Take An Astro-Tour With Iranian Photographer Babak Tafreshi

Science journalist Babak Tafreshi
Science journalist Babak Tafreshi creates night photography club.

While many people concern themselves with what gas fields “belong” to them, or who really has rights to the Nile River, Babak Tafreshi gazes at the night sky – a wholly more unified place. This perspective has led the young Science Journalist to reflect on the foolishness of divisive earthly institutions, because through his telescope the sky looks the same above every church, every mosque, and every temple.

This is not to belittle those institutions, but rather Mr. Tafreshi would want adherents of different faiths to maintain the overarching principle that we are all family on this one earth, even as they practice their unique daily rituals. In order to inspire such universal thoughtfulness, he founded The World At Night (TWAN), a collection of the most talented night-photographers’ work.

A volunteer organization founded in 2007, and named A Special Project of the International Year of Astronomy in 2009 by The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), TWAN collects and distributes night-time photography and time lapse videos.

These are then shared in photo exhibitions and seminars around the world, on their interactive web site, as well as those of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) affiliates, and they have also produced a documentary film, a book of photographs, and a multimedia DVD of photography all entitled “The World At Night.”

mt.-uludaq-at-nightProfessional night-photographer, Tunc Tezel, showcases this image of Mt. Uludaq in Turkey on “The World At Night”


TWAN also conducts astro-tours in conjunction with AWB, a non-profit organization under which TWAN operates, to sites that are depicted in the photographic collection. These are led by TWAN project leaders and photographers.

The project’s philosophy is eloquently featured on their web site:

TWAN is a bridge between art, humanity, and science. The eternally peaceful sky looks the same above all the landmarks and symbols of different nations and regions, attesting to the truly unified nature of Earth as a planet rather than an amalgam of human-designated territories. Those involved in global programs learn to see humanity as a family living together on a single planet amidst the vast ocean of our Universe. This global perspective motivates us to work for a better, more peaceful planet for all the world’s inhabitants.

According to them, the earth as seen from space demonstrates a world separated into land and sea, rather than Israel and Palestine, Mexico and America, or India and Pakistan, and the night sky is likewise a vast ocean of space. No ownership. No divisions.

“The beauty of brilliant Venus might be seen in Texas just after it is seen by sky gazers in Tehran,” the founders write. The images really do evoke the kind of awe that levitates one out of the earthly realm of separateness, into a swirl of stars and suns, a swirl of togetherness.

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