Reclaiming a right to dark skies

If you look up on any given night in the city, chances are you can count the visible stars on your fingers and toes. Urban lighting has drowned out our view of the stars and the milky way, causing a disconnect between urban-dwelling humans and the night sky.

In this episode we discuss this disconnect and the design solutions cities are implementing to reconnect us with the universe. To get there we start in the Australian desert where stars stretch from one flat horizon to the other streaked by the white mist of the milky way. This is the home of the dark emu which lives in the sky and gives us a valuable example of how connection to the stars can deliver knowledge and new ways of thinking.

Links and references

Jessie Ferrari is an Indigenous person of the Yorta Yorta people, pursuing Ecology at the University of Melbourne. They are currently in the works of writing a paper about Kulin Nation star, plant and animal knowledges and how these knowledge systems overlap, especially in regards to seasonal patterns.

Duane Hamacher, Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the ARC Centre of Excellence in All-Sky Astrophysics in 3-Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) and the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne

How ancient Aboriginal star maps have shaped Australia’s highway network, Robert S. Fuller, The Conversation,  7 April 2016.

Australian Indigenous Astronomy website

Hamacher, D. De Napoli, K. & Mott B. 2020, Whitening the Sky: light pollution as a form of cultural genocide, Journal of Dark Sky Studies, Vol. 1 (in press).

Dark sky park at Warrumbungle National Park, near Coonabarabran in central-western NSW, Australia

International Dark-Sky Association website

Dark Sky Studies Minor at the University of Utah

During a 1994 blackout, L.A. residents called 911 when they saw the Milky Way for the first time,  Stephanie Buck,  Timeline, 16 February 2017.

Siding Spring observatory under threat from coal seam gas light pollution, Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 21 October 2014.

The Australasian Dark Sky Alliance website

Indigenous Astronomy course at University of Melbourne

Where have all the stars gone? TherĂ©sa Jones, Jen Martin, and Marnie Ogg, Pursuit,  19 June 2020.


Hosted by Shelby Bassett

Produced by Kate Murray

Desert at Night sounds by kangaroovindaloo

Stars Twinkling sound by aj_heels

Photo by Trevor McKinnon on Unsplash

Connected Cities acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which this podcast was produced, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, and pays respect to Elders past and present.

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Kate Murray

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