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Well, it is and it isn't. From Atlanta, where you can see about 150 stars in the night sky on a clear, moonless night, its about a three and half hour drive to the location where this photo was taken.
And, it's not a hard drive. You can get there mostly by interstate highway. Or, you can alter your route, as I do, and take State highways about half of thee way. This second route takes you through the Pisgah National Forest with beautiful woods, near roadside streams and waterfalls and through dozens of hairpin turns that will test out your four wheel drive.
When you arrive you will also find a welcoming place to stay at the Pisgah Inn, nestled by itself next to the Parkway with a good restaurant and a million dollar view. The picture below shows the view from my room.
That's the near perspective.
In another sense, your three and half hour drive will take you billions of miles away. At least, if you venture out at night away from the lights of the Inn and look up and to the South and East. Then you will see our Milky Way stretched from horizon to horizon. The picture above shows the view early one morning in April from the first overlook south of the Pisgah Inn.
How far are you seeing when you look above?
The distance from our earth to the center of the Milky Way is about 8 kpc (kilo parsecs) or 166,000,000,000,000,000 miles (26,000 light years). Or, to think of it another way, when you look at the Milky Way you are seeing light generated more than 25,000 years ago. The Voyager spacecraft, which is traveling away from the Earth at a speed of about 10.7 miles per second, will take more than 450,000,000 years to get there.
Would you like to look back tens of thousands of years or just see the sky the way our predecessors did before we lit our cities and towns to the point of washing out our local views of the sky? The "boldly go" and take a trip to the Parkway to see the stars.
Photos by Kayak copyright Clinton Richardson. See more night sky images at the Night Lights Gallery of our TrekPic.com web site.
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The venture moola blog comes to you from Atlanta, Georgia. Find it at readjanus.com. Copyright Clinton Richardson.
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