Do crisp fall nights make you think of pumpkin spice and wooly sweaters? OK. For an Adirondack Dad, this is a great time for a night walk under a starry sky.
There is no outdoors as big as the night sky. Cool, low-moisture nights open those skies amazingly. Do some of research before you go, or bring a star map, or a night-sky app, and you can add a bit of education to the experience.
Where to go? Urban dwellers are at a disadvantage, but seeing stars in the city is not impossible.
But if you can get into the country, look for a large open area or the summit of a hill with plenty of unobstructed horizon and as few lights as possible. I’ve found a large state park parking lot near my house that works well. The lot is not lit and very few people use the area in the fall.
Once you’ve found your spot, here are some other tips.
- Relax and be patient. When you first get out of the car, your eyes are not ready. It will take several minutes for them to adjust.
- Don’t use a flashlight or phone light unless you really must. Consider getting a red-light flashlilght or downloading a red-light app for your phone. Red light won’t have much impact on your nightvision.
- Once your eyes have started to adjust, take a stroll. Walking and chatting at night is a special experience. Enjoy the night sounds.
- Find a comfortable, safe spot and lie down. By now your eyes are probably even better prepared.
- Bring binoculars. A telescope can be more trouble than it’s worth unless you really know what you are doing.
- Know some constellations? Great. Why not make up some of your own. That’s where those constellation stories came from in the first place.
If the moon is up, examining it with binoculars is fun. But my favorite is a moonless night with extreme dark. And if you can coordinate your trip with a meteor shower, better yet. Check out dates in October, November and December this year.
Want some more tips? Here is a good beginner lesson. Here’s hoping you can fall into a love for the night sky.