Guest Blog: Introducing the StarDisc

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This blog was written by Judith Irons, a StarDisc trustee in Central England with a love for art and science. Judith says her wonderful Grandad showed her the beauty of the stars and she has since found she's been happiest underneath the night sky. Through her quest for sharing art and the beauty of the Universe, Judith found StarDisc through a chance meeting with the creator, Aidan Shingler, and knew instantly it was a special place.

An image of the StarDisc at sunset // provided by Judith Irons

StarDisc is a 21st century stone circle and celestial amphitheater located in Wirksworth, Derbyshire Dales, UK. It was created by artist Aidan Shingler and unveiled in September 2011. It is a highly valued community asset that has attracted tens of thousands of visitors and staged numerous exciting events.

Carved into the black granite of the 12 meter (40 ft.) StarDisc is a star chart that mirrors the northern hemisphere’s night sky. The surface of the stone circle is inscribed with the constellations, their names, and a depiction of the Milky Way. Contrasting with the star chart is a perimeter of silver granite where 12 seats, which denote the months of the year, are positioned.

It took six years from conception to completion and had more than 1,000 well-wishers attended the opening celebrations, which included an under the stars screening of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and a specially recorded message from esteemed amateur astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.

Since its unveiling, StarDisc has attracted more than 80,000 visitors per year and delivered wide ranging benefits to the local community, schools, businesses, audience goers, and astronomy and outdoor groups.

Events, performances, and activities staged at StarDisc engage people in learning about the stars. Gatherings to watch astronomical events are popular, with local astronomy groups on hand to engage with people of all ages and levels of interest in our universe.

A close up image of the StarDisc and the constellations carved into it. // provided by Judith Irons

The next stage - The StarDisc Array

The StarDisc Trust now aspires to establish The StarDisc Array, a network of StarDiscs across the United Kingdom, replicating the success of the first one in the Midlands. The StarDisc Array will form a series of visionary interactive public art installations and will deliver significant social, economic, and community benefits.

The StarDisc legacy

Each StarDisc site will be linked via a route to create the Star Seekers Way. This stellar trail will help develop astro-tourism by encouraging visitors to embark upon a journey of discovery and adventure to each StarDisc.

The StarDisc Array and Star Seekers Way will contribute to our creative and artistic heritage, and leave an enduring cultural legacy for the nations.

The Trust is looking for new communities who would like a StarDisc. The trust will be going on the road to meet interested communities and scope out locations and people with the desire to take this project on for their own community.

In order to fund the roadshow, the StarDisc Trust has launched a crowdfunding campaign. Individuals, groups, or businesses can either donate or “buy” a beautiful print of one of five photographs of the original StarDisc, taken by respected local photographers and mounted on ab black or silver display.

An aerial shot of the StarDisc // provided by Judith Irons

When the goal has been reached, the Trust will arrange to meet with communities who have displayed an interest in building a StarDisc in their area.

You can find out more about StarDisc on the website, Facebook, and Twitter. Donations can be placed and prints can be ordered here

If you are interested in locating a StarDisc in your community or you have any ideas about the establishment of the StarDisc Array, then we would love to hear from you! Please contact us at info@stardisc.org.

StarDisc is a place that gives the time and space for individuals to explore their own connection to the Universe and to each other in their own unique way through whichever means resonates with them.

Whether it be through the beauty of the art in it's place, by the education of the night sky it provides, the inspiration of the performances that are held there, the engineering challenges of installing something like this, or the opportunity to break down barriers within groups and teams to reach a deeper connection or moment of inspiration and innovation. I have since seen similar effects on others at StarDisc events such as meteor watching to music, marriages, school poetry, and music evenings and informal gatherings of friends and their telescopes. I was delighted to be asked to become a Trustee of the StarDisc Trust and I am passionate about helping to bring StarDisc to more communities.


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