How to Mess with the Mind of a City Boy

I’m trash.  I’m filth.  I’m no good for you.  I have to confess that I cheated on you by joining the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association (MHAA).  Even worse, I’ve been seeing them behind your back. I joined them in the heat of an utter outrage in battling the light pollution here in my hometown of Brooklyn.  If that weren’t enough, after joining MHAA, I went seeking and obtaining stargazing permits to use at Fahnestock and Lake Taghkanic State Parks after hours.

My journey began by setting off from work on Friday, September 7th, 2018.  With a four-day weekend coming up I made a reservation to stay overnight at a nearby motel.  My journey put me on the BQE, LIE, Van Wyck Expressway, and the Hutchinson Parkway “Hutch”.  Just to get to the “Hutch” I went 15 miles in exactly one hour.

Torture.  Complete and utter torture.

From there it took me another two hours and twenty minutes to reach Hillsdale, NY where my motel was located.  By the time I checked in, I had just enough time to get to Lake Taghkanic State Park to set up in the remaining daylight.  I didn’t even have the time to take off my tie.

Upon arrival I met with just one other member who had a telescope and about nine other visitors.  Apparently, there was another event in another town and the MHAA sent members there to participate.  While I met a former Brooklynite, a former NYC DOE teacher, and other pleasant people and their children, you could tell that I was not from “these parts”.  I began to question if I had put myself in a bad situation.  However, I did what I do best, show my love for this hobby.  I had an arsenal of equipment with me and I “cleaned house” like an enema from hell.

After pointing at the usual early targets, the planets, I then became more and more curious as to what the Messier objects looked like outside of Brooklyn.  I could swear that I could see the ones in Sagittarius’ asterism, “the teapot”, with my naked eyes.  With some clouds looming in the area, I had to constantly look for the objects that were currently visible.  And then it happened – we had twenty minutes of clear skies allowing me to look up and see a cloud stretching across the sky towards that “teapot”.  Like the biggest idiot on the face of the Earth I asked, “Is that the Milky Way?” Everyone around me just stopped and looked at me.  I then explained that I had never seen it before.  Previous trips to Albany and Lake Placid when I was younger did not reveal it.  Trips that I took to big cities did not reveal it.  I was like a deer in headlights.  Every star just popped out of the sky.  I can’t explain it.  While I can brag that city living allows me to get Chinese food at 11pm any night of the week, I cannot brag that I can see the same sky from NYC.  While I can see a Broadway show any night of the week, I cannot routinely see the show that the heavens put on for me that evening.  Simply amazing.  Eventually, the clouds forced us out of the park but, the three plus hours of travel made it all worthwhile to be under that sky for about an hour and a half.

The next morning featured the second phase of my trip, my meeting with a real estate agent to settle into that vacation home long before I retire.  Hopefully, I will fulfill my goal of spending more time up in the darker skies and growing further into my hobby.