Kirst, this was so well expressed and I appreciate you sharing. African safaris provide us city dwellers with incredible night skies to view, and for the first time I returned from my last trip with a sense of wonderment and of belonging in the universe. I was shown Orian’s Belt and other constellations that became etched in my mind. Here in Northern California, we see different constellations but the Milky Way is a constant, and finally in the mountains earlier this month I was able to watch it unfold in its entirety, one star at a time. I became so lost in its magnificence, I forgot to click my shutter No matter!!
“Look up to the stars and not down at your feet. Try make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist...” – Stephan Hawking
In the world we are living in, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to appreciate and observe the wonder of the night sky. It is something that I can never take for granted working here at Londolozi: being able to marvel at the night sky especially in the shade of darkness with the presence of a new moon.
One of my favorite moments of my day is watching the sunset over the distant Drakensburg Mountains followed by the creeping darkness that fades in, soon engulfing the landscape with flickers of light starting to appear overhead. It’s something I breathe in, as I gaze up and appreciate the captivating night sky as it starts to take shape.
For me, the best time to stargaze is out in the bush during winter, with the clear skies and very little ambient light, it’s hard not to be enchanted by its wonder. As the night sky rolls in after you have been able to observe the natural world on the drive, you can’t help but appreciate the stillness, vastness, and expanse of the natural world above you and around you. If the beauty of the night sky is something that you are in awe of, come visit us next winter to see its magnificence.
As winter comes to an end and summer is fast approaching the night sky has started to transform as the last of the winter night sky begins to dip below the horizon making space for the upcoming constellations of the summer.
As a child, I always remember that feeling of vastness looking up at the sky and still holds true today. I use to play dot-to-dot and try to create animals from the stars while trying to point out any satellites that moved overhead before anyone else. Now, as an adult, I can see the different constellations that fill the night sky with the thread of the Milky Way threading through.
During the lockdown, I was back in Johannesburg and I decided to sit up in our garden on a bench and look up at the night sky and to be honest I longed to be back here in the bush. I missed it, the people, the adventures, the thrill of trying to find an animal, and the excitement of it all. I realised then that the only time I stopped to appreciate the stars was when I was in the bush. It’s a feeling I suppose of awe and contentment – that’s what for me is written in the stars. A feeling of being present, existing in a natural world without having to have explain it all. A feeling of contentment.
I think Stephan Hawking had a point that there is more to life than the reality we face each day. If we look up to the stars I don’t think it holds all the answers but there is a sense of wonder and unknowing which is captivating. Living in this natural world one can never have all the answers and know everything yet we can find in small moments to catch ourselves and for a moment exist in this universe we call home. So for me, it’s written in the stars… A reminder to be present, to catch yourself for a moment and experience the natural world around you, and for that moment. Wonder about what it feels like to exist.
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Thanks Denise, I’m sure that they will be another time!