Recently I had an extraordinary experience observing the night skies with a friend in the Grand Teton National Park. My friend Phil from Alabama set up a camera on a beach near Jackson Lake to photograph the Milky Way while my equipment consisted of a simple pair of binoculars.
As the evening twilight darkened a glorious canopy of stars, planets and the Milky Way came into our view. It is not easy to paint a picture of the appearance of a truly dark sky. So many stars appeared that night in the sky above us that it became difficult for us to identify the usual constellations that span our night sky.
The Milky Way was visible arching high overhead across the entire visible sky. Turning the binoculars upwards we saw many thousands of stars against the background of the light and dark patches of the Milky Way. The Andromeda Galaxy, some two million light years distance, was clearly visible as an elongated patch of light. Also visible were star clusters, nebula, the planets Jupiter and Saturn, as well as several meteors and manmade satellites making their way across the sky.
Sometime on a clear, moonless night when you are far from city lights, find a place to park your car, turn off your headlights and look up towards the sky. You won’t be disappointed.