GAZING is a series of stories and stargazing moments we shared over the summer months. It’s about looking up and out, to the stars, the Moon, perhaps even into the future…
It’s a little look into how and why across time and cultures, people have found many ways to make connections between life on Earth and the possibilities of the Night Sky, sharing stories which mark the changing seasons, providing orientation and inspiration.
These short episodes invite you to explore our place in the Universe creatively, as humans have done for centuries, making connections between life on Earth and the infinite possibilities of the Night Sky.
Our GAZING journey was launched with a story from Giovanna Conforto, recorded in Italy, musing on the possible beginnings of human relationships between stories and stars and ended with a livestream event with Tim Ralphs, sharing stories so old the skies have shifted since human beings first told them as we may all look a little differently at the shared Earth beneath our feet.
GAZING - until next time...
Our choicest moments from the GAZING series!
The GAZING playlist
Enjoy our specially selected tunes to enjoy alongside our GAZING series!
The Beginning of Star Stories
Have you ever wondered how and why people started telling stories about the stars? Italian storyteller, Giovanna Conforto launches GAZING with how the mythology around the Night Sky came into being. Plus a story from the Dibabawon indigenous community in Davao about the Sun and Moon Giovanna was told by Richard Dian Vilar, a storyteller from the Philippines.
Storyteller: Giovanna Conforto
Animation: Billy Partridge
The Sea Goat
Derbyshire based storyteller, Rachel Murray tells the captivating story behind Capricornus at the StarDisc, Wirksworth’s celestial amphitheatre.
Storyteller: Rachel Murray
Filmed by Gavin Repton
Friendly and Constant Stars
Space writer and Royal Astronomical Society Fellow, Nick Spall offers a fascinating introduction to the Night Sky and what to look out for over the summer. He also discusses how over time, people have used the stars and constellations to find their place in the world both literally and in their own lives.
Nick Spall, Space Writer
Film made by Gavin Repton
The Summer Triangle
The Summer Triangle is made up of three bright stars, Vega, Deneb and Altair and can be seen throughout the summer, marking the constellations of the summer months. Here storyteller, Maria Whatton, tells the story of three birds, the Swan, the Eagle and the Vulture and what happened when they tried to be the first to reach the Sun.
Storyteller Peter Chand shares a story from India. Enjoy a tale full of stars, planets and Devas develops as Chandra, the God of the Moon, emerges from a sea of milk. Plus our top tips on which planets are best to see over the summer months – you’d be amazed at what you can look up and see in the Night Sky with the naked eye or a good pair of binoculars!
Storyteller: Peter Chand
Animation: Billy Partridge
Dianna’s Story is written and narrated by Emma, one of the longstanding members of our Stars and Stories and now, Moon Stories projects working with young people in care and care leavers.
Emma has worked with professional storytellers and astronomers to write this story about a young girl and her search for her parents, which takes her across stepping stones and onto the surface of the Moon.
Written & narrated by Emma White
Illustration of Dianna by Eleanor
Perseids Meteor Shower
The Perseids Meteor Shower is one of the most dramatic things to see in the Night Sky between July and August and the very best time to see it is at it peaks on the 12 & 13 August.
This meteor shower appears to originate from the constellation of Perseus and so we have asked storyteller, Maria Whatton to share a story about Perseus with us…
Storyteller Maria Whatton
Illustration by Billy Partridge
The Moon's Wedding Dress
On the week of the 17 August, we can ‘see’ the only Black Moon of 2020 – this means you can’t see the Moon or its light but the Milky Way and individual stars are very much more visible! Rachel Murray shares a story about the Sun and the Moon and a most spectacular wedding dress, this story was filmed against the wonderful backdrop of the Wirksworth StarDisc.
