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EYES TO THE SKY: Visit the wilderness – look up to the sky

The preservation of the world depends on each person’s recognition that in wildness is the preservation of a robust self.

December 23, 2019 – January 5, 2020

“In Wildness is the preservation of the World” — Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”

Mount Washington — Find Venus, the brilliant Evening Star, low in the southwest everyday from dusk until nightfall. In addition to its beauty, the certainty of its being there to be discovered will be a thrill of affirmation: that you know your world and belong here. The surety that Venus will be positioned above a slender crescent moon on Saturday evening, the 28th, makes it like a holiday worth including on our calendars. Venus, next in luminosity to the moon and Sun, is visible even in light-polluted towns and cities.

For best view, turn light up on your screen. Dec. 28, Saturday evening, at about 5:40 p.m. Filament fine crescent moon below brilliant Venus. The Great Square of Pegasus, top. Illustration: Starry Night/Judy Isacoff
Image courtesy

We most often think of earthly wilderness when we hear Thoreau’s statement, “In Wildness is the preservation of the World.” In fact, starry skies complete the whole worldview essential to wilderness experiences. The preservation of the world depends on each person’s recognition that in wildness is the preservation of a robust self. Just as all kinds of pollution endanger life on land and sea, each of us may be responsible for unknowingly adding to the blanket of smog-like light that now covers most of Earth’s skies, deadening the view, excluding humans from the cosmic wilderness. In her TED Talk, “The Problem of Light Pollution and 5 ridiculously simple ways to fix it,” astronomer Kelsey Johnson states that the magnitude of damage to humanity – and, by extension, to our planet – by the loss of a view to the cosmos may be greater than all other threats.

Take heed and act! The five to-do’s are: Don’t use light when you don’t need it. Use only the necessary brightness. Direct fixtures down to avoid useless scatter upward and sideways. Choose warm, not blue, lights, especially when choosing LEDs. More homework: If you cannot see the Milky Way from home, go to a dark sky location to find out what you are missing! For the inspiring, full story, turn on Johnson’s TED Talk.


Calls to action

TedTalk by Astronomer Kelsey Johnson”

Mountains of Stars” is an educational program that connects people to the environment through astronomy. Support astronomy outreach programs and the next generation of science communicators and dark sky advocates. A collaboration with the Appalachian Mountain Club. and


The solar year image and

Thoreau, Henry David, “Walking” circa 1860, widely available


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EYES TO THE SKY: Stargazing supreme — dark skies, warm nights

Crucial to the survival of our view to the cosmos is working together to significantly reduce light pollution.

NATURE’S TURN: North America’s Eastern Phoebe — reliable tenant, engaging neighbor

Phoebes find the structures we build adaptable to their own need for shelter while raising young. In turn, our lives are enriched by observing their activities and hearing their “fee bee” vocalizations in our midst.

EYES TO THE SKY: Here, in the Milky Way galaxy, fireflies flash, barred owls hoot, Scorpion’s red heart beguiles

It is Summer Solstice time in Earth’s northern hemisphere. The Sun, the star at the center of our solar system, is with us most of our waking hours.

The Edge Is Free To Read.

But Not To Produce.