Posted by: Banta | November 3, 2015

All the sky we do not see

Star Trails. Joye Arden Durham.

When gifted professional photographer Joye Ardyn Durham, owner of Gingko Tree Gallery in Black Mountain, NC, admired the view from our deck and asked if we’d like a “star trails” picture, the answer was a resounding YES. Only then did we ask, “What’s a star trail?”

A star trail is a photographic rendering of the stars’ path across the night sky. Here’s how it worked. Joye arrived at dusk with her camera and tripod, attached the tripod to the deck railing with a bungee cord, set the camera’s timer to shoot a photo every minute or so throughout the night, then collected the camera in the morning and magically merged several hundred photos into one stunning image. Voila!

The shimmery white lines in Joye’s photo appear to document the movement of millions of stars streaking across the sky while we slept. Awake, we can nearly always find the Big and Little Dippers, Orion, and a smattering of other constellations and planets on the celestial stage. Seasons change and the stars seem to shift their positions on the stage. But the larger truth is that we are the ones in motion.

The Earth spins at a dizzying 1000 miles per hour. The only reason we’re not thrown off into space from the sheer velocity of the spinning is that we humans (along with everything else on the planet) are moving at precisely the same speed. While the science is way above my pay grade, I think of the spinning as a metaphor for our amped-up, digitally-driven, moving-too-fast life. Small wonder that the practice of stillness is so illusive, the gifts of focus and presence so extraordinary.

If I hiked to the top of Max Patch Bald tomorrow and lay all night in the meadow there, eyes wide open, what more might I see of the sky? In the pitch dark of a mountain top, miles from the nearest town, that sky is the main event. Yet we’ve seen so little of it in our lifetimes. To see more sky, we must look up from what we are doing, focus our gaze, be present in the moment. If we become more conscious travelers on our spinning earth, perhaps we, too, might one day leave star trails in our wake.


  1. Beautiful, Banta!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. May it be so that we all move to greater consciousness. May it be so.

    Thank you.

  3. always something thoughtful
    have missed your posts

    am not sure i am mindful but this fall in new jersey
    has been beyond beautiful.leaves and weather

  4. Very nice Banta. Thank you. Giving images to thought, nice indeed.

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