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by Evangelia Ntormousi

Darkness in the open air.  
When all things familiar are invisible and forgotten, how do you keep your eyes from the brilliant sky above?
You stare in awe. Thousands of stars surround you, ancient, intangible, light from a world
far beyond anything your senses were built for.  
In the darkness, your dreams come alive.  

The dreaming first took the form of stories.  
The dark patches against the brilliant center of the Galaxy, in the Andes became a lama
who, tired from the journey, drifted down to drink water from the crystal lakes of the high plateau.
In Australia, no! This was an Emu who, after her long flight, landed here to lay her eggs.
In ancient Babylonia lines were stitched on the firmament to connect the stars,
shaping them into heroes, gods, animals and objects.
Constellations, you know these are named now.  
In modern Astronomy, when you try to give the
sky borders, like you do on Earth, that's what you call them.

What are these stories, if not the ghosts of the day following you into the night?
All that which was hidden away, the familiar, the explicable, you could not forget:
you carried it and gave it new life in your marvelous, unknown darkness.
It was not really that those clouds looked like an Emu, or a lama, was it?
And you have to admit, the Big Dipper doesn't look like a dipper (or a carriage) all that much.
It was all an attempt to make sense of the unexplored, the inexplicable.

What about the science, you'll say?  This went further than the stories!
It did.  You measure now.  You dream in numbers, in models and in maps.
The mysteries unfold, one after the other: the Universe started from an explosion,
gravity made the stars, and the stars made you.  Nothing earthly was involved.
Once you brought your gods onto the sky, now you bring your ideas.
It makes you wish the Earth would mirror the skies back, borderless,
eternal, transcending, so that the darkness would not need the ghosts of the day anymore.

Why just wish it?  Why not build a constellation right here?  
One that will remind you that you were never alone in your dreams, a constellation of people.  
Inside it, like stars, their minds will shine from far apart, but you will draw lines to connect them.
This time there will be no borders.
People will share their ideas, and their stories, and their science.  Their light.

So you did. It starts here: www.constellationproject.org

###

 
Evangelia Ntormousi is a post-doctoral researcher in Astrophysics at CEA-Saclay near Paris.  She received her PhD from the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich in 2012. Since 2014 she has been actively involved in GalileoMobile, a non-profit science outreach programme.

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