So, where can we look to see a sight unchanged from that seen by our ancestors? Well there clearly are still some locations on land and sea but they usually have to be sought out. The most convenient place is actually above our heads! Especially at night. The stars have held a fascination for mankind ever since he first glanced skywards. They offer a unique sight that is available to all without the inconvenience of travel. Or they should. The problem is that light pollution from cities hides all but the brightest stars, the moon and planets, and today it's only in the countryside away from street lighting that we can see the heavens in all their beauty - the odd satellite or aircraft permitting! The International Dark-Sky Association and its affiliated organisations work to return our birthright to us. Interestingly the shape of the constellations has changed slightly since Stone Age man gazed upwards, but essentially, what he saw, we see.
When the builders of our medieval cathedrals came to decide how to finish their ceilings they often painted golden stars on a blue background to represent the night sky or heaven, the destination of believers. As vaulting became more intricate and the short decorative ribs called liernes were introduced, it seemed obvious to make it into a star pattern (called a stellar vault), and symbolise heaven with one beautiful, radiant star. That is what happened to the underside of the crossing tower of Peterborough Cathedral shown in the photograph above.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 14mm (28mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/30
Exposure Compensation: -1.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On