In many senses of the phrase, we are living in dark times. In the United States, a potentially life-on-Earth-changing election takes place. In the UK, Brexit trade deals threaten the health care system and farmers’ livelihoods. Across the world, fires burn and ice melts. Almost in tune with this mood, in the northern hemisphere we enter the darkest period of our annual journey around the sun. Leaves fall and dormice and hedgehogs curl up into balls to survive the winter in hibernation.

Darkness can be a time of anxiety and fear of the unknown. Outside the mind, under the star-studded sky, however, something else is happening: life. In the soil, earthworms emerge above ground to feed. In the air, moths and owls take flight, and in the sea, zooplankton, pursued by a retinue of predators, rise to the surface in the largest migration of animals on the planet.

In this issue of Resurgence & Ecologist we enter this living darkness with a celebration of the night sky. Lynn Houghton meets two scientists collecting data in Svalbard on climate change during the polar night, Matt Gaw warns us why we need to protect darkness from light pollution, and astrophysicist Krystal De Napoli tells us how dark sky constellations have informed Aboriginal astronomical traditions across millennia. We also hear some tips from grower Claire Ratinon on gardening by the moon, and Tiffany Francis-Baker takes us on a night walk.

Elsewhere in this issue, we look at other kinds of light in the darkness. In Keynotes, American civil rights lawyer Valarie Kaur shares how she turned her rage about social injustice into revolutionary love. In the Ecologist section, Emmanuela Shinta tells Zion Lights how the Dayak people are defending their land in Indonesia, and in Arts, Carolyn Mazloomi introduces a group of women who are telling the story of racism in the United States through a powerful medium – quilting. These unsettling artworks are a reminder that, as darkness falls, we lie in beds of our own making.

Darkness is coming, but reaching beyond our own fear, we find life – incredible, beautiful, connected – and most wonderful of all, we are part of it.

Marianne Brown is Editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine.