The Urban Skywatcher is an astronomy blog by Rex Babiera. It began as a question: What can I really see in the night sky from my home in Chicago?

I grew up in a minor city in southern Virginia. The skies weren’t completely dark at our house; a city of 50,000 still makes a lot of light at night. But I didn’t have to travel far—to friends’ houses in the county, for example—to get to the kind of night sky that fills a kid with wonder about what’s out there in the universe.

Another shot #FromSpace Although it was a beautiful night in ... on Twitpic
Shot by @Astro_Ron from the International Space Station

Now that I am fully a city man, I wondered if it would still be possible to feel the mysteries of the night sky in a region where over 8 million people and their lights live. A recent photo of our metro area taken from the International Space Station struck me with awe. [hat tip, Gapers Block] What if we could feel even a small amount of that awe by looking up from Chicago instead of looking down on it?

I think we can. And I hope that I and my fellow city dwellers pay a little more attention to what the night sky reveals (and what it doesn’t). While it will never be the dark sky of my youth, the universe is still out there; we just have to look a little harder to find it.