The Night Sky

I don’t like staying up late at night. When you get up as early in the morning as I do, you learn to go to bed early in order to get some sleep. Besides, it’s been rather cold recently, which gives me another convenient excuse not to go outside at night. Why go outside when I can curl up inside my warm bed instead?

As understandable as my desire to get to bed early is, I realize I’ve been missing out. Not on the party scene or the night life. My town doesn’t have much of either due to its small size and I’m not particularly interested in that stuff anyway, fun though it may be for some people.

You see, we’ve been having clear nights recently, with not a cloud in the sky to obscure the blanket of stars and constellations that show up every night out here. Because I don’t live in a big city, light pollution is rarely a problem. If I want, I could go outside every night and get a full view of the night sky, which I realize is not something everyone is privy to.

When I look at the night sky, I only think about how vast it is. I feel that way sometimes about the sky during the day, but that feeling is multiplied at night. I’m not sure why. Maybe its because the night sky has more things in it than the day sky. During the day, the sun is usually only thing in the sky, unless it happens to be a cloudy day or someone is flying a plane or helicopter.

At night, however, I can see hundreds of stars and the moon (and there are much, much, much more I can’t even see, if Wikipedia is correct about the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy). It’s like the sky we see during the day is merely a cover hiding the true sky. I wish I knew more about astronomy so I could identify the various stars and constellations I see. Even without knowing their names, however, I am still awed by what I see whenever I look up into the night sky.

And it’s that sense of awe that I realize I am missing out on when I go to bed early. This awe is what keeps me humble, helps me look at the world differently. It reminds me of the immensity of the universe and not to get too caught up in my own problems, worries, and fears. Considering I am a huge worrywart, this is probably something I need to do more often.

Maybe I could get a book on astronomy and spend some nights out there identifying stars and constellations. It could be a good first step toward making a habit of appreciating the night sky more often. Anyone know any good astronomy books, preferably ones with clear pictures or drawings to help me identify the stars and constellations?

-Tim

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