Behind the Piece - Dark Sky Reserve

I am back again and yes, another month has passed! Can you believe the summer is almost over?
This month’s featured painting is titled, Dark Sky Reserve. This piece is part of a six painting series that I created in 2021 honoring my travels. The series is titled Wanderlust.
I created paintings in tribute to some of my favorite places that I visited. The Dark Sky Reserve is a very special place on the south island of New Zealand. As I have mentioned before, I have always been fascinated by outer space. The reserve is devoted to the viewing of the night skies and for miles around it, man made lights are not allowed.  My wife Mary and I booked a visit to the reserve months in advance of our trip to New Zealand. Wouldn’t you know it, it rained most of that particular day. Unfortunately, if we weren’t able to visit the reserve on the day that we booked it, we would not be able to reschedule.
It had stopped raining later in the day, and when we first arrived to check in at the reserve, it was still pretty cloudy. The folks that checked us in told us that if the clouds didn’t clear before dark, we would need to go to their planetarium to view a prerecorded version of what we had hoped to observe live.
Just before our scheduled viewing, the clouds magically cleared and we were able to take in the night skies in a way that I had never been able to do before. The guides drove us to the observation area in a totally blacked out van. We couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. This was designed to allow our eyes to adjust to the blackness.  When we stepped outside the van and looked up it was truly amazing. I have never seen so many stars in my life! You could easily make out the milky way. We were then provided with telescopes to do some deep star gazing. I was completely awestruck.
Did you know that  the center of the Milky Way is 27,700 light years away from Earth and one light year = 5.9 trillion miles?! That really puts our existence into perspective.
So, as you can imagine, this incredible and unique experience motivated me to create this painting.
Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend,
If you are interested in learning more about the Dark Sky reserve, here is more information from their website:
The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is comprised of Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin of New Zealand’s South island. Outdoor lighting controls were first put into place in the area during the early 1980s. They have not only helped minimize light pollution for the nearby Mt. John Observatory, but also conserve energy, protect wildlife and make the area a popular stargazing destination for tourists.
The natural night has played a critical role in the areaʼs history as its first residents, the Māori, not only used the night sky to navigate to the island but also integrated astronomy and star lore into their culture and daily lives. The reserve seeks to honor that history by keeping the night sky a protected and integral part of the areaʼs natural and cultural landscape. It is a perfect place to protect and honor those traditions as the reserveʼs Mackenzie Basin has the clearest, darkest and the most spectacular night sky in New Zealand.
You can visit their website here: