As night falls on Devils Tower National Monument, it transforms from a place of darkness into a place of wonder. Thousands of twinkling, glittering stars dot the night sky over an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills. Stay for nature’s night show at Wyoming’s Devils Tower – it’s worth it! Photo courtesy of David Kingham.
“Before we invented civilization our ancestors lived mainly in the open
out under the sky. Before we devised artificial lights and atmospheric
pollution and modern forms of nocturnal entertainment we watched the
stars. There were practical calendar reasons of course but there was
more to it than that. Even today the most jaded city dweller can be
unexpectedly moved upon encountering a clear night sky studded with
thousands of twinkling stars. When it happens to me after all these
years it still takes my breath away.”
~ Carl Sagan
Five thousand years ago, the Sumerians called the night ngi, the stars mul, and the moon Nanna.
Four thousand years ago, the Akkadians called the night mūšu, the stars kakkabū, and the moon Sîn.
Three thousand years ago, the Hittites called the night išpanza, the stars haštereš, and the moon Arma.
Two and a half thousand years ago, the Greeks called the night nux, the stars astra, and the moon Selênê.
Two thousand years ago, the Romans called the night nox, the stars stellae, and the moon Luna.
Kings and queens and heroes looked up at them. So did travelers coming home, and little children who sneaked out of bed. So did slaves, and mothers and soldiers and old shepherds, and Sappho and Muršili and Enheduanna and Socrates and Hatshepsut and Cyrus and Cicero. In this darkness it didn’t matter who they were, or where they stood. Only that they were human.
Think of that tonight, when you close your window. You are not alone. You share this night sky with centuries of dreamers and stargazers, and people who longed for quiet. Are you anxious? The Hittites were too: they called it pittuliyaš. Does your heart ache? The Greeks felt it too: they called it akhos. Those who look up to the stars for comfort are a family, and you belong to them. Your ancestors have stood under Nanna, Sîn, Arma, Selênê and Luna for five thousand years. Now its light is yours.
- you’re on a lonely stretch of the freeway and running out of gas. you come up on a small town and exit. you spend an hour looking for a gas station. there are homes, a grocery store, a dentist, but no gas station.
- you’re ten miles out of a sizable town. you drive around a bend in the mountain and come upon a row of stalls. you walk up to one. behind a table covered in intricate beaded jewelry and beautiful stones sits a smiling Navajo woman. you comment on her work. she nods but doesn’t speak.
- you’re hiking. the sun is baking the back of your neck, and the ground beneath your feet slowly changes from brown to yellow to red and back again. you feel thirsty constantly, and every thirty or so feet a tower of perfectly stacked sandstone rocks tells you you’re going in the right direction.
- it’s night, and you’ve been dragged by your friends to a place the locals call “the narrows”, a slit in a canyon barely wide enough to walk through, horizontally. there’s a rock wall pressed to your back, sandstone beneath your cheek, and air leaving your lungs.
you look up at the sliver of black speckled sky and breath.
- you’ve been driving for three hours and have three to go. you don’t expect to see anything for miles, but you come up over a hill and out of nowhere a town appears. you pass old rusty trucks, a church with a crumbling marque, stores with broken windows, and houses with doors that move with the wind. a ghost town is being born.
- the air is hot, the skies are a stormy gray, and rain would feel cleansing to the dry ground beneath your feet. but it’s not going to rain. you know it’s not. To your west the mountain flickers red and orange, clouds rising from the wreckage into the swirling sky.
- you’re standing just in the shadow of a cliff, eyes glued to the structure in front of you. it’s a building, moulded like pottery from clay clinging to the cliff face. they’ve been her for centuries, weathering the desert, abandoned, and they still don’t know why.
- someone needs to pee. you all pile out of the car, and move the the edge of the road. you stare nervously at the sparse but paradoxically thick grass. Anything could be in there. gophers, lizards, crickets, rattlesnakes… you watch your friend anxiously as they step into the brush, then glance at your feet, praying you don’t learn what’s out there.
- it’s late, you’ve got fast food wrappers in your lap and the air outside is finally cooling. you’re driving out of the city, prepared for the next leg of your journey. you see a motel, the vacancy sign flickering, the song hotel california playing on the radio. you speed away.
- the air is different. you can feel the change in pressure. you watch the skies anxious, ready to smell the rain, and the desert when it rains. clouds roll in. the sky is black. but something is wrong. the air is too tense, charged, not rain you realize. lightning crashes on the mountains, thunder seconds behind, and the around you crackles.
- they call it goblin valley. hundreds of “hoodoos” cover the valley floor in different shapes and sizes. during the day it’s like a playground. but you came at night. it has one of the darkest night skies in the world. you stare up at hundreds of thousands of stars, but it always feels like there is someone watching you.
It had taken Prompto several weeks to finally be ready to propose to you. It wasn’t so much the planning of it that had taken a while so much as it was the fact he had to go through each photo he had ever taken of you. Prompto had always known that when the time came he would want to somehow use photography to propose to his significant other, he just never knew exactly how he’d want it to play out. But then the idea struck him.
The two of you had been friends since he was still a fat grade-schooler; in fact, you had been one of the few people to have been genuinely nice to him during those days. You and Prompto had been inseparable and had remained by each other’s sides ever since. Having to leave you behind during his journey to help Noctis had been one of the most painful things and when he’d finally returned he had asked you to go out with him. “Just once,” he’d said. Then that one date turned into a another, which turned into another, which turned into…well the point was, from that moment on the two of you had definitely been an official pair. And it was actually you that had given him the idea on how to propose.
❧🍂🌟A bright full moon fills up the autumn night sky. Thousands of twinkling stars shine and illuminate the cozy warm room. They fall gracefully into our hair and onto our pillows, symbols of dreams unfolding and materializing.🍂🌟