Over the past few days as I’ve been preparing for another trip in the RV, I’ve tried to pinpoint what it is about camping that is so attractive to me now. One thing that first comes to mind is the fact that I will once again be able to see the stars at night so much better than here in the city. I love to look at the stars late at night when the world around me is very still and quiet. There is something so “other-worldly” about kicking back in my comfy outdoor recliner when things are quiet on a night with no moon and literally millions of stars overhead, especially when we are camped in a good dark sky location.
If you’ve never been to a real dark sky destination, then you may not be able to fathom just what I’m talking about here. You cannot help but look at the stars due to their brilliance in a good dark sky setting. It is a sight that is so rare to see nowadays for those of us that live near city lights or even near smaller towns because the light pollution just covers up their visibility.
I will never forget my first real dark sky experience in 2011 when we camped in the Davis Mountains of far West Texas for the first time on a clear winter night with no moon. I wish I had words to accurately describe what I saw in the sky that night, but I don’t. I don’t think there are words that could ever describe it because it was just unbelievable to me at the time, especially since I was totally unprepared to see it for the first time. I am a visual person, and that is why I love photography. But at that moment, I was seeing something I had never seen in my fifty years of living. As I gazed up at that stunning sky that night, it didn’t take me long to realize that this could potentially be once of those “once in a lifetime” moments, so I spent a few minutes just attempting to take it all in. Soon my husband also came outside to see the sight, too. As tired as I was after our long drive that day, I think I could have literally stayed up all that night just star-gazing. It was magnificent, truly a sight to remember, and I see now what attracts some people to be astronomers. I really wanted to stay out longer that night to just soak it all in.
Since this week is International Dark Sky Week, I wanted to just share what this means to me, especially as we go camping. We are definitely more conscious of our own light pollution now when we camp in dark sky destinations on nights with no moon. There are times that we enjoy our outdoor lights for a little while at night when star-gazing is not really a big deal, but when it is, we turn off all of our outdoor lights and most of our indoor lights at night, and we’ve seen other campers do the same thing out of courtesy to those that want to see the stars. This is a nice camping courtesy that we quickly learned about on our first trip to the Davis Mountains, and I encourage all campers to keep this in mind when traveling to dark sky destinations, especially on nights with no moon. We realize that other campers may have traveled hundreds of miles to see the stars in a real dark sky setting, and I certainly would never want to spoil that opportunity for anyone.
This is a good video about the dark sky project, which I think is very interesting and something to think about, for sure.
We cannot always plan our camping trips during dark sky weeks, but it is certainly an added bonus for us when we can. The stars are definitely big and bright and make for great memories. I encourage everyone to become educated on dark sky etiquette, then pick a dark sky destination, and enjoy the fabulous view!