There are some pretty incredible things to do all over Idaho. Hiking into the mountains to check out broad and tall peaks covered in pure white snow. Biking down those mountains at incredible and seemingly daring speeds. Grabbing a fishing pole and trekking out to find the best river for fat and tasty fish. All of these could be wonderful pastimes, as they are best done during the day, and while there are other activities such as camping which inherently require nighttime conditions, though there is one particular activity that is truly excellent, and Idaho might be one of the best places on the planet for it. Star gazing in Idaho is very important and there are tons people in the Treasure Valley who are always heading out into the country to set up telescopes and check out the grand beyond that is often invisible in your daily life. With star gazing there is something for everyone, and it is the ideal activity to take up for next to no price if you want. You can buy all kinds of expensive and cutting-edge equipment that you call your own, or you can just find a nice dark patch of sky and stare up at a blanket of incredible bright points of light.
So, what is there to discover in the night sky? Honestly, the first thing I recommend is to go out as far from civilization as you can get and then just engage in all the sky has to offer until you cannot stand it anymore. Gazing up at a full field of stars with our very own galaxy opens you up to ideas and perspective that you just cannot get any other way. Laying out beneath the entire universe leads to incomprehensible thoughts on the nature of the world and everything within and without. It makes one feel both small and enormous, and it is fun to think about what else might be found in an existence that goes on and on into infinity.
Then there are all the objects on display for your viewing pleasure. Finding and pointing out constellations has always been fun and educational. Not only are you picking out shapes in the night sky, but if you connect the constellations to where they originated from, you can even get an interesting history lesson. A lot of ancient mythology and religion found its way into the stars and came from the stars to the earth in the minds of observers and thinkers of the time. What can be even cooler is searching for where the planets of our solar system currently are in the sky. You do not need a fancy telescope to do this either. All you need to know it what you are attempting to identify and which part of the sky to find it. You might find that it is interesting to see how the planets look the same or different from the stars around them and how they move differently. Of course, if you get a telescope, you may get a surprisingly detailed and up to date view of what the planets actually look like. Seeing an image of Saturn and its rings online or in a textbook is completely different from seeing it hovering in the eyepiece of a telescope, tiny and shivering. In fact, it can be easier than you think to find and use a telescope for stargazing. You do not have to buy your own unless you feel like it is worth it to you. There are tons of organizations and groups of people that have their own equipment and bring it out for the benefit of the community. The best part is they usually do so around important or cool events in our solar system. There are regular occurrences like meteor showers that create stunning spectacles in the sky that will awe and dazzle you.
Idaho is unique for stargazing in at least one very important way. One of the key ingredients for successful stargazing is darkness which goes beyond just waiting for night to fall. Light pollution is an increasingly large problem for people all over the country who want to see more of the stars. In the city, whether you live at the heart, in the suburbs or on the outskirts, all of the light that gets shot in every direction means it can be impossible to get a very good look at what is going on in the sky. There are efforts in the United States to reduce this kind of thing, such as putting hoods on street lights to concentrate light into specific areas so it will not interfere with star visibility. But, at least for now, it is necessary to go places where light does not get in the way so much.
So why is Idaho ideal for stargazing? There are two major reasons. It is one of the least populous states in the country, which means fewer and farther between cities and towns. There are lots of places that are not far away, even if you live in the Treasure Valley, that are ideal to see constellations and our own arm of the Milky Way more clearly than you can believe. Idaho is also home to the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, which is a place dedicated to the removal of artificial lighting and the prevention of new additions of artificial lighting so that the sky in the area remains as dark as possible. Not only are lights discouraged within the bounds of the reserve, but the same principles are applied to the surrounding area so that light does not seep in from outside. It was chosen mostly because of the terrain which makes it difficult for further development, but regardless, it is a place that should remain ideal for stargazing. It exists thanks to the efforts of the International Dark-Sky Association, which is dedicated to creating similar areas all across the world. They recognize that it is important the people have a place where they can go and appreciate the stars.