Winter is upon us. There’s frost in the morning, the light is a soft blue in the daytime. In the evening, the moon shines hard and white. If you are lucky (and live somewhere in the wilds), on a clear night you can see the stars. One of the highlights of my year so far was to see the Milky Way. I was lying on a sunlounger at midnight in the middle of the Dorset countryside looking up at the constellations and trying to remember their names. It really got me thinking about a map of the stars.
Man has documented the stars since the stone age but the age of the enlightenment saw a boom in astronomy maps. I love how the traditional constellation forms were described through illustration – no cold Scientific digital maps here.
A Map of the Winter Constellations in the Northern Hemisphere (or Winter Star Map for short) is a circular map on midnight blue mount board. It’s drawn in white ink and the original has been handfinished with genuine silver leaf to pick out the stars themselves (NB : the prints available are simple blue and white). The notes tell some of the legends behind the constellations which vary from culture to culture. What we see as the Great Bear can be understood as a wagon, a skunk, a canoe, a camel, a shark and even a coffin by other peoples for example. Other notations include folk beliefs associated with the constellations and interesting facts about the history of astronomy and contemporary astronomical thinking. Belief and the idea of the ‘fact’ is constantly changing as time gallops forward.
Giclee prints can be bought exclusively from ONCA Gallery in Brighton in person or online for £65.00. They’re printed in archival ink on heavyweight paper and measure 40x40cms unframed, meaning they can fit into a standard off the shelf frame easily.
I’m pretty sure they’d make a great wintery Christmas present for someone forever wondering about the stars and the legends behind them.