Stargazing

This post is also available in: Dutch.

Wonders of the night sky; picture by John Dohmen.

Wonders of the night sky; picture by John Dohmen.

Living in the Netherlands, and here on Curaçao too, I often come to realize that often a lot of nature, we as humans can experience, is far away. Granted, lots of it is also close by (on Curaçao a bit more than in the Netherlands), but most of it is further from me than I’d wish it to be. Think about it, the rain forest is rather far away. Snowy mountains? Far away. Deserts: also far away. It is one of the beauties and flaws at the same time of the world: Nature is spread all over, but often, most of the natural wonders we want to experience up close and personal are far, far away from our direct environment.

The farthest away of all are the stars. Thousands of kilometers high above us all they are more unreachable than any other form of nature we know. And yet, where ever you are, stars are the one thing you can admire everywhere. When traveling through the high Pamir mountains in Tajikistan, the starry skies where among the most wonderful I have ever seen. When cycling through the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan, the stars were bright and beautiful. Camping in the south of France with my parents at a younger age, the stars were always there. Even in the big cities, where nature can feel farther away than in any other place, stars are there for you to look up to. In that sense, stars might be considered the closest natural element of all.

Stars are far away and yet always close (picture by John Dohmen).

Stars are far away and yet always close (picture by John Dohmen).

Shooting stars

I love staring at stars. Sitting down or laying on my back and just staring at the night sky and letting my thoughts run free. Stargazing, it is called. It is just one of those things, like staring into the flames of a self-build campfire or listening to the crashing waves at the beach. Just like those things, stargazing is never boring. The simplest of things and yet strangely satisfying. There is one definite highlight of stargazing – even though stars are all pretty high lights (a little word play I couldn’t resist): the shooting star. I am not the superstitious type and you will not see me close my eyes after seeing a shooting star to make a wish – what if I miss another one? – but every shooting star has the strength to make me sigh from relieve and satisfaction.

Having seen plenty of natural beauty around the world, I consider myself lucky. But back in the Netherlands I will long for the sight of snowy mountain peaks, stretched and silent deserts and the blue bays of Curaçao. Of course I will have my pictures to rely on, but I’ll realize how far away from me it all is. The only thing I won’t have to long for is the sight of stars in the sky. Even though they are farther from me than any of the places in my pictures, all I have to do is go outside and look up.