Why Living In Cities Sucks

Illustration for article titled Why Living In Cities Sucks

When you live in a city, it's easy to forget that we are surrounded by the greatest show in the Universe: The Universe itself. This sky comparison chart is the sad proof of that.

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Sadly, missing the awe-inspiring show of all those planets, stars, and galaxies dancing around us is the price humans had to pay for having observed it in the first place:

When our prehistoric ancestors studied the sky after sunset, they observed that some of the stars were not fixed with respect to the constant pattern of the constellations. Instead, five of them moved, slowly forward across the sky, then backward for a few months, then forward again, as if they couldn't quite make up their minds. We call them planets, the Greek word for "wanderers." These planets presented a profound mystery. The earliest explanation was that they were living beings. How else to explain their strange looping behavior. Later they were thought to be gods, and then disembodied astrological influences. But the real solution to this mystery is that the planets are worlds, that the Earth is one of them, and that they all go around the sun according to precise mathematical laws. This discovery has led directly to our modern global civilization.

A Personal Voyage — Harmony of the World, by Carl Sagan

Excellent dark sky

Illustration for article titled Why Living In Cities Sucks
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Inner city sky

Illustration for article titled Why Living In Cities Sucks

Next time you have a few free days, remember the images above and go to a remote place, far from any town, in a night with no moon. If you have never done this, I can assure you that the experience will deeply affect your perception of the world. [Thanks B!]

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DISCUSSION

kaisermachead
kaisermachead

Up in the backwoods of Isle County, MN, I used to lay on the roof of my uncle's van to stargaze for a while. During the middle of winter, it helped to have a substantial amount of layers between you and the icy roof of a Ford Econoline. This was the straight up sticks. Besides the house we stayed in, just about everything else was in a trailer park engulfed in snow and more darkness. The single lamp kept to illuminate the one dirt intersection (and let people know if bears, coyotes were passing through), was out that night. It's pretty stellar (pardon the pun) to sit in almost pure blackness staring at the sky, but at the same time, I was a wee bit more interested in getting laid instead. Obviously, in the dark backwoods with no one around but retired Navy and Army folks, and no proper town around within 15 miles, that wasn't going to happen.