Ecotourism often focuses on vanishing natural resources, such as rainforests and glaciers. It’s not often, though, that we think of looking up when we ponder the fate of the natural world under threat. Yet the starry night sky is disappearing as rapidly from human experience as vast tracts of the Amazon or the Arctic ice cap.
Light pollution is growing at the rate of four percent per year, according to the International Dark Sky Association. It is so pervasive that if you were to stand on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, you would see less than one percent of the stars that Galileo Galilei saw through his telescope in 1610.
Part One of this series explored the movement to protect the earth’s natural nightscapes. Here in Part Two, you’ll find suggestions for stargazing destinations that will open up the universe to whole new realms of perception. Escape the orange glow of interstates, car dealerships and mall parking lots, and discover the wonders of our twinkling galaxy!
Part One of a two-part series on light pollution and dark sky conservation and tourism.
Few experiences instill more wonder than sitting outside on a summer night and looking up at the stars. Locating constellations, spying satellites and hoping for the flash of a falling meteor are pastimes sure to fill you with a sense of awe. But finding a place for serious stargazing can be a challenge. Until you’ve seen a truly dark sky, you don’t even know what you’re missing. Part One of this two-part series explores the need to protect and promote our natural starscapes. Stay tuned for Part Two, to find the best places to view the night sky.
“In the great silence of my favorite month, October (the red of maples, the bronze of oaks, a clear-yellow leaf here and there on birches), I celebrated the standstill of time.”
– Czeslaw Milosz
Ahhh, October. I think of this month, the height of autumn, as an interlude where nature gifts us with a last, dazzling blast of color before winter’s monochrome prevails.
It’s also a perfect time to enjoy the bounty of nature’s gifts close to home — so you can enjoy an incredible, eco-friendly fall-break trip that saves gas, money and carbon emissions.
In some regions, like northern New England or the Rocky Mountain high country, autumn’s palette peaks by late September. But elsewhere there is still plenty of foliage on brilliant display even into November. The key is to go lower in altitude and latitude as the season progresses. While New England is renowned, other regions also offer an immersion in fall’s finery.
Here are seven scenic byways around the country that promise an exuberant burst of color into the latter half of October or beyond. Pack a picnic basket, camera and your hiking boots, for full enjoyment of these lesser-known leaf routes.