Share in the wonder of the Shared Sky exhibition
South Africa will soon be home to one-half of the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The other half will be hosted in Australia, and together this project will probe deeper into the night sky than ever before in an attempt to answer some of the fundamental questions about the universe, and the origins of life. These are questions we have been asking since the dawn of humankind, and the Shared Sky exhibit celebrates this sense of wonder through traditional art.
Every culture around the world has looked up and noticed the rhythms of the sun, the moon and the stars, and seen unusual cosmic events like comets and eclipses, and sought to understand them, and incorporate them into their stories about life, death and whatever follows.
In a way, we still do — albeit with the use of cutting-edge technology and scientific reasoning. This is the motivation behind building the biggest-ever radio telescope, and what it seeks to find will be of benefit to all of humanity.
For these radio telescopes to work, they need to be placed somewhere quiet and undisturbed. Which is why South Africa’s Karoo desert, and Australia’s Murchison area, are ideal. While the technology sits at these two sites, it is looking at the same shared sky.
The first peoples who lived in these areas also looked up at the same sky, and saw the same stars. The Shared Sky exhibition, currently on display at the National Gallery in Cape Town, celebrates the ancient wisdom of the San and Wajarri people through a series of artworks done by artists who descended from those cultures.
Take a look at some of their artwork below:
Shared Sky is an inspiring, must-see exhibition that embodies the spirit of the international science and engineering collaboration that is the SKA project, and a humble reminder that whatever our roots, and wherever we are, we are all trying to make sense of the world around us.
The exhibition has been extended until June 21. Visit the Iziko Museum’s website for more information.