As I write this blog post we are in the middle of International Dark Sky Week 2018.
This annual event began in 2003 with the aim of celebrating the wonders of our night skies and engaging people with the problems of light pollution.
Dartmoor’s dark skies
Regular readers of this blog will know that I live and work within the boundaries of Dartmoor National Park.
This means that, even though I live in a small town, I can still step outside on a clear night and see the stars. This is something I am very happy about.
To see the best of the night sky, however, I need to venture up onto the high moorland, away from the lights of the towns. Which is what we did this week, as part of Dartmoor National Park’s celebration of International Dark Sky Week.
To be honest, that’s underselling it.
It was not so much that it was raining, more that all the air had been replaced by water. Great sweeping bands of wet, soggy mist blew down from the tors, soaking us as we scrambled out of the car and made our way quickly through the trees to the warmth of the Moorland Hotel.
Star gazing would have to wait for another day.
In its place we were treated to a range of presentations from the Astrophysics department of the University of Exeter. This was some truly fascinating stuff, taking us from the birth of stars through to the search for life in the far reaches of our galaxy.
Hugely interesting, despite us being there on a night were we couldn’t see to the end of the car park, let alone into outer space.
So we have to imagine
If we cannot see the stars then we have to imagine them.
And this is what I chose to do when I sat down and planned out a new illustration for International Dark Sky Week.
I wanted to capture both the star-filled night sky and a slice of Dartmoor’s wonderful scenery, and the idea of a big body of water seemed an obvious way to get the most stars for our money. Burrator Reservoir was something I had wanted to illustrate for a while now, so I pulled out my map and worked out which way I would want to be looking in order to see the full effect of the Milky Way.
With the scene plotted out, and having given myself permission to employ a fair amount of artistic licence when it came to painting all those stars, I picked up my pen and began to paint.
Although very much part of my Devon and Dartmoor series of illustrations, this one deviates a little, style-wise, through having a much more detailed sky. Gone are the block colours and in comes a kaleidoscope of coloured stars.
If you’re celebrating our wonderful night sky then you have to show it off.
Limited run posters
The initial response to this new illustration has been encouragingly positive and I have chosen to make a limited run of these posters available.
They are being printed at this moment and will be posted out as soon as I have received them back from my printers. As always they are printed on 100% recycled paper by an eco-specialist printing company.
You can order your copy of this limited run through my Etsy shop now.
Even as International Dark Sky Week 2018 draws to a close, there are still all sorts of opportunities to get involved with enjoying and preserving our important night skies.
Head over to the Dark Sky website to find out what you can do.
Get your copy of the Dark Skies poster