The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
The overwhelming consensus for the best viewing of dark sky areas in the U.S. is in the western United States. However, there is a regional locale east of the great Mississippi River that is a real surprise: Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania. I used to live in Arizona, so my vote is still either for viewing in the Sonoran Desert, AZ or at Steinaker State Park, UT. But this little-known park in Pennsylvania is an offbeat, and frankly, much closer choice for us here in Ohio. It is a terrific place to camp and view the remote dark sky. Well, there still is one more place in the U.S. that I would argue should be put on the dark sky list and that is in rural Michigan. At 3:18 am to be precise in the farmlands of nowhere, on a cool, clear morning. And what happens at that time with viewing the Milky Way, even partially visible in this area, is truly an astonishing experience.
Check out the star section on ScienceFlix
I couldn’t sleep. Simple as that. For whatever reason, I tried most of the night to read, to relax by counting, but lay there in the dark, listening to my husband softly breathing. And this doesn’t happen very often, my not sleeping and my husband softly sleeping. I looked at the kitchen clock as I padded my bare feet to the window and was surprised to see how amazingly dark it was outside. Our neighbors usually have security lights on, either on their homes, or on tall utility poles, but this night there was no sign of anyone awake, let alone lights on around us. I opened our backdoor, which leads to an enclosed back porch, and peeked over the railing to look up. It was truly beautiful, but with the porch roof being the way it slopes over the house, I couldn’t see the sky in total. So, I went back in, and opened our front door, and walked away from the house to get a better look.
Breathtaking. The only word to describe the view. I could see part of the Milky Way blazing overhead with more stars than I believe I have ever seen around here. It seemed that all the stars were standing on end in a grand sweep across the sky directly overhead. I could clearly see Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter shining too. I sat down on the front stoop, and looked for an hour, perhaps more, barefoot, tucked snuggly in my long robe and PJs, just observing, not even thinking of anything for a long while. Several meteors from the Perseid Meteor shower streaked across the sky in that time to enhance the engaging magic of the time that much more.
I have a passion for science, so I enjoy reading about all types of new discoveries through non-fiction titles. It creates an awareness for the real, the possibilities to come.
It's sort of like how I feel about fiction, which is terrific, for example, John Grisham’s new work Camino Winds, yup, is a really good read.
But like any view of the dark night sky in Utah, California, or Nevada, what about a different alternative, which is based on the real, what is actual? How about trying non-fiction titles as opposed to the next great fiction read, or while you are waiting as number such and such on the list for the next great fiction read? It may not be easier, better, but it can create a new, enhanced perspective on the things around us, right here while we just be.
I enjoy reading about real people and events, for a great many times these stories are more engaging, evocative, funnier, sadder, and truly more engaging than any made-up story. (And I am not talking about biographies right now, but also very good alternatives to a couple of days of reading fiction.) Like the night sky right in our own backyard, minus the security lights, why not try some of these titles as your next need-to-read title? From horses, to world history, to art, to technology, you may just be as surprised and astonished as looking up into the night on a cool, clear evening when you can’t sleep.