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I’ve already planned my next summer soiree: June 20 with Champagne served at 10:34 p.m. This is the longest and lightest day of the year, and with the earth’s axial tilt, it signals the astronomical start of summer. World interpretation of this occasion has varied among cultures and throughout history, but most recognize it with a festival, often centered around fertility or religion. I have decided to pass on those themes and instead focus on the stars themselves, that magical mat of twinkling lights we see when we turn our faces upward.

You can stargaze anywhere, provided the night is clear. Suitable places tend to be on higher hills and away from the city. Luckily for those of us who call the North home, there are still vast swathes of wilderness and water that retain the natural nightscape. This summer has plenty of celestial wonders in store for us, including a meteor shower in August.

picnic for the summer solstice veuve cliquot

Photography by Roy Son

To begin stargazing, all you have to do is look up. There is something magical about seeing stars with your own eyes; however, there are some must-haves for an enjoyable evening. Use your star guides to become familiar with the night sky. Employ a good pair of binoculars if you want to get a closer look; they are a nice middle ground between the naked eye and a telescope. If you find it hard to spot the faint stars, look to the side of what you are trying to see. Peripheral vision is most sensitive to light and dark, making it easier to see dim objects when the rest of the sky appears gray.

There are so many high-tech tools to help us navigate the skies, but I recommend foregoing them and just gazing up with the naked, unaided eye. This is how our ancestors saw the sky, and over thousands of years, it’s barely changed.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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