One of my all-time favorite things to do is go outside at night and just look up. It never ceases to amaze me, just looking at the infinite beauty of our universe. There's not much to see in the night sky if you live in Vegas, where the neon drowns out all but the moon and about 5 stars. We usually trek out to Tecopa, CA if we want to stargaze. Not that you actually have to go that far away from Vegas to enjoy the night sky. But there are a group of eclectic folks out there that like to have "Star Parties" with expensive telescopes and some choice spirits. It usually starts with a snack at Pastels Bistro, the best (and only) gourmet cafe in this very small and unique town of massage therapy and natural hot springs. Our good friend John Muccio, an award winning five star chef, always welcomes us with some mouth watering treat. (John is in the red shirt, working in the kitchen with his son, Ryan) Each visit out there is a unique experience and has been known to end with some spiritual prayer in the Labyrinth and howling with the coyotes.
I grew up camping in the mountains of Wyoming. We used to sit around the campfire and watch for satellites, which look like a star that's steadily moving across the sky. I would sleep outside in the back of the truck, with just my face poking out of the down sleeping bag, gazing at the indescribable beauty above. The mountains are probably the best place to view the stars on a dark, moonless night when the sky seems like its bursting with millions of glittering jewels. Here, the Milky Way is so clearly obvious. The longer you sit there gazing upward, the more it dawns on you how immense, how incredibly endless the universe is. You also get a sense of how very small and insignificant this little planet is. Not to mention the concept of time. What does time matter when you're staring at eternity?
I only knew and could find a few constellations like the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and Orion. My favorite spot in the sky was a small cluster of stars that to me, looked like a keyhole. I'm not sure why I was so drawn to this small cluster of stars, but when I looked at them, I would get this incredible feeling of awe. Many times I would imagine flying around between them in a spaceship. I didn't know what this group of stars were called, if they even had a name. I just considered them my special little group. Years later, I took astronomy 101 at ythe Community College in Las Vegas. I was looking through my new text book for class when I saw a picture that excited me so much I almost dropped the book. There was my group of stars! I couldn't believe it, out of the millions of stars in the sky, they had a picture of my group! I learned that these stars are called the Pleiades (the seven sisters) and they are located in the constellation of Taurus. My sign happens to be Taurus and I never had a clue that these stars were part of my Zodiac sign constellation. They are even more beautiful up close.
Whenever I get the chance to get away from the city lights, I look for the Pleiades. When I find it, I often wonder if there's anyone out there looking back at me.
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