“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh The air is getting cold and crisp and the days are getting shorter. It is harder to spend time playing outside without the warm sun, but there are still many reasons to go outside and enjoy your outdoor living space. Did you know that spending time with nature is associated with a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate and sympathetic nerve activity? Just stepping outside and taking a deep breath can improve your health and overall well-being. While the health issues alone are a perfect reason to spend time in your outdoor living space, another reason to get outside is to see the stars! They twinkle in the night and are the perfect way to end your day. There is nothing like sitting around the fire in your outdoor patio with family and friends enjoying the night time brilliance of the stars in the sky. Thousands of years ago ancient civilizations looked up in the sky noticing the stars. They were pinpoints of light that seemed to slowly rotate around the earth. Stars have played an important role in navigation and were a part of religious ceremonies during that time. We know that our Milky Way galaxy contains between 200 and 400 billion stars with some of them being 100 million light-years away. That is hard to even imagine, but astronomers continue to find new and different galaxies. When you look up in the sky, the stars twinkle and dance, slowly moving from evening to evening. But with so many constellations in the sky you have a great opportunity to find them and learn more about each one. Photo Credit: Starry Night Software/A. Fazekas For example, one of the easier constellations to find is the Big Dipper, it is a fixture in the northern sky. (The Big Dipper is not its own constellation but an asterism.) It also makes up part of the constellation of Ursa Major (The Big Bear). The Little Dipper is part of the constellation of Ursa Minor (The Little Bear) and Polaris, the North Star, is at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper. *There are many great websites and books that have constellations listed and tips on how to find them in the night sky. If you spend some time looking up at the sky you can find many more constellations. And it would be a great way to spend time with your family enjoying the night air in your outdoor living space. Don’t forget to make a wish on a shooting star!