It makes me sad to think that a lot of kids growing up in the cities today have no idea of the beauty they are missing in the night skies.
When I was a young lad of about 10 years old (circa 1967) I was a member of the Boy Scouts, as was my best friend Jeremy Goodman who lived just round the corner from my house. (The image below isn’t of me or my friends – it’s just a picture I found on Google – but the shorts and socks and berets give a taste of how dorky we all looked).
Our scout meetings were held on Thursday evenings at the youth club on the corner of Dobcroft Road and Whirlowdale Road in Sheffield, England. After the meetings, Jeremy and I would walk to the fish-and-chip shop at the bottom of his road and each buy a bag of chips (French Fries). These were presented in a bag of greaseproof paper, which was then wrapped in several sheets of old newspaper to keep everything warm and toasty.
In those days, people used to donate their old newspapers to the fish-and-chip shop (I remember my mom sending me down there with piles of papers), but this practice was eventually terminated because the government thought it was unsanitary. Be that as it may, my recollection is that the chips tasted better in those days (grin).
Jeremy and I looked even dorkier than these guys
Our favorite time of the year was the fall when there was a chill in the air. Jeremy and I would take our bags of chips, walk up the road to his house, and – using various finger- and toe-holds and well placed vines – climb onto the flat roof of his garage. Then we would lay on our backs munching on our fish and chips (sprinkled with salt and doused with malt vinegar, yum-yum) while we looked at the stars and talked about Life, the Universe, and Everything
Now I come to think about it, there were more stars in those days and they were much brighter than the ones we see today (grin). Actually, all joking aside, the stars really did appear to be brighter and there really did seem to be a lot more of them. In fact, you could see the band of the Milky Way arching across the sky. This was because pollution in general – and light pollution from street lights and suchlike, in particular – wasn’t so much of a problem back then.
About 10 years ago as I pen these words, I took 10 days off work and went on a road trip with a friend. We drove from Alabama to a “Dark Sky” area in the southern part of Texas (about an hour’s drive from El Paso, as I recall) where there was zero light pollution. We spent a week sleeping in the days and observing the heavens at night. The stars were so bright and so numerous that if I had painted a picture of it the way I saw it you would have thought I was exaggerating (or consuming copious amounts of LSD).
The image above doesn’t do things justice. The camera simply cannot reflect the subtly of the human eye. If you are looking at this sort of thing in real life, you will see that the stars are twinkling with all sorts of colors, plus you see lots of other stuff like shooting stars (meteorites). We also had two honking big telescopes with us that allowed us to observe all sorts of things in detail.
The thing is that it really was staggeringly beautiful, and it made me realize just how bad things are (light pollution wise) in the cities these days. In fact, it makes me really sad to think that a lot of kids growing up in the cities today simply have no idea of the beauty they are missing in the night skies.Click Here
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series...Editor's Note: It would be great if – in addition to commenting on my articles – you took the time to write down short stories of your own. I can help in the copy editing department, so you don’t need to worry about being “word perfect”. All you have to do is to email your offering to me at max@CliveMaxfield.com with
“How it was” in the subject line.I can post your article as “anonymous” if you wish. On the other hand, what would be really cool would be if you wanted to add a few words about yourself – and maybe even provide a couple of
“Then and Now” pictures – for example:On the left we see me as a young sprog – I was still a student at this time, poised on the brink of leaping into my first position at International Computers Limited (ICL). On the right we see me as I am today – a much older and sadder man, beaten down by the pressures of work and bowed by the awesome responsibilities I bear (grin).
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