Did you know that during the month of August, stars are closer to the earth than during any other time of the year? Star parties are popular in the summer months. Members of the Boise Astronomical Society host star parties in August. The Idaho Falls Astronomical Society also holds star parties throughout the summer. There is one in Lava Hot Springs in August and another at Craters of the Moon in September.
But you can have your own Idaho star party any time. When night falls and you’re in a magical place away from the bright lights of the city, you can be at one with the universe–just you and the stars. Two of the shared moments submitted to Boise State Public Radio as part of the buildup for Ira Glass’ visit to Idaho tell of the many locations where you can just “be and see.”
At the intersection of three scenic byways is the small mountain town of Stanley, Idaho. While mountains encompass the town in all directions it is the prominent peaks of the Sawtooth Range that safeguard the town and its one hundred residents. At night, every star burns sharp as no rising buildings compete with the sky or scrape away at the light of the moon. During the day the power of the mountains lunge into your sight, their presence felt even when their peaks hide behind thick clouds. It is easy to become unaware of the rest of the world here and for a moment let the mountains carry all your worries.
The first time I camped at Bruneau Dunes State Park I was a 15 year old boy scout, spending a wild, stormy night in a small pup-tent. I remember the stark contrast to other camping adventures I had had. There aren’t a lot of trees there, it’s hot and it’s dry.
But a wonderful thing about the park is the remote location, out in the desert, south of the Snake River. And when the heat of the day gives way to the cool desert night, when the stars blaze across the sky, with a quite so loud you can’t help but notice it and you can hear the coyotes yipping and howling out in the dark, it makes you realize it’s truly a special place.