Protected Sky above Protected Land

By: Mahdi Zamani


Ghasr-e-Bahram Caravansary, Iran

2009 October


From the photographer: "In this picture the Orion constellation is seen above the entrance of Qasre-Bahram caravansary in a protected national desert park. Qasre-Bahram caravansary is a very old Iranian inn built in the Safaviye ages (1588-1722 AD) and was placed on the ancient silk road. This grand inn was a preserve camping base for Shah Abbas and thus it has a significant royal architecture in its class: it features really high walls and rooftops and one of the very first water coolers in it's basement, which becomes prevalent later in Iranian wasteland regions. In order to preserve the natural heritage left for us in this region, ordinary entrance is banned and thus we are left with a great low light-polluted night sky. Although this region is surrounded by some big cities it provides a magnificent observation site, enabling astronomers to hold 8 national Messier marathons in the caravansary. This picture is taken in mid-October above Qasre Bahram." - Mahdi Zamani (Iran's Starry Nights project)

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