July 16, 2016

Michael Goh: Communing With The Milky Way


By day, Michael Goh is a bank manager who dispenses loans and advice to business clients of Bankwest. Come sunset, his head's turned to the heavens. Here he is on a sand dune at Nambung National Park, a three-hour drive north of his home in Perth, looking up towards the centre of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. "It's my version of a selfie," laughs the 45-year-old, a father of two teenage girls. 

Amazing to think those photons of light from the galactic centre spent 25,000 years streaking across interstellar space at 300,000km per second before smacking into his camera's sensor during this 25-second exposure. 
Goh is a first-generation Aussie - his Malaysian parents migrated in the '60s to escape ethnic strife in their homeland - and he was a science fiction fan from a young age, growing up with Star Wars and Star Trek. These days, it's science fact that tickles his imagination. For the past six years he's been photographing the night sky.


And the Milky Way itself is only one of at least 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. That's a "humbling and awe-inspiring" thing to contemplate, Goh says; it puts all the problems of the Earth - its wars and woes, its never-ending political crises - into a kind of perspective. 

Let's give the last word to Monty Python's Galaxy Song, sung by that great pub philosopher Eric Idle: So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure / How amazingly unlikely is your birth / And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space /'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.


By Ross Bilton
With many thanks to The Australian