The Big Skies Collaboration brings together arts practitioners, astronomers and local communities to creatively 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.
Inland Astro-Trail Inc: Big Skies Collaboration’s Skywriters Project has birthed a new organisation to plan, develop and promote the Inland Astro-Trail in southeastern Australia’s 700 Kilometre Array region. The new group, Inland Astro-Trail Inc, was officially incorporated on 10 November 2017. The founding committee is currently developing a business plan and will soon invite all Local Government authorities, educational and research institutions, astronomical societies, professional and amateur astronomers and others within our region to join IAT Inc.. So watch this space!
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Our Collaboration’s mission is to inspire wonder, awe and lots of questions about humanity’s relationship with the cosmos, and to offer country people scintillating cultural opportunities of a kind generally only available to city folk. Outcomes of our Collaboration will 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.
So have you too 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 an estimated 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 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 14 March 2018.