If I walk out the front door of the house we’re staying in, sometime after it’s fully dark, and look up, I can see the Milky Way. For the past thirteen years I’ve been living in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has so much light pollution that you’re lucky if you can see a few stars at night. In that whole thirteen years I probably saw the Milky Way fewer than ten times. So even though we’ve been living in Westport for a month and a half, I’m still amazed when I look up and see all those stars.
When I was a child, I remember seeing the Milky Way all the time. But gradually, light pollution grew worse and worse there. By 2003 when my father sold that house that we’d grown up in, you could see far fewer stars. And for most of my adult life, I’ve lived in cities or congested suburbs where I couldn’t see the stars.
It feels good to look up and see the Milky Way. I guess it helps orient me to where we are in the universe. By next week, we’ll be living in Cohasset. We’ll be in the midst of the massive light pollution of Greater Boston. I’m glad that I’ll no longer be spending three and a half hours a day driving to and from work. But I’m going to miss the beauty of the night sky.