As much as I like many aspects of city living — the density, the hustle and bustle, the major cultural institutions, just to name a few — there are other aspects of it I’m less fond of. Like many kids, I was fascinated by space growing up, and loved to go stargazing whenever I could. I don’t really remember if I had many opportunities in Columbia, but Amherst is rural enough that finding a sky free from the worst of the light pollution isn’t terribly difficult, and the UMass stone circle (not quite as imposing as Stonehenge, but constructed along similar principles) was basically walking distance from my house, so I have many memories of summer evenings spent staring heavenwards.
Rather unsurprisingly, Los Angeles is . . . not like that. I’ve definitely seen stars here, but only the brightest of them, and even then not reliably. The fainter tracings of nebulae and the dusty sweep of the Milky Way are all blotted utterly from view. I’ll probably be living in cities for the rest of my life. I may well have seen the majority of all the stars I will ever see in my life. So pieces about stars and stargazing have a special resonance for me, tinged with nostalgia both for the past and for an imagined future.Read More