What do Terelj National Park, the hills of Chiang Mai, the Great Barrier Reef and the Australian Bush all have in common?
They are the four places on earth whose views of the night sky have quite literally taken my breath away.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m any kind of astronomer or indeed have any interest in the sky. I’ve certainly got no desire to ever travel to the moon or leave this atmosphere (I will travel the world but JUST the world). However, there’s something about the night sky in all its glory that makes me shiver. I can watch it for hours. A few days ago, I watched the blood moon come into glory, and gave me a chance to lie back on the grass and remind myself of just how beautiful it is.
To be fair, like a lot of people I grew up in cities and villages with enough lights and pollution to drown out most of the stars, and it was only when my family moved to a tiny handful of houses in the country, and I went out very late at night around New Years that I realised how much I never saw. The sky isn’t just a big black sheet – take away the lights on the ground and its astonishing how little black there actually it. There are stars, galaxies, planets all dotted around and visible to the eye in the way I honestly didn’t know was possible. And even further out with ones eye, the black almost seems gritty, with stars you more feel than see. Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’ makes so much more sense when you see the sky without the lights of earth.
I may not want to go there, but lying back and seeing all those stars is both inspiring and a little bit magical. You realise how small you actually are in the grand scheme, and how much easier it is to believe that somewhere out there, life exists – staring up at the same sky and thinking the same things we are. The universe is right there, close enough to touch – and its only isolated from humanity’s modern day achievements that you can step back and truly appreciate it.
The most frustrating thing about travelling and loving the sky though? My camera sucks at taking any shots that do it justice. The sky remains one of those things I can only really enjoy right then and there. Frustrating, but at the same time, magical and timeless because of it.