Darkness

I am testing blogging from my droid. My parent's ranch is actually out of signal range, so I hopped in a atv to drive down the dirt road until I got a signal.

Like most who have read Asimovs Nightfall, I read the part about everyone being so afraid of the dark with some smugness. But most of us city-bred folks don't know what real darkness is. I went outside last night, after the moon went down, at a ranch 30 miles by dirt road from a town of 2000, and it was dark-dark. So dark that the darkness seemed to have material substance. Dark enough to not be able to see my hand in front of my face. I kindof understood how those guys in the novel felt.

The upside was that the stars wered amazing -- not quite 30,000 suns but the milky way was amazing. Watched a number of satellites come by using a web site that give time and where to look.

  • Tim

    Living in a city I found that I can leave the shaded visor on my motorcycle helmet at night and see fine with all the street lights, so it's definitely darker in the country, but from the last time I was out in the country and not under tree cover I remember all the stars and moonlight making it surprisingly bright without any artificial light.

  • Jeff

    Spelunking is another place to experience true darkness. Once you're more than a few hundred yards underground, there is absolutely no light. Turn off the headlamp, lay back against a rock, and experience an odd sense of being alone, even if you are arms length from a half dozen friends.

  • Henry Bowman

    Parts of Arizona and New Mexico can be extraordinarily dark. Spending some time in such places on a clear night can provide one a real appreciation for how well ancient people knew the skies. Just the details of construction at Chaco Canyon (NW New Mexico) should really impress any moderns.

  • ADiff

    If you have opportunity, watch the skies from shortly after nightfall for an hour or two afterward....when it's REALLY DARK you can actually see the dust trails left behind by small meteors as they drift in the upper atmosphere...and there's no shortage of them either! It's pitch black on Earth, but the far reaches of the upper atmosphere are still lighted for a while by the sun and these dust trails are clearly visible. It's pretty remarkable to see.

  • ElamBend

    @Tim, I once got pulled over in Chicago for not having my lights on. Amazingly enough, when I explained to the officers that I just couldn't tell they weren't on because of the streetlights, they let me go.

  • Danny

    So if you could actually see stars, then it wasn't dark enough. Try a cement basement with light sealed doors.

  • LoneSnark

    Pansies. wait until it is a cloudy night in the middle of nowhere. That is darkness. No stars. No moon.

    Odd for a different reason is being in the city during a cloudy night, as it is freaky to live without shadows. The light is dim, and the color of streetlights, but comes from everywhere. It makes me think how cool it would be if the sky was a big mirror, and instead of scattering our light back at us, we could look down upon ourselves, just by looking up.

  • Sukrit

    How did you write it? Did you put up with the small keyboard, or was the voice-to-text function any use?

  • Sol

    Sounds like a time for the Google Sky Map app...

  • Anon

    Off-topic. I know you like homeopathy: http://xkcd.com/765/

  • I hope you have the Google Sky application for your Droid.

    It uses the GPS, position sensors and compass in the Droid to show you what the different constellations are and where the planets are.

    It's awesome, but I haven't been someplace dark enough to use it properly.

  • dan

    http://www.simpleflybys.com - linked from spaceweather.com, they'll give you time & coordinates - I've seen the shuttle & ISS a bunch, very cool!

  • Early in my career in stage lighting, I actually lived in a dressing-room in a theater for a while. The place became my personal light-lab. I used to practice dimming (very low levels, with very long fader-run times, done manually), and I took hours to seal the theater light-tight in order to work. Absolute darkness is fairly difficult to achieve, and really remarkable when you get there.

  • BDAABAT

    Sorry, a bit off topic. Great little app that for $18 can allow you to tether your Droid to your laptop to get to your cellular network... The free version works to tether to the net, but won't allow connections to secure sites.

    PDANet. http://www.junefabrics.com/android/

    Bruce

  • Michael Stack

    Wow, can you really see the satellites? Can you see them w/ the naked eye, or is magnification required?