Also known as amateur astronomy. It is one of the most pleasurable, inconvenient and introspective hobbies one can find.

All one needs is to go outside and look up on a clear night. The darker the sky the better. A telescope is not need, just a good starchart and your eyes. A good pair of binoculars would add a lot to the viewing.

Go outside, lie down one a lawn chair, and take in the beauty and the serenity. A lawn chair comes in useful when holding the binoculars. A blanket would be a good idea as well. If you have a starchart, use a flashlight with a red filter over it to reduce the brightness. You will need to wait about 10 minutes for your eyes to completely adjust to the night. The red light has the least impact on night vision.

The inconvenience comes from mostly streetlights, it being evening hours, and the colder night air. Not to mention fumbling in the darkness. And some car driving by and blinding you with headlights.

But once past the inconvenience, and while absorbing the universe that's been sitting right on top of your back yard all those years, a certain perpective about humanity starts to sink in. Of how small our world actually is. Of what could be out there. There has to be something out there. So much space and only us? So many stars and galaxies and systems and just you and your neighbor? Can't be, can it?

There it is, the rest of the universe. And all you have to do is to just look up.

Do you remember that time when we were out in the canyon in the middle of the night? After an entire day of hiking, we were exhausted. I had no idea where we were heading, my sense of direction completely shot. Dusk was upon us, and we were still in the canyon all by ourselves.

You reached out and touched my hand, and when I didn’t pull away, you slipped your hand into mine and guided me along, insisting that you knew where we were heading. I trusted you to find the way back. Your hand was warm and comforting, but sweating a little, just like mine. You said you knew that I was afraid of the dark, and didn’t want me to be scared. Perhaps in the murkiness of dusk you didn’t see my smile.

We stumbled along holding hands until we saw some very faint street lights. Eventually we made it back to the parking lot where my van was parked. It was pitch black by then.

I was suddenly deliriously happy - drunk on happiness even. I knew loved you then, and…my love for you will never crumble and fade away. We swung around and around on our hands like a couple of kids without a care in the world. I suppose back then we really didn’t have a care in the world.

You pulled me close to you and we gazed into the night sky together, looking for familiar stars. Aside from the Big Dipper, I really didn’t know one star apart from another. You showed me Orion. At first I couldn’t see it – but remember? You showed me the belt, and his body became clear to me. Then you showed me the North Star and the Big Dipper – then, the rest of the stars all began looking like dippers. I saw big dippers, small dippers, and medium dippers everywhere. You laughed at me for being so silly. It was wonderful being so close to you. Sharing a moment together like that was priceless.

That moment will never ever come again, but the memory of it will always be here, in my head. I will not mourn my loss of you. I will instead cherish the good memories that we have had. I only hope that you can remember me as well…in times to come.

All that time spent outside, unfortunatly mostly during theday. The real beauty comes out at night. Tonight, I went stargazing with my beautiful girlfriend. After a night out at Pollie's, an establishment at which food is dispensed in Appleton, WI, I took the keys to her Jeep. The moon was full and the sky clear. When I had driven away from the lights of the city, I parked the Cherokee on the side of the road and got out the blankets I had stashed in the back seat.

Soon enough, we were on top of the roof, laying down and looking up. Well- she was looking up. I couldn't take my eyes off her. The way the moonlight shone off her cheekbones and reflected in her eyes was something I won't forget for as long as I live. That's more than can be said for important dates such as our anniversary and Sweethearts Day. Numbers and names don't stick too well in my mind, but the more time I spend with her, the more i find myself amazed by her.

Stargazing isn't so much about the stars, but about the company with which you do it. The night sky brings out feelings and thoughts from people like nothing else can. I found myself learning more about my relationship with her than the stars. Deep conversation is like stargazing into the soul.

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