In 1994 a power outage caused all of Los Angeles to fall into darkness, prompting many residents to call the local authorities to report strange lights in the sky. Instead of alien space ships, the “strange lights” turned out to be the regular-old night sky. Without the obnoxiously bright lights in the way, the sky looked entirely different, simply because it was finally visible.
If you live out in the country, or somewhere street lights don’t exist, you get to see the true beauty of the night sky all of the time. Populated cities basically come with a requirement to keep the lights on at all times, therefore the night sky gets lost.
Star gazing is reserved for desert trips and remotely isolated locations without the burden of bright lights that never go out. This fact of life got photographer Thierry Cohen thinking–could you imagine how brilliant the most popular cities around the world would look if the stars did show themselves?
And so Thierry embraced a new project idea, all in hopes of bringing the beauty of the natural night sky to an urban city near you. These amazing photographs highlight how incredible cities would look if we took the time to turn all of the lights off.
If you live in New York, Paris, Hong Kong–you know one of the cities that never sleeps–your version of the night sky is much different. Sure constant light and 24-hour operations are convenient when late night hunger strikes and your fridge is empty, but while walking to the local market, a glance up towards the sky will prove rather disappointing. Maybe a star or two will glitter back at you, but if every high rise, restaurant, and bar turned off their lights, you would see a whole galaxy glittering like pixie dust overhead.
Using just the right angle and location, Thierry takes photographs of big cities and then turns them into stellar masterpieces by exchanging out the lights below for the natural lights up above. He doesn’t do so carelessly, he tracks exactly where the stars, moon, and galaxy are at the precise moment each photo is captured. Providing realistic images of what these cities would look like cast in complete darkness.
If you have ever been to Hong Kong you know good and well the sky never looks like this–nor do the lights of the city every turn off. In other words, Thierry’s images give us a chance to see something real, but not actually visible–except for maybe once every 100 years when a major power outage strikes.
There are 6,000 or so visible stars that can be seen with the naked eye, most of which circulate around 1,000 light years away from the sun. Many people say that the stars in the sky are already dead, but stars can live for over one-million years, in fact one-thosand years is like the blink-of-an-eye to a star. Meaning many of the stars you wish-upon are very much alive.
The Brooklyn Bridge, NY
Of course, not all of the brilliant stars that make up the night sky are alive. The light from stars takes so long to reach earth, that some unavoidably die and burn out before the light of their legacy reaches you.
The Empire State Building, NY
In general stars sort of blow the whole idea of ‘time’ away. Just like stars, it doesn’t matter when you live or die, your light can live on for many more years to come.
All night the bright lights of these cities make it impossible to see what truly shines above. Thierry’s pictures grant us a unique opportunity to see what otherwise remains invisible.