Storyteller Rachel Murray
Filmed by Gavin Repton
Under the Southern Cross
Anne E Stewart, from Daylesford, Victoria, an Australian goldrush town in the 1850s, reflects on the significance of constellations to the continent’s recent and older histories – from Bunjil the eagle’s connection with Jupiter, to stories of the creation and planting of flags, stories told by the over 400 Aboriginal Nations living on Australia for thousands of years to stories of gold miners fighting for liberty together under the stars of the Southern Cross.
Lights in the Night Sky
From the International Space Station to Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites, space writer and Royal Astronomical Society Fellow, Nick Spall talks about the new and strange lights you can now see up in the Night Sky since the first ‘alien’ object was launched – the Russian Sputnik 1 in 1957.
Visuals by Patrick Dunn
Apollo’s photos of the Earth: the environmental legacy
When the the crew member of Apollo 8, William Anders took the coloured ‘Earthrise’ photo of Earth with a Haselbad camera in 1968, it was the first time the world fully appreciated what it meant to see their planet from a quarter of a million miles away!
RAS Fellow and Space Writer, Nick Spall talks about how this defining moment had a part to play in mobilising the environmental movement.
Images courtesy NASA; Earthrise taken aboard Apollo 8 by Bill Anders; Apollo 17: Blue Marble taken by the crew of the final Apollo mission
Although space and science fiction are sometimes imagined as male domains, there are many untold stories about women in space. Dazzling storyteller Xanthe Gresham-Knight invites us to imagine space from the beginning, to the end of time as teeming with goddesses, including the Aztec goddess of outer space, Tzitzimitl, and her encounters with deities who move between space and the earth, Quetzalcoatl and Mayahuel.
Images reproduced from the book Goddesses and Heroines: Women of Myth and Legend
By Xanthe Gresham-Knight
Illustrated by Alice Pattullo
With kind permission of Thames & Hudson
Clare Murphy interviews NASA's Liz Landau
Continuing our Gazing journeys into the present and mind-blowing future reality of space exploration, Liz Landau, an award winning science communicator and Senior Communications Specialist at NASA headquarters, joins storyteller and life long science fiend, Clare Murphy for a creative conversation. This is a slightly longer moment for our Gazing series!
T' First 'Un
If you have always believed that Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the surface of the Moon, it’s time to think again….
We were thrilled to receive this wonderful piece from award-winning playwright, Tony Jones and Derbyshire actor, Sue Watts, which they sent to us in response to the GAZING series and our Derbyshire Moon Stories project. It’s by turns equally charming and funny and certainly one to enjoy!
One Night in Paradise
Many folktales describe thresholds between worlds, spaces of transition between here, and there, or even who we are here in the here and now and elsewhere, how things may look quite different viewed from another perspective.
In tonight’s GAZING, storyteller Jan Blake shares a story of two friends, two worlds and the intoxicating temptation to look beyond the here and now. Exploring love, friendship, loyalty and death, this moment of Gazing offers a different perspective on the future, encouraging us to embrace the possibilities of the present. If you listen carefully, you may even notice an intervention from a conversation of the future making an appearance…
Navigating by the Stars
Adverse Camber’s Engagement Associate, Jan Reynolds shares her memories of her father teaching her about how, as a sailor in the Merchant Navy, he learned to navigate by the stars. Jan talks about how these moments in her life left her with a lasting fascination with the Night Sky and taught her that the stars are always there, even if you can’t see them, as a constant in your life.
The Buried Moon
For the last in our series of pre-recorded films for GAZING, we return to the theme of our Moon, so present and yet always changing in our night skies and so resonant across myths, legend, folklore and all manners of story across the world.
In The Buried Moon, storyteller Tim Ralphs, brings us a tale from the Lincolnshire Fens and Carlands, of a time the Moon went walking on the Earth, and fell victim to cruel and monstrous denizens of the dark. This is a story that has intrigued folklorists and casual listeners alike, with its haunting images and eerie tone.
So, sit back and enjoy a beautifully told tale as a fitting conclusion for our GAZING series.