(Published in Savvy Magazine, July 2014)
The nearest I ever got to seeing a Milky Way in England was when I ventured into the chocolate aisle at the supermarket. If a meteor shower was announced on the news, either there would be too much light pollution to see anything, or the sky would be obscured by the rolling banks of cloud that always seem to get snagged on the UK for weeks on end.
With a lack of bright stars, it was easy to forget we are part of an enormous galaxy. That our planet is a tiny particle of dust floating in the dark ballroom of space. That maybe, somewhere out there, aliens exist. You could go for months without thinking to look at the night sky, and only holidays in the remotest areas showed you what the stars might be capable of.
Here, there is a display nearly every night. On clear nights (i.e, most nights) the sky glitters with planets and constellations. A sparkling Milky Way blooms with swirling clouds of colour like petrol on water. I let the dog out at four in the morning a couple of weeks ago, and was instantly greeted by two shooting stars, one arcing left, another right. Here, the stars are astonishing conversation-stoppers. A quick look turns easily into ten minutes.
Star-gazing is even easier with the Google Skymap App. Point your device at the sky and it tells you exactly what you’re looking at. And if you can’t wait for nightfall to see the stars again, take a look at Northlander Chris Pegman’s amazing photos on soliloquy.co.nz