Remember the last time you visited a planetarium? I remember the room being round and pretty much shaped like I imagined the earth sky to be. The seats had high backs, were comfortable and lounged precariously back so you could look up. The domed ceiling seemed immense and hinted at revealing something celestial. And, when the astronomer turned off the lights, the room became darkly silent and filled with a sense of infinity.
Recently, I experienced something very similar but instead of a room of stars, I was touched by a genuine sense of infinity and observed clarity that made me believe I could reach out and touch constellations. I have spent my fair share of time in the outdoors looking up at the stars, but last week while on property at Blue Ridge Mountain Club very early in the morning, I found myself captivated by the morning sky.
I have always been fascinated by stars but have never had the patience to stop and learn the different constellations. However, I do know the easy ones including the Big Dipper and Orion. The Big Dipper reminds me of my Dad. Like me, he knew very little about stars but he had a childlike enthusiasm for looking up unto the night sky during our family camping trips to find the Big Dipper. I don’t remember when I first learned about Orion, but I suspect it was during Boy Scouts. Like the Big Dipper, Orion’s belt is easy to identify and I have always been drawn to the romance that comes with the story of a celestial hunter.
Since having this experience, I decided to purchase the Star Walk app for my iPad. It has really been an amazing tool to carry with me on my nighttime forays. I saw Venus the other morning…quite a bright star and what a lovely lady. While planetariums are fascinating facilities and attempt to imitate reality, at the end of the day, they only provide false illusions. There is nothing quite like having access to the vast Unbelievably Great Outdoors, especially at Blue Ridge Mountain Club, and learning through direct and unadulterated experiences. Come visit, bring your family, and see the starry sky for yourself.