You’re about to fall in love with the dark.
Growing up under the dark skies of northern Idaho, I thought everybody in the world could see the Milky Way. But then I moved to Phoenix, Arizona and the glow of light pollution erased most of the stars.
I moved to Fountain Hills on the eastern edge of Phoenix where my husband and I started our family. This little suburb was in the perfect location to give me a view of stars again. I knew I would never take the stars for granted again.
Although my kids didn’t grow up where they could see the Milky Way, I wanted them to learn their way around the night sky. I gathered twenty students in the community for naked-eye stargazing and astronomy classes and taught the constellations, the motions of the celestial bodies, and the phases of the moon. We created sundials and backyard compasses, sketched the night sky, and learned how to use a planisphere, or star wheel, to identify the constellations.
When guests came to my house to visit, we’d end the evening with stargazing. I’d set up my telescope and aim my green laser pointer at objects in the sky. I’ll always remember the gasps of amazement when people saw the rings of Saturn with their own eyes for the first time. Or the child-like wonder that came over them as I recounted ancient star stories about Pleiades, Orion, and Sagittarius. One woman cried when she saw our moon through a telescope for the first time.
A friend revealed to me that she had a lifelong fear of looking up at the sky, which I later learned is called casadastraphobia. But she wanted to experience stargazing with her kids who were taking my class. So she forced herself to learn the constellations and track the phases of the moon with her kids. By the end of the year, she had fallen in love with the dark and bonded with her kids in a new way.
All of those experiences of growing up with the Milky Way, exposure to light pollution, and helping others discover the night sky led to my involvement 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 on the board of the International Dark Sky Discovery Center where I’m helping to bring a 22,000 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 never had a meaningful experience with it. That’s why I started Night Sky Tourist.
My goal is 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 introduce you to great dark sky destinations where you can have fun 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. I give you ideas for creating your own backyard stargazing oasis. And I show you how 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 cause you to fall in love with the dark. I invite you to download my free Things to See in the Night Sky in 2021. This month-by-month guide will help you locate major constellations, identify planets, know when to see a meteor shower, and track the monthly moon phases.
One of the ways you can do that is to download my free Things to See in the Night Sky in 2022. 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.