One of the most interesting sights from my bedroom window is the Electrabel Drogenbos cooling tower. Although it looks like something from the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, the internet tells me that it is a steam turbine plant powered by natural gas.
The exterior of the tower is covered by thousands of programmable LCDs that pulse through the night and change their theme with the seasons. The scenes change from falling leaves to snowflakes to flowers, with special days like Valentine’s day celebrated with red pulsing hearts.
People often ask me what I miss about Australia. During these dark winter nights, something I notice myself yearning for is to look up into the sky and see the Milky Way shining down upon me.
Walking through the quiet streets of Canberra, I would spend hours looking into the centre of our galaxy. It was almost impossible to comprehend that each tiny dot was a giant fiery ball of gas, and the light had traveled for tens, hundreds, millions of years to reach us. It reminded me what a small blue sphere the earth was, and often helped put the issues of the day into perspective.
With each passing season, the constellations would once again greet me like old friends returning from a long journey. Comical Orion, standing on his head while watching Sirius chase Lepus. Antares, the angry red eye of Scorpio blazing beneath a curled tail ready to strike. And always the Southern Cross, lighting the way and giving direction.
There is no wonder that only countries from the Southern Hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tokelau) feature constellations on their flags. In Europe, the stars are seldom glimpsed, and when they are, it is a view out into the dark emptiness beyond our own galaxy, so unlike the brilliant splash of light of the Milky Way.
Two Australian scientists who emigrated to Belgium, and are enjoying the charms and challenges of living in Europe. We were joined in our adventures by our kittens Pepper and Mint in 2009, followed by our son Hayden in 2011. Most of the time, Adrian takes the photos and Lydia writes the words. Adrian's blog can be found here. We can be contacted at