Last night Debra and I took a rambling road trip up north to try to see The Perseids. After about 45 minutes of trying to find nowhere, I finally pulled off onto the side roads and found a nice dirt driveway to park in. We only spotted two meteors, but there was just so much more to the evening than flaming bits of rock.
In my effort to find a dark location relatively close to downtown, I started taking a critical look at what is known as "light pollution." Sure, I'd seen abnormally bright patches of night sky near sports fields before, and I understand what light pollution is, but it's never really seemed like problem. However, attempting to really see all that can be seen in the night sky suddenly becomes a problem when every couple of miles there's another town, another overly-bright gas station, more billboards, more and more civilization. Making the trip really gave me a reason to appreciate the stars we did manage to see.
And what seeing we did. Even knowing that there was so much to the sky that we were missing, there's something really magical about all the little points of light hanging up there in the blue-black sky. It's easy to get lost in the stars just taking a peek upwards. Staring off into the depths of space is something most city dwellers, and even most suburb dwellers don't get to do very often.
I encourage everyone to go out and appreciate the vast wonders of our night sky. You might suddenly feel a little connection to the grand stories from eons ago. I know I did.