Seeing Stars

The Super Moon is visible tonight. I don’t usually repost a past blog, but I think it’s important that we keep looking up before our civilization’s relentless dazzle obscures the heavens.  The photo below is what I wish I’d seen that week before Christmas, 2010.

Rocky Mountains Indian Peaks Milky Way Rising

I was lucky. The Friday night before Christmas, I saw the Milky Way.

Photographer friends of mine would say I did not really SEE it because of light pollution However, from my son-in-law’s windswept driveway, I was able to see enough of our covering blanket of stars to know it is still twinkling above us.

Two thirds of the population of the western world has never seen the Milky Way. Light pollution is so rampant over the Earth, creeping into the night like a brilliant rash, covering the East and West Coast of America, Europe and parts of South America, that I feel privileged to catch a glimpse of our stars.

From Rick’s desolate yard in rural Colorado, I looked to the northwestern sky, let my eyes adjust (in the dark your pupils open like giant telescopes), and I watched as as a veil of stars rose overhead and twisted down to the southeast horizon. Layers of light pulsed toward me, from the palest  background of the farthest star fields to a lace net of sharp pinpoints of night shine. The beauty is so profound, so unchanging, standing under its arch is a connection with creation. Although the Milky Way’s light was generated billions of years ago and is just now reaching us, it looked the same to primitive man as it does to us now.

The stars steady me.  They appear in their season New Year after New Year. Long after I’m gone some yet-to-be-born woman will stand here, and she’ll be comforted by the stars. She’ll wonder how long the stars have been here and how long they will shine. And, if I could, I’d l tell her they will guard her forever.

 

Photo credit: Striking Photography by Bo Insogna /Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

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Universe Unfurled

METEORMILKYWAY_ROWELL_C600_cropNote: Sorry this is late!

U – The universe is out there. All you have to do is look up.

When I was in CanyonLands on Outward Bound, I saw the Milky Way for the first time. We pounded ten miles a day in full pack (sans weapons), and we were exhausted, hungry and exhilarated. For a pack of wimpy city girls, this was a brutal slog. Somehow, we fumbled through dinner. Food on the course was horrible, but that stripped everything down to basics. No fussing. Just eat, sleep, climb, and laugh, and then do it again for five days.

Luck was on our side, and the weather was good. Mild and dry. Perfect for the show. I crawled into my bag and closed my eyes. Unable to sleep, I lay in the crystalline desert stillness. Finally,  I looked up and the Milky Way’s twin ribbons unfurled from horizon to horizon.

I didn’t sleep after that. If I had been a God-fearing woman, I would have celebrated such amazing beauty with a prayer. Instead, I just gaped until dawn nibbled away the glitter. Nothing, before or since, affected me the same way as that web of stars. It was miraculous, and it was real.

Two-thirds of the population of the western world has never seen the Milky Way. Light pollution is so rampant over the Earth, it creeps into the night like a brilliant rash, covering the East and West Coast of America, Europe and parts of South America. I feel privileged to have glimpsed our stars.

If you have a light free opportunity promise me you’ll look up!stars-th

New Year Milky Way

I was lucky. The Friday night before Christmas, I saw the Milky Way.

Photographer friends of mine would say I did not really SEE it because of light pollution However, from my son-in-law’s windswept driveway, I was able to see enough of our covering blanket of stars to know it is still twinkling above us.

Two thirds of the population of the western world have never seen the Milky Way. Light pollution is so rampant over the Earth, creeping into the night like a brilliant rash, covering the East and West Coast of America, Europe and parts of South America, that I feel privileged to catch a glimpse of our stars.

From Rick’s desolate yard in rural Colorado, I looked to the northwestern sky, let my eyes adjust (in the dark your pupils open like giant telescopes), and I watched as as a veil of stars rose overhead and twisted down to the southeast horizon. Layers of light pulsed toward me, from the palest  background of the farthest star fields to a lace net of sharp pinpoints of night shine. The beauty is so profound, so unchanging, standing under its arch is a connection with creation. Although the Milky Way’s light was generated billions of years ago and is just now reaching us, it looked the same to primitive man as it does to us now.

The stars steady me.  They appear in their season New Year after New Year. Long after I’m gone some yet-to-be-born woman will stand here, and she’ll be comforted by the stars. She’ll wonder how long the stars have been here and how long they will shine. And, if I could, I’d l tell her.

Forever.