Outer Banks and The Milky Way

We gazed dreamily at the Milky Way and once in a while caught some shooting stars. Times like those gave me the opportunity to wonder and ask all those very basic questions. That sense of awe for the heavens started there. –Kalpana Chawla

Our first evening was drenched in the rain and ended up in a fun-filled game night. Our next morning was full of delightful experiences and its accounts can be found here. Next evening we took a sunset ferry to Ocracoke Island. The darkness rating of the island is 98%, which is amazing for astrophotographers and stargazers. The timing of the ferry was planned such that we would be able to see the sunset from the ferry and it was mesmerizing. The ferry ride was a pleasing 45 minutes. As soon as we docked, we drove to a restaurant called Oyster Co. Bar. There were not many good dining options as it is a pretty small island, but the place we chose was good. One of the important things to keep in mind is to bring an insect repellant with you. You won’t be able to survive without it.

Sunset from the ferry

We were done with our dinner by 10 p.m. and right afterward we went to a campsite to look at the milky way. Many photographers were bunking there with there tripods and cameras. One thing that I realized at that moment was that we should always carry a red light when we want to visit dark areas as red light gives us visibility and does not disturb the composition of the photo for the photographers. As it was early in the night and the Milkyway was just starting to rise above the horizon, some city lights and clouds at the horizon obstructed our view. Another trouble during that night was that the last ferry back to our place i.e., Hatteras Island, was going to leave at 12 a.m. So if we had decided to wait for the city lights to die and Milkyway to become visible, we would have missed our ferry and would have to spend our night stranded at Ocracoke Island. The next ferry was at 5 a.m. in the morning.

After the vain effort of seeing the milky way at Ocracoke, we decided to try our luck on a beach on Hatteras Island secluded from the city lights. We ended up at the beach next to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (pictured below). However, our view was still getting obstructed from the lighthouse’s light. So we applied some physics and went right below the light source, the tower beam in this case, as it would be much darker at its feet. Despite all these attempts, we only had a glimpse of the Milkyway.

Not satisfied we the result, few of us who still had some energy left, decided to continue with the quest for Milkyway and went to the beach that we had visited earlier that morning. Finally, we were able to see the Milkyway. It was unique, flamboyant and I just could not move my eyes from it. I kept on gazing at it for good 15-20 min. I felt so atomic at that moment. A sudden realization hit me that the universe is so vast, and nothing mattered to me for a few seconds, neither search for a job, nor people around me, and not even me. I wish I could lay on that beach for hours and just stare at that sky. However, I could not have done that as there were ghost crabs and other bugs on the beach and the fact that we had nothing to lay on.

I think these short adventures of seeking out excitement and learning about nature and what it has to offer us might still keep my sanity intact for a long long time.

Happy Travelling!!

All the images are the copyright of @shutterbae

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