Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Starry, Starry Night

Last week I was down in the Florida Keys [ahhhh, warm!].  A nice break from the, uh, abnormally warm winter we've been having [weather in the 70s is still a lot better than weather with highs in the 50s].  

When I was a child [wait, did we switch topics here?  No, but you'll have to wait to understand the segway.  If anyone understands Segways.  I mean did the inventors really think they're replace cars?  I'm better off on my bike!  Oh, sorry.  Got lost in the stream of consciousness there.]

When I was a child I used to go outside at night and gaze up at the stars.  I lived at the edge of a suburb, near the woods and I could see thousands [tens of thousands?  Hundreds of thousands?  Millions?  I never counted them so lets say] an uncountable number of stars including the horizon to horizon stripe of the Milky Way.

I used to imagine other worlds, adventures in space, what might be out there.

I used to watch for falling stars, comets, Skylab burning up in the atmosphere [we had a small block party for that one].

Then I went off to college, my parents moved to "the Country" and I got distracted by other things.  Things like college.  Boys.  Work.  Boys.

When I went to look at the sky again I was living in a more urban area and the stars were fewer in number.  The curve of the Milky Way had disappeared in the light pollution from the city.

Then I moved to Los Angeles.

Stars?  Those are the famous people you occasionally bump into at the Farmer's Market [Hellllo Newman.  Sorry I stepped on your toes.].

Last time I looked up at the sky from my parents place in "the Country" and all I could see were a few stars and the glow of the nearby cities.

Even my house, in a small town North of Boston, has relatively few stars in the sky.

Back to last week.

The Husband and I went out to dinner at a nice restaurant [Marker 88 - yummy!  They have a lot of new and creative dishes, not the same old same old that you find in every other Keys restaurant].  The restaurant has a pier with a light underneath [the light is actually under the water].  So after dinner I took The Husband to the end of the dock to see if the underwater light had attracted any interesting fish or invertebrates [here, sharky, sharky, sharky].  Lots of fish [no sharks, though].  Then I looked up.

What I saw took my breath away. 


A fine glowing stripe of the Milky Way.

The night sky I've been missing since I was a child.

Here are some pictures I stole from The International Dark Sky Association.  These were taken at the same location by a Todd Carlson [please don't get mad at me for using them here!  I couldn't find contact information to ask for permission and these are the absolute best examples I could find].  One was taken during a "normal" night and one was taken during that massive Eastern North America Power Blackout.  Guess which one was which?


 Sigh.  I really miss stars.

Now is when I should get on my soap box and rant about why dark skies are important for migrating birds, hunting nocturnal animals, how reducing light pollution can reduce air pollution and energy consumption.

But all I can think about is how much I enjoyed the view from the dock down in the Keys.  

And how that view reminded me of the night sky during my childhood.

And how much that view shaped the imagination of my childhood.

Damn I miss the stars.

1 comment:

  1. Oh me too. I loath the muddy awful starless sky where I am living now, and can't wait to move out to somewhere with a little less light pollution.