“Twinkle, Twinkle”

When I was six my best friend I sometimes spent the night at my best friend Skipper’s house.(My friends had names like that, including Dude.) One special treat was sitting in the living room with the lights off while a toy shone constellations of starts on the ceiling. It seemed magical. Of course I was very used to looking at the night sky for the same arrays, but this was indoors and very unusual.

Later the local science museum built the planetarium shown in the image above. Here the seats reclined, the ceiling opened up, and lights mimicked the sky, changing over time and seasons. While we were supposedly listening to the scientist droning on and on about astronomy, I for one just relaxed into the chair and dreamed.

When my daughter was little, she insisted that we put adhesive backed glow in the dark stars on her ceiling. She seemed to find them as magical as I had at Skipper’s house.

Sadly light pollution, especially in the part of the country where I now live, has drastically reduced the view of the night sky with just a naked eye. I remember always finding the Milky Way as a child. Now apparently it is obscured for 80% of North America. So pervasive is light up and down the East coast that Maine distinguishes itself by having a “Dark Sky Festival.” I hope that all kids will have a chance at some point in their lives to see a night sky full of stars. I hate to think their only experience will come from the recreations of toys, planetariums and ceiling stickers.

28 thoughts on ““Twinkle, Twinkle”

  1. It certainly becomes more and more difficult to find areas without light pollution and, even when you can find one that is nearly ‘dark sky’, you can often hear the distant sound of traffic, or trains, or aircraft!


  2. I am really enjoying your ‘reminiscing’ posts Elizabeth- hope there are more in the pipeline. Each one takes a ‘small moment’ in your life and brings it to life for all of us. It’s the way you allow it to relate to modern days that gets me thinking and nodding. Thank you!


  3. I spent the first 60 years of my life in London, where light pollution meant that there were never any stars to see at all. When I moved here in 2012, the night sky was breathtaking, and a wonder to me. But lately, low cloud is comstantly obscuring so much of that same wonder. I will have to wait for those long summer nights once again, and hope for no clouds.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  4. I loved sleeping outside as a kid gazing at the sky above . There were so many stars and we were sometimes treated to falling stars. In college I took Astronomy and at Western in Bellingham you could still see a lot in the night sky. My favorite memory is of seeing Saturn the first time. I still love the night sky but agree that things seem rather sparse unless we get away from the city.


  5. Yes! I had glow-in-the-dark starts on the ceiling. I was probably in my 50’s and used a few stars one of the children didn’t want.

    I walked next to an inlet of Long Island Sound most mornings for 20 years and saw lots of stars near the beach. I didn’t know how much I wasn’t seeing until we moved. Now, in the mountains of NC, the sky is awash with stars, and I have a hard time finding the constellations I know.


  6. One of the highlights of camping was always being away from the city’s lights and being able to enjoy the night skies.


  7. I remember one time a few decades ago – going to bed in a room, lights off and then suddenly the whole ceiling and upper walls bathed in those “glow in dark things” not just stars either. In the morning my hosts apologised…it was quite fun but I was glad to get home to my home and away from that at night…


  8. This is one of the reasons I think children and families need to go camping. I often think of children who live in a city and probably don’t get to see the stars. It is really a sad thing. I have the same memories- glow star stickers and light constellations are still popular today. Did you enjoy finding the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt?


  9. We can still see the stars just outside our door, although light pollution is gradually creeping in. When our grandchildren could visit, it was always a highlight of their visit to go out front in their pajamas and see the stars just before they went to bed. I long for those days. In Sedona, they have laws on lights burning after a certain hour. The night skies are glorious there.


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