Night Sky

I’m not saying the Stonington is out in the boondocks, but it’s really not close to any big city.  The village itself hugs the coastline, and the views from most places look out over the bay, granite outcroppings, and apparently primeval forest.

So, that means there’s not a Target or Home Depot only a few minutes away, which I guess is an inconvenience of sorts.  But is also means that there isn’t a lot of light at night — which means you can get a new, different perspective on the night sky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the nights when it is clear, I’ve been enjoying sitting outside, staring slack-jawed at the night sky of Stonington.  It’s different from the night sky of Columbus.  Where the night sky in Columbus is a kind of dark gray color, due to the many bright lights on the horizon from downtown buildings and surrounding houses, the color of the night sky in Stonington is deepest ebony — like a shroud of black velvet.  In Columbus, you see a few constellations, like Orion and the Big Dipper, but most of the stars simply aren’t visible due to the light pollution.  In Stonington, where there really isn’t any appreciable light pollution, the stars blaze with a brilliant white color, as if someone is standing with a flashlight behind that black velvet shroud, shining the light directly through pinpricks in the fabric.  Even dimmer stars stand out in sharp relief, and I’ve seen constellations that I haven’t seen since I was up in northern Canada years ago.  I have no idea how many individual stars are visible from our deck, but it’s got to be thousands, if not tens of thousands.  And the blackness feels empty, and limitless.

And the Stonington night sky gives you a fresh appreciation for how the Milky Way got its name, too.  The spread of stars along the band of the Milky Way does look like a river of spilled milk.  Even if you can’t make out individual stars or galaxies, the Milky Way is noticeably lighter than the surrounding, deep-black space.  Looking at the brilliance of the Milky Way, it’s easy to conceptualize our little planet as just one rock at the rim of a great galaxy.

When you gaze at the Stonington night sky, you quickly understand why our human ancestors going back to caveman days were fascinated by the night sky, and the stars.  I may need to get a telescope.

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