A celestial scene little changed through two thousand years. Shepherds beneath starlit skies at lambing time. The Star of Bethlehem might have been a comet or a supernova, cosmic and of natural beauty.
Looking up at the night sky in 2021, ‘we could soon see as many satellites as real stars. Disastrous for astronomers’. Says Professor Catherine Heymans, Scotland’s Astronomer Royal.
Disaster: counterfeit stars, space debris and communication satellites’
The Brecon Beacons National Park International Dark Sky Reserve is one of only eighteen in the world. Light pollution is kept to a minimum and the natural darkness of night sky is protected , so we can see the stars . In Hardy’s time much of the population worked on the land and the dark sky experience would have been familiar. Far From The Madding Crowd, far from the light pollution of cities. We might escape light pollution but space debris and communication satellites know no boundaries.
Scotland’s Astronomer Royal, Catherine Heymans, points out that there are satellites monitoring Climate Change, ocean temperatures, and astronomy. It’s the move to a different order of magnitude that should concern us all, says presenter Evan Davies. Space debris is a danger and a problem. Very bright space hardware changes the aesthetic of the night sky. Elon Musk currently has 1,850 satellites with the ambition to reach 42,000. ‘ It’s getting very busy up there.’ Not just Musk but companies wanting to put up communication satellites. Thank Heavens for Professor Haymens who is well-placed to speak on the damage being done to the planet.
Some ten years ago I was camping in Wasdale. There was snow on the ground and the night sky was brilliant with a myriad stars.
Mid-Wales, Tregaron, a bird-watching trip. We walked in the darkness to the local pub. Tregaron bog was frozen and we heard the musical cracking of ice, the hooting of tawny owls in the moonlight. And stars. Heavenly, celestial, cosmic.
The approach to Scout Scar, along the Brigsteer Road, is being wrecked too. All the trees on the south bank of the road have been felled in preparation for Story Homes to build houses at Stainbank Green. All the trees. Why?
Back in 2012 we locals attended consultations regarding housing development. We lodged our objections, in writing. There was no mention that all these trees would go. What no one concedes is that damage to the environment will extend way beyond the footprint of the large housing development itself.