Stargazing is one of nature’s most concrete reminders that even at times of darkness, light persists. Discover a plethora of reasons why you should always look up
Stargazing sessions are on the rise as a new form of mindful meditation – helping people to relieve stress and find mental silence in all things astral. There are many proven benefits to taking a ‘star bath’, research says. It ranges from merely taking a break from our busy lifestyles and finding a moment of calm, to providing a different perspective on our lives. We all know the benefits of becoming at one with nature and taking a break every now and then, and stargazing is no different. So, let’s dive into the many benefits stargazing provides for our health and wellbeing. Houston, we have lift-off!
Because of the finite speed of light, when you gaze up into the night sky, you are looking into the past.
1. Stargazing makes you kinder
Gazing at the stars could make you a nicer person, a study suggests. And that’s because it helps us feel “diminished in the presence of something greater than oneself.” When we look up at the night sky, we realise how insignificant we – and our problems – are. Connecting with the innate power of the dark and unfathomably vast sky invigorates us and helps us remember that there's a much bigger picture going on beyond our busy lives. We feel small and experience a sense of awe when looking at the stars, and this sense of wonder promotes altruistic, helpful and positive social behaviour. “By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others.”, said lead researcher, Dr Paul Piff.
2. Stargazing slows you down
When you look up at the stars, you’re entirely in the moment, slowly drifting off into a meditative state where things around you start to fade into the background; bringing you enlightenment, peace and a sense of awe. It's like you're freed from all distracting thoughts, obligations and expectations when you contemplate the cosmos. There's nothing to do but stop, watch and reflect – which has plenty of benefits for our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
3. Stargazing is a stress reliever
"The night sky is therapy," says Ottawa astronomy educator Gary Boyle. Another 2014 study suggested those who stargaze feel more connected to nature. It brings an inexplicable calmness to your mind and body. Whatever your struggles might be, as soon as you look to the stars, a lot of this weight will fall to the wayside, and the tension in your mind and body will start to loosen.
4. Stargazing boosts your creativity
We’ve all had some of our best ideas in the shower, just before we drift off to sleep at night, or even behind the wheel when we’re stuck in a traffic jam. This is down to your conscious mind quietening down and leaving room for your subconscious mind to step into play. Your subconscious is kind of your creative ideas factory, home to your innovative and playful spirit. Looking up at the sky – totally being in the moment – brings you that sense of enlightenment, peace and awe. Combined with an almost meditative state, this is when our imagination can roam free and go beyond the limitations our brain often imposes on our thoughts.
5. Stargazing can be social
If you want to meet people, why not book a stargazing class or head to a local astronomy evening? A simple Google will show you what’s happening in your area and it can be a fun way to meet new people and share the experience of surveying all the night’s sky has to show us.
Can’t wait to get started? All you need is a clear night sky, and you're good to go, it's that easy! The best time for stargazing is when there is no moon in the sky at all. This phase is called a New Moon. The moon reflects so much light that it makes it harder to see the stars properly. Dress warmly, sit or lie down comfortably and let your eyes adjust to your surroundings. The farther out from the city you are, the more stars you'll see, obviously, but there’s still plenty to see from your own urban backyard or balcony. You should let your eyes adjust for at least 30 minutes, that’s how long it takes for the chemical makeup in your eyes to adjust to the low light – don’t even look at your phone because that will completely reset the process. Use the time to lie back and relax. It’ll be worth it.