Tonight, Stare at the Stars — Not Your Screen

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Too often, our evening free time disappears as quickly as the sun sets.

We get home from the daily grind, eat dinner, clean up and then bury ourselves in our screens — TV, phone or computer. Before we know it, it’s time for bed.

How often have we heard about a meteor shower, prominent planet or even the space station passing by but haven’t carved out time to see it?

Next time, clear your schedule and head out to stare at the stars. It’ll do wonders for your body, mind and spirit — and it won’t cost you a dime.

Stargazing soothes your mind

Something happens to us when we stand at the edge of the ocean listening to waves or walk quietly through the woods. We become less tense, and the stressors of our daily lives start to slip away.

Spending time in the forest reduces blood pressure and decreases stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline, studies have found. The ocean’s rhythmic waves have the same effect, de-stimulating the mind as our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in. That’s the part of the nervous system responsible for slowing the heart rate and bringing our bodies back in balance.

Gazing at stars produces that same sense of calm. We unwind in the quiet solitude of the sparkling sky surrounding us. Share the experience with your family or your special someone so you can connect in a relaxed setting away from any pressures at home.

Astronomy 101

When we glance up at the moon, we may notice its phase, color and some cool shadows. Then we go about our night. Deliberately setting aside time to see all the pieces of the sky together is a different story.

When we find a spot far away from the city lights and can clearly see the sky, the scenery takes on a whole new meaning. Suddenly, we can spy planets and constellations. We may even see the space station in orbit or be lucky enough to see a shooting star (and make a wish)! Pack binoculars if you want to get a closer look.

If it’s been eons since you took an astronomy class, you can download one of many phone apps to be your tour guide of the sky. Some apps allow you to point your device to the sky and tell you what you what you’re seeing. Just make sure you put the phone away after that!

We’re part of something bigger

Once our mind and body have relaxed and our everyday worries are temporarily on the back burner, we can’t help but tap into our spiritual side. Stargazing inspires us to contemplate the vastness of the universe and our place in it.

It’s amazing that our eyes can see masses that are light years away. Usually, we spend our time living from moment to moment and seeing what’s right before our eyes. When we stargaze, we look beyond our immediate world.

The sky we see is the same one everyone around the world can see — even if it’s arranged slightly differently. No matter where we live, we are all a part of the same universe.

So, set aside your evening chores one night soon and head out to a peaceful spot to stargaze. You won’t regret it.

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