The Impact of a few Minutes With the Night Sky

Until recently, I haven’t had many opportunities to go outside at night and stare up at the stars. Sure, I’ve seen them before in large numbers, but it’s only been in the last year or so that the impact of seeing these stars twinkle overhead has fully sunk in. Think about it – those tiny lights are large masses of fire burning billions of miles away. And they all have a part to play in the natural environment here on Earth.

The photo that you see above was taken on January 18 of this year in my front yard at about 9 p.m. If you look closely, it’s possible to see the Pleiades star cluster in the top right corner.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to northern Minnesota for one the first time during the winter months. Up north, away from the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul, there is a much better chance that one would see stars shining bright due to the reduced amount of light pollution. In fact, the northern regions of Minnesota are so great for dark skies that Voyageurs National Park – the state’s lone national park – is a certified International Dark Sky Park

Anyway, one night while we were up north at around 3 in the morning, I woke up to go outside and see the stars during a brief, fully clear moment that allowed for the stars to shine at their fullest. I can remember seeing a star cluster known as the Pleiades and feeling so small compared to the darkness of what was above me.

It was in this moment that I found the connection between the night sky and nature, and it was in this moment that I realized just how impactful spending a few minutes outside in the dark can be. To fully reconnect with nature and shy away from technology, dark skies are definitely a key.

If you want to experience the night sky in a fuller amount of darkness than you already see, check out the resources below.