The joys of stargazing and cloud-watching are that they go with you wherever you are, as long as you can see the sky. Summer, winter, the season doesn’t matter nor does the surrounding landscape. What does affect stargazing is the amount of light on the ground, or if there is a full moon, which hides the stars around it.
If you are in a city with many lights, it is difficult to see more than a few stars. But get away from the city and the sky reveals that it is covered with stars everywhere. In Alaska, the stars were often joined by the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights decorate the night sky with beauty and color. This is especially lovely during the dark winter months when we only have a few hours of sunshine.
The Joy of Stargazing
Stargazing was probably one of my greatest joys when growing up on a ranch. I used to sleep outside during harvest time so that I could look at the stars. They rotate around the North Star, so that the Big Dipper acts like the hands of a clock. I used to be able to tell time by them, since I saw them so often. When I rode my horse at night, which I often did, I would try to see how close I could come to the actual time by reading the star rotation. The same can be done with the sun during the day.
Cloud-watching is best done with cumulus clouds. The big fluffy kind that lets you imagine figures and landscapes, and that constantly change as you watch them. Teach your children the names of the different kinds of clouds, the names of some of the stars, and the constellations. No matter where they are in the world, the information will enrich their lives. If they travel to the Southern Hemisphere, the stars will rotate in the opposite direction and there will be different constellations, but the basic knowledge will get them started.
I usually mention the stars in my western books. The pioneers used the stars to set their directions, placing the wagon tongue at night to point north.
A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.