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How to find a dark sky

The dark blue areas are reasonably dark skies. One of the darkest areas on the East Coast is in West Virginia. Note that almost the entire state of North Carolina has ruined skies, with the exception of the Dismal Swamp in the northeast corner of the state.

One of the cruelest, most magic-killing forms of our alienation from nature is our inability to see the stars. Light pollution, of course, is the cause of it. Cities, suburbs, rural areas, fracking areas — all these places are brightly lit, all night. Massive quantities of fossil fuel are expended to drive off the darkness. This is insane, but it is only one of the many forms of insanity that we’re no longer even aware of anymore, because that’s Just the Way Things Are.

Would you like to see how far you’d have to travel to see a dark sky? Here’s a link to instructions on how to get a light-pollution overlay for Google Earth. First you download a light-pollution map (it’s a TIFF image) from a site in Italy. Then follow the instructions in the link to load the overlay into Google Earth and position the overlay correctly.


I am in northwestern North Carolina, north of Greensboro and Winston-Salem. Note that the nearest dark sky, for me, is in southern Virginia, between Hillsville and Floyd. I am quite familiar with that area. It’s isolated, is sparsely settled, and is reachable on tiny, winding roads.


In my novel, Fugue in Ursa Major, the young protagonist is a stargazer. The novel begins with Jake driving southwest from Charlottesville to go stargazing, to the blue area west of Grayson, Virginia.

The new publication date for the novel, by the way, is May 30. I’m still waiting for one of the first readers to finish. He’s an academic and won’t have time to read the draft until the end of the academic year, which is — tomorrow! His feedback on the novel is very important to me, so I’m holding up the release of the book for a few more weeks.


  1. Chenda wrote:

    Looking forward to reading 🙂

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  2. medieval muse wrote:

    I am originally from WV (currently live in Raleigh, NC) and can attest to the dark night skies of my home state.

    Love your blog – found it doing a search for Gothic Revival homes.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

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