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.
Our February 2020 newsletter is out! Read it here >>
Join us on the Inland Astro-Trail for the launch of Dark Sky Dreamings: an Inland Skywriters Anthology on 31 October, 2019, from 8 pm, in Bicentennial Park, Tamworth, with some of the authors and astronomers from Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club. Press release about the launch here >>
Dark Sky Dreamings is now available at a special launch price of $30 (40% discount for contributors to the anthology). Pre-order your copies from the publisher here >>
19-20 October: 2019 Condo SkyFest hosted by the Wiradjuri Study Centre, Condobolin.
Featuring stargazing with Donna the Astronomer, dancing, art exhibitions, skystories with local elders, Wiradjuri language classes and other workshops and a very special Brunch with the Seven Sisters, an astro-tourism trip to Seven Sisters Ridge near Yarrabandai with local elders.
The anthology will be launched on Thursday 31 October in Tamworth, a regional city on our Inland Astro-Trail (IAT), during ArtState 2019 . We hope to then celebrate its publication at events co-hosted with partner organisations and supporters in other inland towns. 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.
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 >>
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 3 February 2020.