Find A Place To Re-connect To The Stars
Our ancestors did not have smartphones. They did not have internet. They did not have Amazon delivery of everything from candy to Kayaks. They did not have long lives and antibiotics. One spectacular thing they did have, that we usually do not, is the night sky.
When campfires were lit by our ancient ancestors, fire began the trend that would result in mega-cities and entire coastlines lit up so brilliantly that satellites can now easily trace the outlines of entire continents. But the cost of our technology has been to lose touch with the guiding, and gorgeous stars.
Once upon a time, we felt as though we held the sky. This had meaning and wisdom, and beauty beyond all Earth. It has slipped our grasp.Take a trip beyond city light to recapture their magic.
For a fantastic show of the reeling and glittering stars, nowadays, you have to get away from city lights to where the air is clean, clear and wide open. It is always worthwhile to do, because reconnecting to the stars reminds us of our belonging. It is both a humbling, and an uplifting exercise. Knowing we began as stardust, and that we now enjoy a kind of immortal consciousness, tells us we are as long-lived as matter and energy itself, yet we are but the merest specks of being.
Living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, one has unparalleled views of the night sky. Far from any light pollution and city haze, the Big Island of Hawaii, is considered the best place on Earth for star viewing.
Atop Mauna Kea there are thirteen telescopes that pierce the night sky and allow researchers to engage in Wayfinding (the sea-faring boldness that allowed Polynesians to make their way across thousands of miles of ocean), in its most modern sense. The ancient sea-faring ways of reading night skies, waves, and weather is now perfected and allows us to look deeply into space to our origins. Entire galaxies, the light of some which began its journey to our eyes hundreds of millions of years ago, can be viewed on a clear night. Through a few telescopes on Mauna Kea, the light from almost fourteen billion light-years away — when our journey began — flickers softly as it is gathered through exacting lenses.
To really enjoy the stars, get as far away from light pollution as you can. Bring a folding chaise, blanket, or pad to lay flat on your back. Bring a simple star map, if you can get your hands on one. Read up on Greek mythology, or other international star naming origins, to enrich your ties to the stories that are written across the night sky. Check the NASA website to look up how to identify the International Space Station, ISS, as is slowly winks down from low earth orbit. You can also learn how to spot other satellites, comets, meteors and more.
Some archaeologists date cooking fires at Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa to be as old as one million years. For most of that time, hominids knew, studied, mythologized, learned and depended upon the signs in the sky that told them when to gather, when to hunt, and how to survive. Today, we are practically lost without Google Earth, but our progenitors knew and navigated by, the sun, moon, planets, and stars. Thoughts about the creation and its heroes dawned on early minds and were soon splattered up against the night in what we now call the constellations. Gazing at the Milky Way, (Via Lactea — as in lactose) named for The Goddess Hera’s nourishing breastmilk, ignites inner wonder and contemplative questioning.
Technology that engages us with email, tweeting and texting is a marvel that keeps us connected, but not to the same intimate, and entrancing, degree that our flickering campfires beneath open skies of yesteryear were able to do. It is this that led us here, and if we are wise, the sky will lead us back to the wisdom that nature holds out for us like a lustrous bauble.
No other experience on Earth is like observing the stars. They are at once as familiar as our ancient campfires, and as unknown as the origins of the minds of we who contemplate them. Some celestial objects we only now are seeing, no longer exist out there in the dark velvet. Those stars and any surrounding worlds died ages ago. Yet, we can see their light as it arrives from so far away, that only our finest scientists do the job to calculate the distances. To know that light is far, far, older than even our oldest known fragments of ash from South Africa, conjures magnificent, mind-numbing imagery.
Your belonging in the universe is no small thing. It took every fragment of stardust, and glimmer of light across the universe to make the unique collection that is known as “You.” There is something mind-soothing and yet, awe-inducing, about reacquainting yourself with the stars.