The New Mexico high plains: a mile high, no atmospheric moisture, no moon yet, no human lights for twenty miles, no cities for 200 miles and no visible air pollution. The Southwest offers the best star-gazing in the US.
Outside, at 8.00PM local time with no night vision, the things you can see from any city jump out. There's Venus high in the evening sky, the Navigator's Triangle overhead, Sagittarius the Teapot, the Chair of Cassiopeia, the Big Dipper and Polaris.
Night vision slowly fills in and the background clouds with so many stars that it becomes difficult to find these constellations. A wide cloudy swath of millions of faint stars glows from tens of thousands of light years distant.
Then the moon rises and its bright light dims the Milky Way once again. This is my first time to see it. How small we are. How transitory.
At 5.00am, Orion is up and the fire of Aniliam glows like a diamond to the brain from the center of the belt. It looks like Jupiter or Saturn is near the moon. My companion wanted to pack my telescope. I should listen to her more.