Magical Bright Nights The Perfect Clothes for Stargazing!

Saturday, 23 November 2019  |  Kate

Plenty of our customers love alternative events and celebrations, adore alternative clothing and enjoy alternative lifestyles. They love nature, they're Pagan, and plenty of them stargaze, losing themselves in the ancient magic of the night skies. But at the same time 99% of people in Europe never see the stars thanks to light pollution.

When you live in or near a city or town, even in a village, the stars are hard to see. After dark the sky goes mucky orange or dirty brown, and the mysteries of the universe remain exactly that – mysterious! It's a shame, because it means millions of us miss out on on of the most remarkable, magical night-time phenomenon you're ever likely to see. Have you ever experienced a 'Bright Night'? Read on to find out more.

Every night is different

As countryside-dwellers know, there's no such thing as an ordinary night. Some are absolutely pitch black, where you can't see more than a few feet ahead of you. Others are quite light, where you can see more, and further, than you might expect. And there's everything in between – the light on no two nights is ever the same. Best of all, a few of them are Bright Nights, and they're about as weird and eerie as it gets.

What does a 'Bright Night' look like?

On a Bright Night there might or might not be a moon. There may or may not be any clouds. But the light is quite extraordinary. The land is lit up with a ghostly, silver glow that almost seems to come from the ground, not the sky. You can see for miles, see faraway objects in fine detail, and dramatic shadows are cast across the land. If you're high up you'll be able to see the landscape laid out for you in silvery monochrome, as far as the horizon. The effect is like daylight... but it's night.

On an ordinary moonlit night, however bright, the landscape remains velvety-dark under trees and in woods and forests. On moonlit Bright Nights the moon is no brighter than normal but we get this remarkable light that suffuses the landscape, clear and strong and non-directional. You can see just as clearly under the trees as you can on open land.  

The science behind Bright Nights

The earliest written description of Bright Nights dates back to Ancient Rome in AD77, when they were mentioned by the baffled army commander Pliny the Elder. In 1909 a Dutch student measured the total amount of starlight reaching the earth and discovered a discrepancy on Bright Nights. He called the phenomenon ‘earthlight’.

John Barentine from the International Dark-Sky Association found a clue in some 19th century papers describing it as luminous smog. But it wasn't until the 1980s that Gordon Shepherd of York University in Toronto built a satellite-like machine to monitor mysterious air waves as they pass through our planet's atmosphere. They apparently pile up to create massive towers of pressurised air, and this affects the light.

He also found that UV radiation from the sun breaks molecular oxygen into individual atoms, which then join back up after sunset. The resulting ‘airglow’ we see varies dramatically from night to night, place to place. Add air waves to air glow and you get a higher concentration of oxygen and an intense glow, which explains Bright Nights.

Even an ordinary clear, starry night is quite something, an amazing sight once you escape from the city's polluting glow. And there are some brilliant stargazing apps around. One of the best is SkySafari, simply because it plays really lovely mellow electronic music in the background while you hold up your phone and point it at the sky, adding to the atmosphere.

The best clothing to wear for stargazing and Bright Nights?

Autumn, Winter and Spring offer the best times to stargaze, which is why it's called the 'observing season'. It corresponds with the times when clocks go back in October to the time they go forward again in March, and it makes sense, if you're going to be outdoors for a while, to stay snug. Our winter coats and jackets make the perfect stargazing gear as well as lending style to your night sky discovery sessions. Here are three of the best from our collection:

This super-cool winter jacket has a look of a biker jacket about it thanks to its two-tone coolness, a blend of pure white corduroy and embroidered canvas cotton. There's also a petrol blue version. It's fully lined for comfy late nights spent stargazing, lovely and snuggly, and the shawl collar means it's perfect for keeping your neck warm while you wander around the countryside having your mind blown by your very first Bright Night.

Do you like your alternative clothing colourful but not too bright? If so this is an awesome choice as well as superbly warm. It's lined with soft fleece for extra heat, the hood keeps the chill away and also folds down to provide a wide, warm collar. But the beautiful patterns and colour scheme are the star of the show, masses of vibrant patterns in vivid red and black and grey.

If it's a reasonably warm night and you want to blend in with the natural world, try this. It's a flattering lace and cotton pixie hooded jacket smothered with lace panels and patchwork in a series of natural greens and browns. Bell sleeves, two pockets and a front zip complete the picture. It's also really flattering, a great way to enhance your shape.

Warm doesn't mean a yawn in our world! We believe warm clothing doesn't have to be boring clothing. Grab some stunning alternative clothes, make your way to a rural area, and acquaint yourselves with the stars as our ancient ancestors did. It's time to blow your mind!

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