Monday, 16 May 2016

Stargazing Scotland - An Introduction

Each time I step out into the night I anticipate a new unforgettable experience. Be it something I see, something I’ve felt, some internal breakthrough, or a close encounter (owls, otters and aliens to name a few). This is what inspires me to embrace the challenges of night photography; dark conditions don’t make it easy for a photographer but what light remains is a joy to work with. It’s also full of mysteries and many surprises.

These mysteries are what fuel my passion for Astrophotography, Astronomy and Astrophysics. I’m fascinated (and often left scratching my head) by what we do know about the Universe. Stellar cycles, distance, relativity - this and much more enthralls me. Yet what fascinates me more is the unknown; many scientists like to think we live in a golden age of understanding when in reality we know so little about our Universe that 95% of it still remains a mystery! The Big Bang Theory is the most accepted explanation for our existence in our Western World, but it remains a theory and there are many others to consider. And that’s just our Universe, it’s incomprehensibly large and yet is probably but one tiny component in an infinite Multiverse.

Each time I gaze up at the stars the wonder of this unknown fills me up. The long exposures required with night photography provide me with time to appreciate my surroundings and revel in the diverse beauty of the cosmos. No two nights are quite the same for an artist working after sunset. Colours in the sky change regularly, as do the diverse range of seasonal subjects and one off encounters. The Milky Way, the Aurora, Lunar Phases, Planetary movements, Eclipses, Seasonal Constellations, Zodiacal Light, Meteor Showers, Atmospheric Glow, Comets and more add up to provide a huge amount of creative potential.

Thankfully I have found someone to share these experiences with. My partner Helen is the other half of (and arguably the brains behind) Viridian Skies. After graduating together in Wildlife and Media, we travelled across the UK. After a year we discovered the wonderful Dumfries and Galloway; light pollution free skies, Scottish landscapes and wildlife. Not to mention the friendly, welcoming, creative, wacky folk that inhabit this little corner of Scotland.

Together Helen and I run Astrophotography and Stargazing Tours, whilst exhibiting my images nationwide. Helen often accompanies me into the night and having someone to share these incredible experiences with makes it even more enjoyable. It’s easy to forget that we are not separate from the Universe. We are the Universe. We’re made of it, and yet our consciousness that drives this living Universal matter could be seen as a mystery.

We both believe it’s important to nurture our connection with the Universe. The designated Dark Sky areas across the World make this possible for a handful, but for most it requires more than just stepping out of a front door. It would be tragic to loose our visual connection with the Universe to light pollution, and through our Tours and Photography we aim to inspire more people to experience the wonders of the night sky. Visit our website and the Galloway Photography Collective Website to find out more. Our latest exhibition is in Designs Gallery and Cafe in Castle Douglas.

Jesse Beaman
Stargazing Scotland

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