“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
On Thanksgiving night last November, I sat for hours in a Wisconsin farm field practicing night photography. The conditions weren’t optimal. Although my husband’s family lives in a rural area, there was still some light pollution. I should have stayed out longer for smoother star trails. The next night, a thick bank of clouds made it impossible. Even so, it was a quiet, peaceful time and I enjoyed every minute of being out in the cold, clear winter air. I love the big Midwestern skies, and the enormous birch tree that dominates one corner of the farm field is like an old friend. When I showed my father-in-law the images taken on his own land, he said, “there can’t be that many stars. You added some.”
It’s sad how many people around the world have never seen the Milky Way or a totally star-filled sky due to light pollution and general pollution. I was happy to see a story recently about a different kind of conservation trend that’s finally made its way to the United States: Dark Sky Reserves. The first such gold tier U.S. reserve is in Idaho and it was just announced in December. I look forward to settling in under that diamond-studded Idaho sky this spring or summer.
I hope you can find some dark sky soon as well. Where are your favorite places for night/astro photography?
Whether you use just your eyes or a telescope, there is something truly humbling about seeing planets, the Milky Way, meteors, comets, or even deep sky objects. This experience is something that can easily be taken for granted. New research suggests that light pollution obscures the Milky Way from nearly 8 in every 10 people who live in North America.