Don’t be afraid of the dark: dark night skies and being

Authors: Beer, S. and Light, D.

Editors: Ellis-Hill, C.

Conference: Humanising Care, Health and Well-being Conference

Dates: 13-14 June 2019

Journal: Humanising Care, Health and Well-being Conference: Abstract book

Publisher: Centre for Qualitative Research Bournemouth University

Place of Publication: Bournemouth University


Don’t be afraid of the dark: dark night skies and being

Almost universally cultures are afraid of the dark. Jung might have considered this to be some form of manifestation of an element of a collective unconscious. Darkness is used as a symbol of things that are bad, that are frightening. Truly gazing into the darkness of infinity could be scary. Having said this dark night skies, as a result of the avoidance of light pollution, have been shown to provide environmental benefits, to plant and animal life as well as saving on carbon emissions. They have also been shown to benefit human health and to provide sustainable economic benefits as a result of Dark Sky and Astro Tourism, for when we gaze into dark night skies we see lights in the darkness; the stars. This is central to our understanding of our existence.

The stars form a very important piece of cultural heritage, for multiple cultural communities, over many thousands of years. One of the ‘fantastic’ things about this piece of cultural heritage is that we are seeing things happen now in our time even though they actually occurred a few, hundreds, thousands or millions, of years ago in the place from which the light originates. Light from the star Betelgeuse (part of the constellation Orion) takes 642 years to reach the earth. The Betelgeuse that we are looking at is the Betelgeuse of 642 years ago. The light from the centre of our home Galaxy (the Milky Way) takes 25,000 years to reach us. The light from the next nearest Galaxy (Andromeda) takes 2.5 million years. And here we sit, staring up at the stars.

This paper will explore some of these ideas and particularly focus on understandings of human existence in order to develop a research agenda for a potentially new perspective on human well-being.

Source: Manual