Big Skies Collaboration brings together arts practitioners, astronomers and local communities to creatively explore and celebrate people’s relationships with the cosmos and create new opportunities for communities within the 700 Kilometre Array (700KA) region of southeastern Australia’s rural Inland.
May 2019: Our first Skywriters Anthology is now in production and will be released in November! Poetry and prose by more than fifty writers from inland NSW and beyond have been selected for inclusion in this ambitious collection.
We expect to launch the anthology in Tamworth, a regional city on our Inland Astro-Trail (IAT), during ArtState 2019, on the first weekend of November 2019. We hope to then celebrate its publication at events co-hosted with partner organisations and supporters in other IAT towns, including Armidale, Narrabri, Moree, Gilgandra, Coonabarabran, Dubbo, Parkes, Condobolin, Grenfell, Orange, Bathurst and Canberra. Contributing authors will have an opportunity to read from their works at these gigs. >>
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! Staring At The Sun is our first guest blog post. Please contact us if you’d like to add your own astro-themed essay to this site.
First Inland Astro-Trail Symposium and AGM, Parkes, 6 February 2019, about developing our IAT and what it might mean for inland communities.
Co-hosted by Inland Astro-Trail Inc. and partner organisations, including Parkes Shire Council, Arts OutWest, CENTROC and Destination Country and Outback. This event will be followed by the first IAT Inc. AGM and election of new office bearers and dinner at The Dish Cafe with guest speaker Dr Jane Kaczmarek, resident astrophysicist and passionate STEAM outreacher at the Parkes Observatory. More >>
IAT Inc. membership forms here >>
November 2018: The Seven Sista’s Weavings exhibition, a highlight of the first Condo SkyFest at the Wiradjuri Study Centre in the small inland town of Condobolin, is likely to go on tour in 2019. These sculptural weavings by Wiradjuri Master Weaver and Big Skies Collaborator Bev Coe and the fibre artists of the Condo SistaShed include the Mulayndnang, or Seven Sisters of the Pleiades star cluster; Gugurmin, the Celestial Emu who lives in the Milky Way; and Maliyan the Wedge Tail Eagle, the constellation Aquilla. Please contact Arts OutWest if you’d like to host this culturally (and astronomically) significant exhibition.
November 9/10 2018: First Condo SkyFest at the Wiradjuri Study Centre in the small town of Condobolin, NSW. Stargazing, art exhibitions, skystories, sky dancing, sky weavings and lots of workshops and activities for young astronomers. More on Facebook @BigSkiesCollaboration and @CondoSkyFest
October 2018: our first Big Skies Collaboration newsletter is now circulating with updates on our current projects, including the Skywriters Anthology, Condo SkyFest (9/10 November), Inland Astro-Trail, Stalker Theatre’s Big Skies production, David Reiter’s Outer Space – Inner Thoughts, Tracy Sorensen’s Carnarvon to Narrabri: a literary journey, and Merrill Findlay’s Skycountry: a cosmography, plus our China connections >>
Report to the 2018 National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers (NACAA) in Ballarat, plus an invitation to extend or Inland Astro-Trail >>
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 and other opportunities of a kind generally only available to city folk. 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 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 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, and in publications by other authors.
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 15 May 2019.