梧桐树峡 Sycamore Gap Tree
Stars over Sycamore Gap
The Northern Lights have set the sky alight with color here at the famous Sycamore Gap, in Northumberland. This tree has been keeping a lonely vigil for hundreds of years at the bottom of a steep dip in Hadrian’s Wall, the 73-mile-long fortification built to mark the northwest frontier of the Roman Empire. Silhouetted against the sky, it is said to be the most photographed spot in Northumberland National Park.
This part of Northumberland is also home to Europe’s largest area of the protected night sky and England’s first and largest dark sky park. In February it hosts a dark skies festival, with activities, talks, and an exhibition to entice visitors to venture out after dark. Very low levels of light pollution in this area make it a popular destination with stargazers who can see the Milky Way - and sometimes the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy - with the naked eye on a clear night.
The Northern Lights, a celestial light show caused by charged solar particles hitting Earth’s atmosphere, are a rare treat for the lucky ones here in England's most northerly county. But this iconic sycamore is here in all atmospheric conditions, ready for its close-up.
A symbol of culture and communication
In Arctic Canada, an inukshuk is a monument that is built and placed by the Inuit who were the first people to inhabit the region. It is used as an aid for navigation, hunting tasks and sits as a centre for communication as well. An Inukshuk is made of stacked stones and is an integral part of the Inuit culture. Every stone in the structure has a purpose. It could be a warning of danger, pointing to a fishing spot or even indicating where food is hidden. Since the Inukshuk serves as an important form of communication, destroying one is strictly prohibited in Inuit culture.
The human-like stone figure pictured here is commonly mistaken to be an inukshuk. The Inuit call it inunnquaq, which refers to ‘in the likeness of a human.’ This structure consists of a figure that resembles a human with arms, legs and a head. While it doesn’t necessarily serve the same purpose as the inukshuk, it stands as a popular cultural symbol that was also used as an emblem for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.