Ruff’s childhood interest in astronomy re-emerged in the late 1980s with his Stars series. Having acquired many negatives of the night sky above Chile, from the archives of the European Southern Observatory, he started to print large-scale, and seemingly abstract, photographs of stars, galaxies and nebula. Selecting details from the 29 x 29cm negatives Ruff divided them into six categories, where the stars themselves were either in the foreground, the background or were very remote, or the focus was interstellar objects, the Milky Way or other galaxies. These images present the viewer with a duality – it is obvious what the white dots on a black background are but without expert knowledge, it is impossible to read these as anything other than abstract pattern. Therefore, for the viewer the shift in focus is from the subject matter to the startling beauty and simplicity of the composition.