Ancient Skies in Atlas Obscura Gift Guide
Friday December 09, 2016

Ancient Skies in Atlas Obscura Gift Guide

Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees is featured in the 2016 Atlast Obscura Holiday Gift Guide.

Full of millennia-old trees, soaring and stout against backgrounds of moonless nights filled with endless stars, these photos offer some humbling perspective on the vast stretch of time and the universe. Sometimes it’s nice to remember that we are all tiny blips in a much larger world.

View the gift guide here: 2016 Atlast Obscura Holiday Gift Guide


Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees


Photographer Beth Moon revisits the world’s oldest trees in the darkest places on earth, using color photography to capture vibrant nighttime skies

Throughout much of the world, night skies are growing increasingly brighter, but the force that protects the remaining naturally dark sky, unpolluted by artificial light, is the same that saves its ancient trees—isolation. Staking out some of the world’s last dark places, photographer Beth Moon uses a digital camera to reveal constellations, nebulae, and the Milky Way, in rich hues that are often too faint to be seen by the naked eye. As in her acclaimed first volume, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, these magnificent images encounter great arboreal specimens, including baobabs, olive trees, and redwoods, in such places as South Africa, England, and California.

In her artist’s statement, Beth Moon describes the experience of shooting at night in these remote places. An essay by Jana Grcevich, postdoctoral fellow of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, provides the perspective of a scientist racing to study the stars in a world growing increasingly brighter. Clark Strand, the author of Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age, takes a different tack, illuminating the inherent spirituality of trees.

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