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Carl Merten

One of eight proposed sculptures for the Constellations of the South monumental sculpture park in Uralla, NSW.

In Sept 2004, the first two sculptures by Carl Merten and Joan Relke were unveiled by astronomer, Fred Watson, Director of the Siding Springs observatory.

Photo by Joan Relke               

The Sculpture



The sculpture by Carl Merten sits on top of a 3-metre high granite boulder which serves as its base. Its 2.5 meter length encloses the stars of Carina, as illustrated in the diagram above, at the times shown below. The sculpture is made from cast aluminium, which can readily be seen at night, as well as by day from the New England Highway, which passes it by. 

Photo by artist


Photo by John Fields



As you pause to look up at this sculpture, you have also entered into a visual dialogue with the absent artist ... something is communicated about the purpose, motivations, aesthetics and creative energy used to express a personal, yet shared vision.

In making this work, I've drawn on astronomy, myths, mathematics, and music.

The initial concept was sparked during lunch with Charles Rudd at the Coachwood and Cedar hotel, Uralla, NSW, reflecting our shared interest and experience of astronomy.

The mythic tale of the Ship Argo features strongly in our Southern night sky. Carina is the main section of the now-dismembered constellation Argo, appealing to my interest in boats and sailing. The other mythic element is contained in the form, reflecting the first Australians' perception of the Milky Way as a cosmic serpent.

Mathematically, we try to unlock the mystery of existence. Measuring vast distances by the speed of light, using the brilliant Canopus to guide our space probes and satellites, we listen to the music of the stars, the hum of the universe, and wonder if we are alone.

This sculpture is created to exercise our awareness. From the Earth underfoot we lift our eyes, our minds, and our souls to contemplate our place in this tiny speck of matter set in the brilliant vista of stars in our galaxy, itself only a fraction of the infinite continuity of deep space.

Carl Merten
1 May 2003


Carina, graced by the presence of the brilliant Canopus, is the main part of the former constellation representing the Argo. Carina is crossed by the Milky Way, and the star Canopus stands out: it is a supergiant, and its spectral class indicates that it should be yellowish, though most people will certainly call it white. Canopus is the furthest star to the right in Carina.

The Ancient Greeks saw Carina as the keel of the Argo, the ship which took Jason and the Argonauts to Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece. At the time of the Ancient Greek civilisation, c500 BCE, the constellation of the Argo sat on the southern horizon as a ship would sit on the sea. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, today this constellation can no longer be seen from the northern hemisphere, and is now one of the southern circumpolar constellations, seen only from the southern hemisphere.

Visible in the southern skies

January 1st 5 am
February 1st 3 am
March 1st 1 am
April 1st 11 pm
May 1st 9 pm
June 1st 7 pm
July not visible
August not visible
September not visible
October not visible
November not visible
December not visible


4/08/09 jr