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  • Day5

    There Were "Billions of Stars"

    May 5, 2019 in Morocco ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    Those of you who have watched Professor Brian Cox talking about the solar system and the universe on the BBC will understand why I’ve chosen that particular title for this footprint. Okay, it’s not possible for the human eye to actually see that many stars, but when you look skywards from the inky black of a desert night you will believe you see that many. As the night progressed the Milky Way, our galaxy, rose from the horizon to become a magnificent spectacle spanning the entire heavens, its core majestically ablaze with the light from the billions of stars within it. That view, that awesome sight, is the reason I wanted to be here and the opportunity to try to photograph it was simply a bonus.

    The first photo of this footprint, all from my big camera of course, was taken from the campsite looking outwards to the south. The Milky Way is still low in the sky even though it’s not far off midnight, but from this position you also get the tents and the water tower to give a foreground perspective.

    Monique, Nigel and I ventured out from the camp into the dunes where we found the camels resting for the night. I must admit I’d be pretty fed up if my sleep was interrupted by people setting up three legged gadgets, talking while they did that, clipping funny looking things to the three legged things, talking, shining lights and going click every now and then. If it were me I think I’d have engaged full-on spit mode, but they didn’t. No, they remained calm, quiet and tolerant and watched these stupid people sitting in the sand amongst billions of camel droppings, for that’s exactly what we were doing and they were probably creating even more if truth be known. The second photo, then, is of one of those camels in the night and the only camel who chose to remain standing the entire time.

    Photographing a camel, at night, in the pitch dark is not the easiest of tasks on a score of one to ten, with ten being pretty much impossible. This was a ten! Why? Because the camel was alive, not stuffed, so it had a tendency to do what living things do, which is move! The camel’s body stayed remarkably still but its head kept moving, perhaps due to a combination if general inquisitiveness, frequent “tutting” at having its sleep interrupted or maybe an inner turmoil as to whether or not the odd spit, even a small one, would damage the excellent reputation the camels had carefully nurtured in the eyes of these very idiots. Anyway, it’s not the clearest photo in the universe, but this is what I managed to get. The second camel shot worked better because the camels were sitting - you can see that camel in the background still standing up.

    The fourth photo is the Milky Way in all its glory taken around 2am with the final one of this set taken about half an hour later when we got back to the camp. We eventually went to bed around 3am for a hour and a half because we wanted to be up again for sunrise. We should have stayed up however, because when we left our tents at just after 4.30am the predawn light was already bright and we’d missed that special time when darkness gradually fades towards the blue light we’d experienced yesterday evening. Hopefully we’ll get to see a brilliant sunrise.
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