Thursday, August 4, 2011

Written in the Stars

Pic via lionking.org

During my senior year of high school, a few friends and I decided to enroll in a one-trimester Astronomy class. I always had an interest in the planets and outer space, so this was a great opportunity to actually learn and identify what I was looking at. Equipped with my planisphere and dad’s binoculars, I had a nightly ritual of standing on my stoop, craning my neck and playing ‘name the constellation.’ Passers-by probably wondered what the hell I was doing, especially when I would actually lay on the pavement after my neck started hurting. (I always got a kick when they nonchalantly looked up to see what I was looking at!) What sucks about living in a big city is that bright lights make star-gazing next to impossible. Sure you can see some of the ‘brighter’ spots in the sky, but getting a true star-gazing experience just won’t happen.

I just came across this fantastic article on msnbc.com which highlights some of the best places to stargaze in the 50 states. And a quick shoutout to Mr. B - I still think of you whenever I see the Summer Triangle!

  • Cherry Springs State Park, Pa.− The 48-acre park, one of just eight International Dark Sky Parks, treats pure darkness the way jewelers treat gems − like it’s something precious. Cherry Springs is situated amidst the 262,000-acre Susquehannock State Forest and features some of the darkest skies on the East Coast.
  • Sky Meadows State Park, Va. − The aptly named Sky Meadows is just an hour’s drive from the nation’s capital and presents a black canvas upon which celestial objects can dazzle.
  • Big Pine Key, Fla. − Night skies here will look alien to most North American terrestrials. It’s the only place in the continental U.S. where stargazers can spy the Southern Cross and other features familiar to equatorial dwellers.
  • Eagle Harbor, Mich. − This Keweenaw Peninsula is just a little lick of land that juts out into Lake Superior towards Canada. The only lights to distract you from mesmerizing auroras and star splashes are on passing freighters.
  • Canyon of the Eagles Lodge and Nature Park, Texas − Home to the Eagle Eye Observatory about an hour north of Austin, the canyon’s a great place for pros and amateurs alike.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah − Stargazing here during a monthly new moon is as close as you’ll get in the continental U.S. to viewing the stars the way the cavemen did.
  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Calif. − The park is 600,000 acres of splendid desolation just two hours east of San Diego. The weather here − moderate temperatures and low humidity − combines with the lack of light to give the skies a truly starring role in evening entertainment.

 

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