When I was fifteen years old or so, I had my most surreal stargazing experience while laying in a very remote area of Northern California. There was no wind, no strangers, no animals nearby; the only sound I heard was my own breathing, and after some time that seemed to disappear as well. What I felt was most easily comparable to watching a nature-based documentary in IMAX, when the music in the film relaxes you enough that your vision seems to magnify the screen image and you feel yourself just “sink” in to the churning water or rolling tundra that is being beautifully portrayed. But there were no technological tricks at play here. The cloudless sky was framed by the smallest tips of pine trees far off in my peripheral vision. The stars were the brightest I’d ever seen them, and some twinkled prettily, making the blackness shimmer as if dotted with tinsel. Then, slowly, the tree tips faded away, and I felt myself moving closer to the stars. For a long time my gaze was pulled from one to another, from the large obnoxious ones to the shyer and harder to see; they were in control, not me, and I wanted to thank them for the show once it was all over.
Posted: Tuesday, April 13th, 2010