The Night Sky

October 11, 2013

Milky Way

By Koseli. Image from The New Yorker via Kottke.

Sometimes I need to feel small. Like everything about me and my life is just a tiny speck in the grand scheme of the universe and that really, I’m rather insignificant. It’s simultaneously comforting and extremely lonely. Whenever I see stars, a brilliant moon, clouds carrying on as usual, all under the shroud of darkness, it prompts me to this type of thinking. It’s a cathartic experience I crave year-round. Those times are few and far between since we live in New York City and are surrounded by “light pollution” but I spent so many summer nights as a teenager staring at the night sky that I don’t think I can ever forget what it looks like when the sky is covered in twinkling stars. It’s magical.

Have you seen any stunning night skies lately? The other night, every person I followed on Instagram that happened to live in the Bay area shared a picture of the most beautiful sunset. I loved it.

P.S. This photo is of the Milky Way over the New Mexico desert. I have never seen such a brilliant night sky as when I was in the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque two years ago. It was absolutely beautiful. 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy3 October 11, 2013 at 11:28 am

I live in NYC too and it’s a big deal if we see the Big Dipper! On a trip to the Catskills this summer, we totally geeked out on all the stars. Seeing the Milky Way was amazing for my daughter.

I agree with you, though, I’ve never seen more stars than when we visited New Mexico. Absolutely awe-inspiring.

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2 Emily October 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I live in the desert of New Mexico and when I was out walking in the freezing air this morning I looked at the sky with such surprise. I hadn’t noticed the beautiful stars for a long time and it was so beautiful today. I love the sky.

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3 Jenny Bailey October 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I love this. I lived in Vermont when I was younger and my grandparents had a house on Lake Champlain where we used to spend summer weekends. It got SO dark out there, we could see so much and I have always loved that teeny tiny feeling of staring out at all that who-knows-what-ness. It even inspired me to want to study astronomy when I was in high school (until, you know, I saw all the math involved).

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4 1canoe2 October 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I live in Missouri, and even though it’s often shrugged off as nothing too spectacular, the heartland has some spectacular skies! In fact, a girl I work with is currently in the process of moving to a small house in the country for the sole purpose of being able to see sunsets and stars. There’s something very humbling about looking up and seeing nothing but stars.

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5 Mrs. LIAYF October 12, 2013 at 6:17 am

Gaby – Thank you for re-posting the article on light pollution. I commented on your “a few things” post about it, but wanted to also comment here.

We live in an urban area, so rarely have the opportunity to observe the night sky as it should be. However, we are lucky enough that our back yard faces west and looks out over a bay, so it’s a bit darker out there. 10 years ago we had the amazing experience of observing the aurora borealis from our backyard! And, just a couple of years ago, our now 6 year old son could even look out his bedroom window at the stars and moon. To get a truly good view of the stars, we traveled to a distant beach campsite when our son was 4 years old and watching the Pleiades meteor shower – amazing!!

Last year our backyard neighbors installed lights above their garage – they are so bright that when you look out our son’s bedroom window you are nearly blinded. So, he can’t look out his window and the stars and the moon anymore, and our star-watching from the backyard is limited to when our neighbors forget to turn on the light. Even worse, when we visited that beach campsite last year we discovered the campsite had built a restaurant on a hill for the beachgoers – with a blinding parking lot light that flooded the entire campsite (including the field which was best for watching stars). So, no more star watching there either. Sigh.

I wish people would realize the impact these lights have on not only starwatching, but general visibility at night. The blinding garage light does not illuminate – it simply blinds the eye. When you look away, you can’t see anything else because your eyes are so stunned. This is the same about the light at the campsite. A properly projected light would make so much more sense in both locations – especially the distant beach campsite – and would help us remind our kids that there are stars up there!!

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6 dervla @ The Curator October 13, 2013 at 9:58 pm

oooh i miss the stars too… one of the very few downsides to NYC

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7 Siouxzy October 30, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I’ve been meaning to watch the documentary The City Dark. It’s supposed to be really good.

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