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The Best of the Bay ~ Every Week Since 1993
Volume 16, Issue 6 - February 7 - February 13, 2008

A Picnic Under the Stars

Pack up and head out

With our unseasonably mild weather, the stars and planets beckon for more than a cursory look toward the heavens early in the morning as you retrieve your newspaper or after work as you unload the car. Not only are nights longer, but dry winter air provides crisp, clear views of the heavens.

Like many treasures, the rewards of star-gazing increase with the time you invest. Even away from city lights, your eyes need up to a half-hour to adjust to true darkness before the details of the sky emerge, engulfing you in a sea of stars. Often, the longer you look, the more mesmerizing the view becomes.

So although star-gazing is sedentary, the long night demands sustenance in any season.

A thermos of coffee or hot chocolate helps to ease the chill, while the caffeine or chocolate helps lift your spirits. In warmer weather, or with youngsters on hand, consider serving Tang, the drink of astronauts. On the other hand, spirits, beer or wine might put the party in your star party, but too much will impair your vision, bring on the shivers and possibly turn your nighttime vigil into a nap.

Fend off the grogs with foods high in energy, like nuts, fresh fruits or cheese and crackers. Grain-derived snacks or cold sandwiches with hearty bread are good choices for your sky party and a fitting tribute to the great constellation Virgo, whose bright star Spica represents an ear of wheat.

A star party should not be confused with a tailgate, as even the flame from a grill or campfire will spoil your night vision. If you’re putting on a spread for a crowd of sky watchers, prepare or buy your food ahead of time.


Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2007 Pacific Publishers. Reprinted by permission from the Tidelog graphic almanac. Bound copies of the annual Tidelog for Chesapeake Bay are $14.95 ppd. from Pacific Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924. Phone 415-868-2909. Weather affects tides. This information is believed to be reliable but no guarantee of accuracy is made by Bay Weekly or Pacific Publishers. The actual layout of Tidelog differs from that used in Bay Weekly. Tidelog graphics are repositioned to reflect Bay Weekly’s distribution cycle.Tides are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are positioned to coincide with high and low tides of Tidelog.

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