Tag Archives: Star gazing

Starry Starry Nights

19 May

As a child, I spent many evenings gazing skyward, with my father pointing out constellations…the Big Dipper, Orion, Cassiopeia. I never could see Draco the dragon and finally said, “yes Daddy” to stop the pointing and the neck strain. In Mexico I visited the Mayan pyramids of Palenque, home to the ancient astronomers and was awed by the night sky. Moving to Austin to attend the University of Texas, I needed a science elective and choose Astronomy. I stood on the roof of the math-science building for my final exam in 1975…Taurus, Pleiades, Andromeda, you could see stars then. I’ve always loved the dark. I walk in my neighborhood before dawn and wish the neighbors would turn off their porch lights and the city, the street lights. I just want to see the night sky. The stars of Big Bend National Park had me laying out and feeling insignificant and pondering the universe. I managed to travel home from Big Bend by way of the McDonald Observatory, high in the Davis mountains. It was beautiful even though the sky wasn’t that clear and prompted our usual conversation, “Could we live here?”.

The sky that affected me the most was in Thailand. Lisa and I had taken a three-day trek into Northern Thailand at the foot of the Himalayas. We hiked into villages where people spoke indigenous languages. The second night we stayed in a hut perched on the side of a mountain. I got up for my usually visit to the bathroom and stepped onto a balcony under the stars like I had never seen before. I immediately woke Lisa and dragged her out to gaze skyward and point. She is a good sport and stood with me as I missed my dad and wished he could have seen a display of stars he didn’t know existed.

As I ticked off my list of requirements for where we were to retire, I needed the dark, a place to see stars. I was initially disappointed staying in Bacalar, where the sky wasn’t very clear and I could see light pollution coming across the lake from Chetumal. So much seemed perfect and I was afraid that I was going to have to choose between a beautiful lake or a starry starry night. A visit to Teresa, our soon-to-be neighbor changed all that. We sat on her porch making small talk, imagining our own porch on the adjacent property overlooking the lake. Saying our good-byes at the front door, I looked up and saw a sky that rivaled Thailand. That’s when I knew this was where I wanted to live the rest of my life, in the dark and under the stars.

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