Meteorite Craters: Footprints of the Stars

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Photographer Stan Gaz had a boyhood obsession with meteorite craters. He calls them “footprints of the stars,” and when he stands on the edge of them he feels like he’s “standing inside a cathedral.” When he started talking about photographing impact sites from the air, a friend suggested a remote-controlled camera mounted on a helicopter. But Gaz wanted his camera in his hands, and there was only one way to do that: leaning toward an open aircraft door strapped in only by seatbelts. Sites of Impact: Meteorite Craters Around the World (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009) is the result of six years’ worth of crater hunting. The photographs are as fantastical as the stories Gaz shares. In Australia, Aboriginal tribes wove the craters into their creation stories. In Namibia, a famous crater is surrounded by diamond mines. Because of heavy security, Gaz had to shoot from above 10,000 feet, where he struggled for breath and nearly froze. Mostly, Gaz leaves us alone with his photographs of these earth scars and these profound symbols of “simultaneous destruction and creation, death and life, past and future.”