Our Dark Skies Festival podcast is a series of interviews with fascinating people from the worlds of astronomy, psychology, and the arts, in association with The Scotsman.

Listen here or via Apple, Spotify etc, as we reflect on our festival themes of winter, darkness, and the night sky.

“A nourishing way of easing yourself into winter. The tone is low-key and intimate, and Andrew Eaton-Lewis does a great job of asking incisive questions. All listeners need to do is float away in the whirl of romance and science.” The Times


Episode 6 – Catherine Heymans and Joe Zuntz

How do you make astronomy funny? Astrophysicists Catherine Heymans (Scotland’s Astronomer Royal) and Joe Zuntz perform a comedy show together called The Universe: Does Anything Matter?, which opened our fourth Hebridean Dark Skies Festival in February 2022. Here they talk about the evolution of the show, from an impromptu stand-up night at an astronomy conference to the Edinburgh Fringe. They also discuss dark matter maps, the importance of diversity in the astronomy world, and their favourite space jokes.

Episode 7: Roberto Trotta and Laura Cameron-Lewis

Our 2022 festival saw the first ever public performance of The Edge of the Sky | Oir Nan Speur, a unique new theatre show based on a book by award-winning science communicator Roberto Trotta. Here, Roberto and the show’s director Laura Cameron-Lewis discuss everything from ancient storytelling traditions and how language shapes the way we think to interstellar travel, aliens, climate change, dark matter, and the end of the Universe.

The Edge of the Sky is supported by Creative Scotland and Bord na Gaidhlig.

Episode 8: Juliana Capes

What does a sunset mean to you? Sunset Reports, which screened as part of our 2022 festival, is a 52-minute film in which artist Juliana Capes describes an entire sunset, moment by moment. In episode eight of our podcast, Juliana explains how the film was shaped by her work describing art for visually impaired people, but also by grief, her fascination with colour, and a career making work about brief moments in time.


Episode one – Karine Polwart

The acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter, pictured above, has long been fascinated by astronomy. At the 2020 Hebridean Dark Skies Festival she performed The Only Light Was Stars, a ‘work in progress’ version of a new show inspired by supernovas. One year on, we caught up with Karine to talk astronomy, art, UFOs, drunken elks, nuclear power, jam cupboards, and staying creative in lockdown – among other things.

Episode two – Kari Leibowitz

Can ‘wintertime mindset’ strategies help make us happier during the coldest, darkest months of the year? We talk to American health psychologist Kari Leibowitz, above, who has seen a new wave of interest in her work since the COVID-19 lockdown. Kari spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Tromsø, Norway, which is so far north that it experiences a “Polar Night,” the time from November-January when the sun never rises, and has used what she learned there to develop ‘wintertime mindset’ strategies to help people get through the long dark months of winter. As well as looking for a few wintertime mindset tips, we ask Kari what darkness means to her.

Episode three – Renzo Spiteri

Should lockdown encourage us to listen to our immediate surroundings in a new way? Composer and sound artist Renzo Spiteri, above, creates music from field recordings of the landscape near his home on Shetland. Renzo performed his latest project, Stillness, as part of the 2021 Dark Skies Festival. We also commissioned him to create a new sound piece, Under Dark Blue Skies, designed to be listened to in darkness. Here Renzo discusses how island life has inspired his work, and how it found a new resonance in lockdown.

Episode four – Sheona Urquhart

How do you tell stories about cosmic events on an unimaginable scale? We talk to  astronomer Sheona Urquhart, above, whose work in Extragalactic Astrophysics involves studying the evolution of galaxies as well as finding compelling ways to explain her findings to the public. Sheona spent much of her childhood in the north of Scotland gazing at the stars, and describes her first sight of the northern lights as a formative experience. In our podcast she discusses studying distant galaxies from Hawaii, making TV with Brian Cox, and why astronomers often make good musicians. Sheona has family connections on Lewis and is delighted to be ‘coming home’ as part of our festival programme.

Episode five – Bethany Rigby

The Outer Hebrides’ relationship with astronomy, Bethany Rigby says, “embodies humanity’s changing view of our place within the universe”. The designer, researcher and writer, above, is the creator of Outer Hebrides // Outer Space, a research project that explores our islands’ astronomical significance, from the Neolithic Age of celestial observation to present day plans for Spaceport 1, the UK’s first vertical satellite launch site. The project began during An Lanntair’s Island Going residency in June 2019. Bethany also knows some fascinating facts about shooting stars and Scottish place names on Mars.