Hi, I’m Vicky DerksenI’m a writer, educator, podcaster, and Dark Sky advocate and I love nature and the night sky. I’m here to help you discover the night sky in a whole new way. Things to See in the Night Sky in 2021
I want you to fall in love with the dark!
Growing up under the dark skies of Idaho’s northern panhandle, I thought everybody in the world could see the Milky Way. I even got a glimpse of the Northern Lights a couple of times!
But after I finished school, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona and most of the stars disappeared into the glow of light pollution.
I didn’t know at the time that 80% of people on Earth can no longer see the Milky Way.
My husband and I relocated to Fountain Hills, Arizona on the farthest edge of the Phoenix metro area where we started our family. I was so grateful to be able to see the stars again!
When my kids hit their early teen years, I taught a year-long class on naked-eye astronomy to a group of 22 students in my community. Parents frequently stayed for the lessons so they could enjoy the outdoor activities with their kids at home.
One mom admitted to a lifelong fear of looking up at the sky (something I later learned was called casadastraphobia). She forced herself to relax in her lawn chair and learn the constellations and tracked the phases of the moon with her kids. By the end of the year, she had fallen in love with the night sky and bonded with her children in a new way.
I frequently took dinner guests to my backyard after dinner to give them a tour of the night sky with my laser pointer. I didn’t even have a telescope yet!
Those experiences of living under the view of the Milky Way, exposure to light pollution, and helping others discover the night sky made me want to get involved in dark sky preservation.
Today, I am the Vice President of the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association. Our organization helped our community become the world’s 17th International Dark Sky Community in 2018. I am also the Project Development Manager for the International Dark Sky Discovery Center where I’m helping to bring a 15,000 square foot night sky center to life. It will house an observatory, planetarium, hands-on immersion zone, and an inspiration theater.
Most of the people I talk to feel disconnected from
the night sky and have not had any meaningful experience with it.
That is why I started Night Sky Tourist. I want to help you learn the night sky so you can identify constellations, find planets, enjoy a great meteor shower, and fall in love with the dark.
I also introduce you to great dark sky destinations where you can have exceptional experiences under the night sky. I share ancient cultural astronomy such as indigenous star stories and the astronomical sites that were built hundreds and thousands of years ago. And I give you ideas for creating your own backyard stargazing oasis along with ways you can advocate for dark sky preservation where you live.
In 2020, I launched the Night Sky Tourist podcast. It has been a smashing success from day one. I’ve had the great pleasure of chatting with some remarkable guests such as:
Dr. Anthony Aveni
Dr. Aveni helped develop the academic field of archaeoastronomy, which is the study of ancient astronomical sites. He did extensive research on the astronomical history of the Maya Indians of Mexico and other places around the world. We also chatted about Mayan timekeeping and their apocalyptic worldview.
Geoff is a meteorite hunter extraordinaire. He hosted three seasons of the TV adventure series Meteorite Men. In this 2-part episode, we chatted about the world of chasing meteorites, the Chelyabinsk Meteor that struck Russia in 2013, and discuss today’s private space travel opportunities.
In my “Behind the Scenes of Night Sky Tourist” episode, I give you a little peek into the future of Night Sky Tourist. You can look forward to some events, both virtual and in-person, stargazing and night sky travel books, tours, and more. Check out the podcast episode for an intimate chat about the heart of Night Sky Tourist.
Which brings me to you!
My aim is to inspire you, educate you, and connect you with the night sky. Whether it’s through blog articles, the podcast, my fun newsletters, or anything else I might offer, I’m in this to make a difference. To help you and your family reclaim your night sky heritage. To help you connect with nature through the night sky. To fall in love with the dark.
One of the ways you can do that is to download my free Things to See in the Night Sky in 2021. This month-by-month guide will help you locate the major constellations that are visible, identify planets, know when to get outside for a meteor shower, and track the monthly moon phases.
Thank you for taking the time to visit. I’m thrilled that we have connected and excited for the journey ahead with you.