Living where I live, to escape from light pollution takes time. And miles. And some warm layers.
Earlier tonight it dawned on me just how bright the full moon was. There’d been the much-hyped “super moon” the night before, but there was just enough of a thin, hazy cloud layer to render it borderline pointless. Tonight the sky is fully clear, and the moon is decidedly bright. So I decided to head out of the city, to get a better and less distracted view.
I didn’t go very far this time. The last time I drove to get away from the city’s light pollution I went a good 20 minutes out of town along the Yellowhead. This time I barely went 10 minutes east from the Henday, not far from Sherwood Park. I twisted through a couple gravel rural roads until finding a nice clearing, and parked.
It wasn’t as isolated as one might want. There were plenty of farms and acreages nearby, and a couple cars passed by. The light pollution was barely cut, really. Only a little more than the major planets and constellations were visible.
But the stars weren’t the focus. They were shoved aside by the sheer power of the moon. It was just that bright tonight, as bright as anything. Compared to how the moon usually glows, especially within the city, it was as though someone had put fresh batteries in an LED flashlight. As I lay on the hood of my car, head against the windshield, the moon downright glared at me. My worn out glasses gave the light a smeared, flowery effect. Removing the glasses didn’t help much. The moon still blared with a cold white force. I had to let my eyes adjust in order to see around the big light, to see the Orion constellation and the other distinct little orbs.
My eyes played tricks on me just the same. I don’t think I’ve ever directly seen a shooting star before, only ever in periphery. At first I thought I saw a small one out of the corner of my eye, and so I focused to see if there were more, even a shower. A couple more peripheral little streaks passed before I realized that the stars seemed to be dancing in general. Some sort of optical illusion, probably brought on by how tired I was, or my eyes worn out from staring at a laptop all day, or even a side effect of the moon’s powerful glow.
Either way I let it pass. No wishing tonight. No constellations. Just a short rendezvous with a decidedly bright moon.