AN ASTONISHING SIGHT: The celestial landscape
The stellar studded sky will appear differently, depending on the setting and location. Whether in a desert setting, floating on the ocean or exploring the view from a multitude of mountain contours, the environmental light will impact our vision.
The clarity of the star scattered sky has indeed become a rare thing, an exception even. This impressive expanse, which has fascinated and inspired human kind throughout history, is losing its contrast and ability to illuminate. It is our responsibility to reverse this situation.
Study subjects: Natural sciences, Meteorology, Physics, the Landscape.
PHILOSOPHICAL GAZE: Cosmovisions
Human beings have always been inclined to construct a geocentric picture of the world. In ancient times, the sky appeared as unattainable as it did rigidly unyielding. More than four hundred years ago, a telescope of low magnification was able to penetrate its secrets and amplify our universe. The continued discoveries in nature and the laws that govern it swept us up in the scientific revolution of the modern era, then later there followed the relativity and quantum physics of our contemporary world.
Study subjects: History of Science, Philosophy, Religion.
AN IMAGINARY GAZE: When the sky is the dwelling place of divinities and other beings
Above, in the sky, far from the earthly world, is the sacred. On the polytheistic sky of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, the firmament was filled with legends of Gods and legends of Gods and Heroes. With Christianity came the slogan “Coelienarrant gloriam Dei” (The heavens narrate the glory of God). Just by looking at the sky with its stars, planets, and admiring the synchronous movements of the stars, the greatness and the work of the creator was evident. And, today, science fiction has taken over the cosmos to investigate the dreams of humanity. From antiquity to the present day, exploration through the imagination has allowed us to take a philosophical imagination has allowed us to adopt a philosophical stance and project our fantasies or fears onto their fantasies or fears, be they gods or otherworldly beings, into the sky.
Study subjects: Anthropology, Religion, Literature, History of cinema.
A CALCULATED PERSPECTIVE: Regular, synchronised and repetitive movements
The “movements of the celestial dome” and “the trail path of the Sun in the sky” are a consequence of Earth’s rotation around the king of all stars: the Sun. The study of these movements has been the cornerstone of classical astronomy, one that in its most mathematical expression, would later be referred to as “position astronomy”. This discipline has developed throughout history: from calculating the size of our planet more than two thousand years ago, to centuries after, to be able to precisely determine the dimensions of the solar system.
Study subjects: Mathematics and Fundamental Astronomy.
A CLOSE UP GAZE: Discovering the Solar System
For those stargazers of the past, the stars rotated as if attached to a distant and fixed dome. However, there were certain celestial bodies that shone especially bright and seemed to follow their own path amongst other stars. It was not so long ago
that we gave up regarding these wanderers, these roaming planets as gods. Our space exploration and telescopes continue to reveal their true formations and compositions.
Study subjects: Planetology, Astronomy, Physics, Astronautics.
A RADIANT GAZE: The light that monopolises
The Sun and Moon are the two great sources of illumination that stand out in the sky and monopolize the celestial arc with their light. The Sun, with its own kind of light, reigns the day when it rises above the horizon. The Moon, although a pale reflection in the bright shine of the Sun, rules the night. Then, depending on the time of night and its moment in the month, gives us leave to see the night sky and quantities of stars that inhabit it. Eclipses, the stages of our satellite or the turning of the tide can be justified by the physical relationship between these stars and Earth.
Study subjects: Positional Astronomy, Physics.
A HOPEFUL GAZE: Mapping the sky in search of land
Far from the coastline, the stars act as lighthouses for seafarers and explorers. Earth’s curvature allows us to see the sky differently depending on our location. Partly for this reason, the celestial dome becomes a map, charting where to pinpoint Earth itself. In times gone by, men of the sea were practical creatures who had no fear of the stars, instead they saw them as allies as their knowledge of the sky helped them find their path back home.
Study subjects: Fundamental Astronomy, Astronomical Navigation, Geodesy.
MULTIPLE GAZE: Magnifying and descomposing resolving light
In the same way a magnifying glass draws us closer to the physical existence of a rock or tree bark, the sky has an alternative character when we observe it through a telescope. We observe more and more details as well as discovering hidden corners. The advances made in the development of these instruments have stripped away the celestial perfection and presented us with an alternative reality. In addition, we can see not only visible light, but also the entire range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The marriage of photography and spectroscopy have uncovered new sights which have enriched our knowledge of the Cosmos and led us to reflect on our very existence.
Study subjects: Astrophysics, Chemistry, Technology.
A PENETRATING GAZE: Cosmology
Cosmology is the scientific study of the universe as a single entity, influenced by its age, shape and size. Propelled by great leaps in astronomical instrumentation. Over the last few decades cosmology has developed into a precise science. When we train our eyes on what is distant, we see objects through time. We observe how they were in the past, since their light must traverse the great distances that separate us from them. This has inspired us to form theories related to its birth and evolution, as well as speculate over its future.
Study subjects: Physics, Cosmology.
GAZING IN ANTICIPATION: Observing and listening to the Cosmos in search of life
Earth is our reference point for existence, and we are well aware of how distinctive our planet is from those that we study. Our drive inspires us to share, to seek out our own reflection somewhere in the Cosmos. We listen to and scrutinise space with our radio telescopes with the aim of detecting potential extraterrestrial messages. We also send messages in the hope of answers. Evidently, humankind is not keen on solitude.
Study subjects: Cosmology, Biology, Biochemistry.
A CRITICAL GAZE: Visitors who “overcrowd” the sky and discover the Universe
Humanity first reached space in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik; Earth’s first artificial satellite. Since then, there hasn’t been a pause for breath in satellite launches that orbit Earth with different functions and objectives. Occasionally they can be seen early in the morning or as the sun goes down. In no time at all, thousands of these and their debris have inundated the skies with the threat of escaping their own orbit and obstructing the path of the very telescopes that study the skies. This is the paradox of a complex world!
Study subjects: Astronautics, Technology.
AN ARTIFICIAL GAZE: We lose the sky, but accumulate and share data
It is a paradox, but in our time, the loss of the starry sky is accompanied by the appearance of tools to reproduce the firmament artificially. The 21st century is the century of data. Data is shared on a global scale and floods the web. However, open access to information also generates currents of opinion contrary to science: “flat-earther”, “denialisms” or phenomena such as “fakes news” take advantage of planetary visibility and create confusion.
Study subjects: Computer science, Sociology, Anthropology. Psychology.