Same Stars, Different Sky

One of the hardest things about leaving Montana was knowing that it was likely I would never see another night sky like the one just outside my front door. Although I never could identify anything other than the big and little dipper I would spend hours watching the night sky. Just last night RangerSir came in and said “I just looked up and saw Orion in the sky.” He was so pleased and I think a little surprised.

Photo by Roberto Nickson from Pexels

The night sky where we lived in Montana was black, not dark blue or navy. Twilight lasted forever, but once it was dark, it was pitch dark. That black sky made the Milky Way stand out and was always easy to see. In a black sky, a person could understand why it was called the Milky Way with the long wide band of stars that created it. One of my favorite things to do was to get up in the middle of the night for every forecasted meteor storm or possible northern lights. I would set my alarm, so I could go outside at the peak hour and watch for meteors streaking across the sky. Even on nights when the forecasted storm was a bust, there were always a few meteors to be found in the night sky of Montana. Set against that black sky everything showed up. It was calming for my soul. It was one of those things that made a person realize how little you are in this universe.

We were aware of the impact of light pollution on star watching and we were sure once we left Montana we would not see many stars at all living near urban centers. What we have pleasantly discovered is there are still stars, but they are set against a blue night sky. The street lights and light coming from distant cities erases the faintest stars in the distance, but the biggest and the brightest still shine here.

When we walk Zip after the sun goes down we always take time to look at the moon and the stars. The stars in the sky remind us we are but a very small piece of the universe, but the very same universe as the rest of you. It is an amazing place and we are all here together. It may seem like it is all very different, but actually it on how we see it that makes it different. I hope the next time you are out at night you take a minute to stop and look up into the sky and see what show nature is giving you.

Missing Montana Night Skies

I have never been able to take great nighttime photos. I sure wish I could have and done so, when we lived in Montana. Because the night skies of Montana are now gone and I really miss them.

As we approach the Perseid meteor shower it makes me think about Montana night skies. When living in Montana, each year we would mark our calendar of all the known meteor showers that we might see and mark our calendar to watch the night skies for a possible show. I remember many nights in Montana where I would lay out on the deck or in the hammock and watch as the moon and stars moved across the night sky as the earth turned. There was no need for the calm app, nature provided for us. I have audio sensitivity with my migraines and could not tolerate the sound of RangerSir breathing and so spent I many a night on the living room couch looking up and out the picture window with ice on my head concentrating on the stars. The winter nights were exceptionally clear, but laying there on the couch in the warm living room was a warm wonderful way to watch the stars and give my mind something to focus on besides the pain. I think about the fall full moons coming up over the Eastern horizon so big and bright, that you could see the outlines of the trees of the mountains on the moon as it rose.

Photo by Timothée Duran on Unsplash

Living now in the city I have come to understand light pollution. Light pollution is something most folks don’t think about because they have no point of reference. They don’t realize that there are a billion stars they are missing and the ambient light of the city prevents them from seeing all that is out there in the skies. They don’t realize that the night sky can really be pitch black. People don’t get to know the darkness of nature, or the brightness of a full moon that casts shadows it is so bright.

I sit on the deck here in the city late at night and look up and see only a few stars. It makes me miss the Big Dark Night Sky of Montana.