Starry night

Image: Philip Hadland

This dazzling photograph has just been awarded third prize in the Geological Society’s 100 Great Geosites Photo Competition and will feature as the December image in their 2016 calendar. It shows a building close to our hearts, the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough. In fact, the photo was taken by a member of our Earth Collections team, Phil Hadland at the Yorkshire Fossil Festival back in September.

On day 2, after a busy day sharing collections and knowledge with the festival-goers, the cloudless skies revealed a dark starry night. So Phil ventured out to do bit of photography, envisaging a beautiful trail of stars apparently rotating above the Rotunda. Conditions could not have been much better.

Using the Google Sky Map app he found Polaris (also known as the North Star), the star which sailors once used to navigate at night. He carefully positioned his camera and tripod for a 45 minute exposure to capture both the Rotunda and the stars. The image that resulted is spectacular. Phil explains;

Of course it is the rotation of our planet that causes the effect of star trails, but it shows that we are constantly on the move on a tiny speck within the universe, which we call Earth.

The timing of the success is ideal. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of William Smith’s Geological Map, which we are celebrating with our current exhibition Handwritten in Stone. Smith also went on to conceive and design the The Rotunda Museum as the ideal place to display fossils and interpret geology.

Credit: Philip Hadland
Credit: Philip Hadland

Phil is understandably proud of the attention that his photograph has received:

I’m thrilled to be among the winners and it is a great feeling when the effort (which is usually required to take great photos) pays off. It’s also nice to know that so many people will get to see and appreciate the photo over Christmas 2016.

This isn’t the only long exposure image that Phil has created; here you can see a photo of this very museum treated in a similar way. Perhaps a testament to the long-lasting importance of natural history.

Rachel Parle, Interpretation and Education Officer

Published by

More than a Dodo

I'm Public Engagement Manager at Oxford University Museum of Natural History and I look after permanent displays and other interpretation. I do a bit of social media on the side, too.

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