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Darkness, an endangered species
Posted on: Sunday, February 19, 2017 Category: Cultures

Darkness on the South Downs. Owls hoot and boy-racers accelerate along distant B-roads. But just how dark is it? To find out Dan Oakley points a 'sky quality meter' at the stars. This, he explains, measures sky brightness in 'magnitudes per square arcsecond'. The read-out clicks beyond 20 - which is good apparently, but means nothing to me. Luckily Dan has another test: 'Can you see the Orion nebula?'

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TE Lawrence in Jordan
Posted on: Sunday, October 23, 2016 Category: Cultures

In Jordan history lies in ambush, like Lawrence of Arabia on the Hejaz Railway. Everything is quiet in the hot, shimmering desert - and then, out of nowhere, the plume of smoke, the derailed train.

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Deep in O'Keeffe country
Posted on: Friday, July 22, 2016 Category: Cultures

In the badlands of northern New Mexico, deep in America's Southwest, you stock up when you can. An hour north of Santa Fe on US Highway 84 there's a filling station, general store and diner called Bode's that sells everything from raccoon traps to pickling jars and claims to have served 'travelers, hunters, pilgrims, stray artists and bandits since 1893.' One of the 'stray artists' was that giant of Modernist painting, Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived a short distance away and came here to 'gas up' on her forays into the transcendant desert landscapes she called 'the Far Away'.

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