The Starry Sky of Mgarr ix-Xini
I have shared with you images of this place before, mostly of its underwater habitat with its myriad creatures, but also of its splendour above water during daylight hours. However, I have long wished to capture and share an image of this site during the darkness of night, when not a single human soul is present – and all that can be heard is the soothing voice of the sea, as its waves roll up the shore and swash under a starlit sky. Alas, sights like these are vanishing fast because of light pollution (you can see it as an orange glow on the horizon); whenever you have the chance to speak up against excessive or badly designed lighting, please do so. Only by ensuring a dark night sky can we continue to enjoy such views and inspire the next generation of astronomers. I’ve told this story before: when I was around six, I happened to look at the night sky (during a short walk with my parents) and witnessed a sky peppered with stars. That incident made me want to learn more about what these twinkling points of light were, and it led me to a career in science. Unfortunately, a child taking that very same walk today would be able to count the number of visible stars on their fingers; hardly an inspirational sight.
Note on the photograph: This image is a single capture, not a composite of separate photographs, and it entailed a fair amount of planning (and a somewhat hairy drive), but it was very much worth the effort). Due to light pollution, the Milky Way itself was not visible by eye, but only became apparent in this photographic exposure. It would indeed be fantastic if we preserved sky darkness to the point where such a sight could be easily enjoyed with the naked eye.