Sarah Halford

Architecture and Ceramics

you have been watching

A couple of things overlapped this week, which were really interesting to me. Firstly, it was Doors Open Day last weekend. My mam came up for the weekend and we booked on the tour around Old Observatory House, on Calton Hill. The house was designed by James Craig, who I’ve mentioned here before as being the architect notable for laying out Edinburgh’s New Town at the sickeningly precocious age of 27. The observatory is now a delightful holiday home, but was designed to be ‘The People’s Observatory’, before if was found to be far too small and the larger observatory was built next door.

Both are now obsolete, as light pollution is far too strong to observe from Calton Hill. the Royal Observatory of now located on Blackford Hill, away from the city centre.

Secondly, I was invited to a screening of The City Dark, which is a documentary by a former persistent of Maine, who now lives in New York. He speaks to many astronomers and others, looking at our relationship with the night sky. There is even a suggestion that the interruption of our Circadian rhythms due to shift work could be a cause of cancer.

The documentarian also visits Star Village in Arizona, where a crew of dedicated astronomers get images like this

When I would walk home from school I used to enjoy watching Orion, which was the only constellation I knew. I almost don’t believe that the images I saw in the film are real, as I’ve never seen anything like it. The main thrust was that a connection to the night sky is a very primitive and important relationship, that we are losing.

It’s also the reason why the buildings on Calton Hill now need charitable trusts to save them from dereliction.

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This entry was posted on September 30, 2011 by in architecture, edinburgh.
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