al in the Warratyi rock shelter in inland South Australia, as 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 18 April 2017.