North Dakota: Stargazers Heaven
Northern Lights, galaxies, stars ... and UFOs?
Do unidentified flying objects fly around our night skies, giving people just enough of a glance to leave them wondering “what was that?”
Who knows? What we do know is North Dakota is one of the best places to get lost looking for little green men, big green and yellow Northern Lights or uncounted stars, planets and galaxies. Why? Take a look outside on a crisp, clear night and try counting the stars. No, wait, don't. You’ll run out of numbers and the night before you run out of celestial beings of all kinds.
North Dakota's climate, location and geography are perfectly suited for viewing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). The amazing lights dance across the night sky in vivid green, purple and blue. Sometimes they compete for attention with a full moon that is bright enough to read by. OK, that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea. You literally would be able to see a bison approaching your campsite at midnight in backcountry of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
But stargazers don't have to drive far out of our larger cities and towns to escape the light pollution and be alone with the rest of the universe. Staring up, we wonder what's there. Does anybody see us? Do we see anybody else on that tiny light so far away? We contemplate things we can’t understand like how far is a thousand light years. But we drop that real quick to avoid a headache and get back to thinking about little green men. Sometimes we're treated to meteor showers or the twinkling lights of jets flying over or satellites and even the International Space Station cruising way overhead.
There are many ways to learn more about our night sky, including the Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival September 15-17 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Northern Lights watchers don’t have to wait until fall or try to catch the show by chance. Some websites like Aurora Service track the Aurora Borealis and when they should appear. Other sites go into more detail.
So, as Scotty said to the world after subduing the alien (James Arness of Gunsmoke fame, in case you didn’t know) in “The Thing From Another World,” watch the skies, keep looking, keep watching the skies.
In North Dakota.