Cedar Mesa, Utah:
La Sal Mountains, Utah:
Comb Ridge, Utah:
Moonrise over Canyonlands National Park:
Elk Ridge campsite, Abajo Mountains, Utah:
La Sal Mountains, Utah:
* Lying on my back and looking straight up presented more stars than I usually see in the entire sky.
* When the moon rose, it woke me up with the brightness of it. The first night I thought it was morning for a moment.
* Watching satellites go overhead wasn't reserved for just the very reflective ones.
* I thought I'd seen the milky way before. I was very wrong.
* The sparks and tiny flame from a cigarette lighter were painfully bright. The glow of a cigarette lit my companions' faces when they had one (dimly but noticably).
* Staying one night at a motel in the tiny town of Kanab before heading back to civilization, I had trouble sleeping because it was so bright. Staying the next night in Vegas was even worse.
If you haven't seen them in a true "dark sky" setting, I highly recommend it. You'll be shocked how many of them you see and how there are just layers and layers of them everywhere and being able to see the milky way with the naked eye is incredible. I doubt it comes close the so-called "Overview effect" Astronauts talk about when they see the Earth from... not the Earth, but it is still quite powerful and humbling when you're used to looking up and seeing half a dozen stars on a good night.
The International Dark Sky Association exists, but I don't know how successful they have been.
"The first effect, and I would say the most dramatic, is that it steals the sky. People no longer see the sky. There are many people out there who have never seen the Milky Way, who have never seen zodiacal light. Sometimes I ask people, "Do you know what zodiacal light is?" Three-quarters of them do not know, they have never even heard the word. It's part of something that held great significance in the past. It's contact with the sky. It's that feeling you get when you go outside on a beautiful starry night, Milky Way and all. That contact was present throughout humanity until only a few decades ago."
We greatly underestimate the fundamental and mystical implications of these changes on the inhabitants of this planet.
I had completely forgotten the look of a clear night sky. It was absolutely breathtaking. I felt as though I was going to fall away from the earth.
I truly hope that in the long term, humanity can build infrastructure that doesn't destroy access to the night sky.
Living out of a very tiny RV for a couple of days is an exercise in compromise but the rewards are definitely worth it.
The International Dark Sky Association (unsuprisingly based here) has resources for people interested in reclaiming their night sky:
1,000W bulbs: Just Say No.
On the other hand, out under the clear sky, I'd be off the road in under a mile without lights. It's Dark out there.
I sincerely hope we can solve this problem of lights spoiling the night sky for everyone. Especially street lights, those are the worst. I hate having to go to a forest to be able to see the sky I could once see from the roof of my house.
What amazed me the most was the number of shooting stars I saw, what I thought was a rare occurrence but if it is dark enough even the smallest particle of dust throws out an amazing glow as it enters our atmosphere.
For those of you in the Southern UK, I highly recommend a camping trip to Durdle Door. The camp site is a few hundred metres from the cliff edge and miles from any light pollution. Amazing views of the nigh sky from there too: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=durdle+door+night+sky&tbm=...
darksitefinder.com/maps.html (world coverage but not really detailed)
http://avex-asso.org/dossiers/pl/france/zoom/cdf-normale.htm... (France only, very detailed)
He can generate clear sky charts for most of Canada and the U.S. You can see light pollution maps and there are links to this Google Maps light pollution overlay:
If you're looking for more dark, but more travel time, just about anything between Snoqualmie Pass and Spokane and off I-90 a ways should offer a good bit of darkness. Think US-97 toward the Canadian border: open high desert, not a lot of civilization.
As a kid, I loved backpacking in the Olympic National Forest (Washington state) for this reason...
This is "Seven Lakes Basin", which I personally guarantee to be completely awesome: https://goo.gl/maps/pQKs5
[It occurs to me that light-pollution is 5D data—geographic coordinates + incident angle/direction + intensity—so I guess they'd have to take an average intensity over the sphere or something...]