When you look up, familiar, crystalline winter ornaments like Orion and the Pleiades appear, while auroras may offer the sensation, sometimes for several hours, of sailing across a phosphorescent sea. To reclaim a phrase from “Game of Thrones” — a show, ahem, that hasn’t exactly burnished winter’s reputation — the night is long and full of wonders. In contrast, pilots may greet the sunrise in the cockpit with a matching glare, and an inevitable “Star Trek” joke — “shields up!” — as we reach for our Ray-Bans and a phalanx of swiveling sun visors.
I went camping with some friends once along the California seashore. We snuck out onto the beach after sunset, and I was greeted with one of the crispest views of Orion that I'd ever seen, slowly dropping into the Pacific.