A short video production I came across this past weekend ended up having an impact on me, which I never expected. The night sky UHD timelapse “Above Kissamos” film by The MultiMaker on May 1st, is epic in a way only people who have studied Crete island will understand.
When filmmaker Menelaos Papadimitrakis went to the port in Kissamos to set up a series of cameras for the timelapse shoot, I now wonder if he realized what he was capturing? A technology guru, Menelaos lives in Kissamos, in the far west of Crete island, and works with computer pro. His interest in the sky on this night was more technical than ethereal, I guess. The fact that the famous SpaceX Starling satellites were easily visible in late April and early May prompted the techie/photographer’s mobilization.
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” – Psalm 147:3-5
Starlink satellites, for those unfamiliar, are very controversial SpaceX orbitals launched by Elon Musk in order to create internet access to everywhere on the planet. Ultimately, Musk plans for a massive constellation of some 42,000 such satellites. Astronomers say Musk is ruining Earthbound astronomy because of the brightness and number of satellites creating what’s known as “Starlink trains” trailing across the night sky in one of Crete’s most out of the way places.
Kissamos, which has a rich history dating from Minoan times when nearby Polyrrhenia began to thrive, has Roman and Venetian influences still, and is located on a fantastic gulf of the same name, which is surrounded by mountainous terrain. What makes the town most unique is the geography of the place, and especially the solitude the whole area invokes. Most visitors these days associate Kissamos with nearby Balos Lagoon, one of the most famous beaches in the world. The images I have shared capture, I hope, what I am driving at.
The flashes of Starlink satellites Menelaos captured are insignificant when compared to the deep dimensions of space carpeted by layer on layer of red giants, blue dwarfs, and nebulae you can witness above the natural majesty of Crete. I love technology too, but the fabric of God’s magnificent creation, the universe we are part of, is so far above Elon Musk and gadgets, I cannot even express it.
“There us a kind of flame in Crete – let us call it “soul” – something more powerful than either life or death. There is pride, obstinacy, valor, and together with these something else inexpressible and imponderable, something which makes you rejoice that you are a human being, and at the same time tremble.” – Nikos Kazantsakis from Report to Greco
As the psalm says, his creation is beyond our comprehension. But somehow, a short glimpse of the unimaginable is cause for faith in trying times, and gratitude when the sea off Kissamos is calm. We are fascinated, too often, with our own minuscule contributions.
Elon Musk building thousands of satellites and flying them over Earth, is only humanity doing as we always have, stretching our wanting hands toward the face of the eternal creator. A hundred billion worlds probably look up as we do. But all I can think of seeing this, is to wonder how anyone could deny the obvious.
Crete, the land known to the ancients as Keftiu, is truly the pillar that holds up the sky. Here, a man can breathe the divine air, and finally, gain a footing where once he stumbled.
“If he commands it, the sun won’t rise and the stars won’t shine. He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.” – Job 9:7-10