Will 2020 be the year you start stargazing?
If so, this is a great year to begin. There are many celestial highlights for 2020.
First, I’ll step back in time a bit when I began star gazing. Camping out in the wilderness, especially the desert wilderness, was the perfect place for star gazing. I did a lot of that with my family growing up.
But, also as a child, I did it in the city of Houston where I lived. I remember when my father took out the platform bed he had made years before and set up a “real” bed. You know, a box spring, mattress and metal bed frame. My bed was under the window in my bedroom, but now the top of my new bed came right up to the bottom of the window frame. Since that window faced the backyard, there was less interference from street lights. I would lay on my bed, gaze up at the stars and dream of far away places across the galaxy. I guess I could be a star-child.???
Years later I became a big Star Trek fan and then Star Wars. But, there was never anything better than staring up at the night sky from my sleeping bag and cot in the desert or my bedroom window. Now my gazing place is from the dock at Round Lake in Ontario where I go every summer. I lie down on the dock and look up at the milky way. It looks close enough to just reach out and touch it.
From this site, you’ll find dates for what’s on board in the night sky for 2020 (sorry, some as already passed by) and where the best place on the planet is to see them. There will be a ring of fire eclipse, the famous “hole in the sky”, four lunar eclipses, three super moons, giant planet week were Jupiter and Saturn will be extra close, meteor showers promising to be extra fabulous and the “Great Solstice Applause”. So be sure to check the dates and places for the best views.
Now, you may wonder why am I telling you all this. The answer is, besides being super cool to see, gazing at the night sky is actually very good for your health.
Star gazing makes us nicer
A UC-Irvine study found that looking up at the stars makes us nicer because it helps us feel “diminished in the presence of something greater than oneself.”
When we look up at the night sky, we realize how insignificant we – and our problems – are. This likely opens us up to be kinder and more compassionate. Hopefully, to see that we’re all sharing the same planet and we're only here for a short time. This can help spark us into wanting to serve the "greater good".
Lead researcher, Dr Paul Piff explained, “Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function.
“When experiencing awe, you may not, egocentrically speaking, feel like you’re at the centre of the world anymore. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others.”
Star gazing slows us down
Slowing down just naturally happens when we pause to look up at the night sky. We take the time to stop, breathe and reflect. Doing this has numerous benefits for our mental, physical and spiritual health.
Star gazing ignites creativity
I’m sure you’ve noticed those times when you came up with your best ideas while in the shower, or (as I do) just before you drift off to sleep? This is because it’s in those moments when your conscious mind quiets down and your subconscious mind can come out to play. Your subconscious is where your ideas come from. It’s the place where your creative spirit can fly to the moon and beyond.
When we look up at the stars, we switch ourselves off from the world around us. It gives us a moment to ponder life’s big questions. Plus, light up our imagination.
So, these are three wonderful reasons to take a break and practice the lost art of star gazing. :-)
I’ll end with this beautiful quote from Stephen Hawking:
During an address at Cambridge University in 2012 he encouraged his audience to "look up at the stars and not down at your feet.” To "make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up."
Hope to see you out there!