The Stars at Night

It’s a little unusual, but I actually love flying either very early in the morning (pre-dawn) or at night. I think part of the reason is because the dark seems like a comforting blanket wrapped around the plane. The breathtaking daytime vision of floating through the clouds is replaced by deep and wonderful silence.

The part I especially love on these flights, when I happen to have a window seat, is the blanket of star light…from below. I know I shouldn’t love the lights of civilization. I should be against all of the light pollution stealing the show from the natural stars. But there’s something amazing about gazing out over that sea of sparkling colors. I love the brightness. I love the intricate and indiscernible patterns. I love that if you stare at the yellow lights for long enough without blinking, some trick of your eyes will turn the lights a midrange violet.

I learned that last one on my last night flight. It was a pleasant surprise. I think I’ll test it out on my next night flight.

Back in the days before laser vision correction, I could take off my glasses and see a whole different field of stars. Every light – street lights, lamp light, candlelight – was transformed. If you imagine a light in its pointed roundness, every light under the influence of my inadequate eyesight exploded from a simple point into a radiant ball, the colors of all the lights on the road spilling into and over one another. It’s the one thing I miss from that period in the life of my vision.

I have a night flight in a few days. I’m smiling now thinking about my window seat.


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