Starry night

A stunning and magnificent view while crossing the sea in darkness

Star filled night along the white sandy shore of Brother Island

Star filled night along the white sandy shore of Brother Island

The sea was calm as the outrigger boat’s inconsiderate roaring of its motor broke the stillness of the hour as I was in transit from Brother Island, where I stayed for four nights, to Dipnay in San Fernando, a barrio of El Nido in Palawan Island, at 0430H. While traveling in near total darkness, I gazed up the night sky and was just stunned at what I saw: the universe was spread out in a breathtaking stellar show!

For the longest time that I can remember, I have never seen the night sky as beautiful as this. The northeastern side of El Nido, where I was, is not as popular as at the town proper and the small barangays that sparsely dot the coastline only have house lights for illumination. There was no light pollution from other sources and the sky was putting up an amazing show.

The stars, in different intensities, colors and sizes were in full force. The Milky Way stretched from one part of the horizon to another. I can still recognize a few constellations that I’ve learned 25 years ago during my high school days when I woke up in the middle of the night just to study these. And I think I still know some of them.

Orion was still holding his bow as it was dipping to the western horizon, running, just as Scorpio rose from the east. The twins Pollux and Castor in Gemini were still bright as usual. The Big Dipper in Ursa Major was in the act of scooping out water from the sea. Sirius in Canis Major was still a stunner. Corvus, the raven was still inflight. The planet Jupiter was leading constellation Leo and I can still make out the Crux Australis, the Southern Cross.

There were slow moving satellites orbiting as well as airplanes passing by. Occasional shooting stars, alas, too fast, too soon, expunged out of the heavens as it entered earth’s atmosphere. House lights from the distance, because of the atmosphere, seemed to twinkle and looked like stars that have fallen from the sky.

I was already nearing Dipnay and the sea was so calm that for a moment, the stars above were faintly reflected into the sea, a great mirror, until ripples broke the stillness. As the boat was heading to shore, a waxing moon rose from the horizon, only to be overshadowed by the breaking dawn.

It was such a magical boat ride across the sea under a dazzling blanket of a star filled sky. The universe was dancing.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

3 Comments

  1. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    December 23, 2014 @ 21:04

    A stunning and magnificent view while crossing the sea in darkness: Star filled night along the white sandy sh… http://t.co/cVrB7sSnv3

  2. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    December 24, 2014 @ 15:42

    A stunning and magnificent view while crossing the sea in darkness http://t.co/maCDktkFgm #elnido #palawan

  3. Jem
    December 31, 2014 @ 21:57

    Hi Estan,

    Wow! That is so amazing! Palawan is my home and everytime I see fellow travel bloggers visiting it I get so jealous. Anyways, I really love your starry night photo. Base on your description, I think I had a similar experience when I was volunteering in Buguias, Benget. In the still, cold night of December when the moon was out, the stars shone at their brightest.

    Please do let me know when you get a chance to photograph the night sky when you visit the Mountain Provinces.

    Cheers,
    Jem

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