Still image from The City Dark
The filmmaker’s childhood home in Maine (Credit: Wicked Delicate Films LLC)

Ian Cheney’s The City Dark premiered on POV last week, providing a fascinating and poetic introduction to the science of the dark and an exploration of our relationship to the stars.

The film has prompted viewers to share their own stories about the night sky. Below are some of their comments, compiled from Facebook and The City Dark‘s film companion site:

In 1980, I took a flight from Austin, Tex. to Abilene, Tex. on Christmas Eve…We took off, and one by one, the lights were turned off by the passengers until one nervous passenger remained, lights on, window shade up. I leaned over and told him that if he turned off his light, and looked out, the cabin would be almost completely dark and he would see something wondrous. He did. As he and I, and the rest of the passengers, flew through the darkness, there were places heading to West Texas where the lights on the ground receded and the height of the plane drew the sky down. For the hours as we flew, once the lights were off, the plane was silent as the each contemplated the night. It is one of my precious memories…
Jim Tom Polk

Many years ago, we received a twenty year old Japanese student billet for two weeks. She arrived late and we gave her the quick tour around the house including the back deck. The look on her face suggested a serious cultural conflict. The next morning after a long conversation on how things were going so far, it came out that the monster blitz of stars that can be viewed from our house had never been seen before. Even though she lived forty minutes by bullet train from Tokyo, the gummy stars could only be seen only twice a year at Christmas and New Years if the weather was good. The stars came up again and again throughout the visit. So, yes, I think we all need a clear connection to the rest of the universe.

Great documentary! I remember my first awareness of the abundance of stars in the night sky being the Hayden Planetarium too. And when I was about 12, my family and I took a trip to southern Florida to visit friends and I gazed up in the dark sky outside of their house and was in awe at the number of stars I saw there! This film really leaves one pondering the various effects light pollution may have on life on Earth as a whole in ways I had never before contemplated.

Powerful…I remember driving a short way into the desert outside Phoenix and seeing millions of stars. That was in the 80s – can’t do that now. Colorado ski country, too…
Jo Redford (via Facebook)

One of the many quality of life reasons I stay away from the city-as-home. We must all steward life with this planet. The depth of observation required of us all to learn how this is done from Mother Nature, is a lifetime learning.
Kerrie B. Wrye (via Facebook)

Loved watching this last night! Too bad the show did not mention Alaska. We have the highest rates of cancer in the country, which may or may not be due to the disrupted Circadian rythym. I found the breast cancer angle of the story to be very intriguing. Also, I grew up never knowing the summer stars, so I sort of identified with the city kids not knowing their stars. It wasn’t until I was living in other parts of the country that I finally saw them, but I am still most fond of winter stars to this day.
Melissa Palmer (via Facebook)

AMAZING!…watched this as the deck sliders opened 2 reveal a black sky studded with diamonds….these beauties are center stage every night…the constellations/planets changing from stage left 2 Stage Center…spotlight on except when the clouds draw the curtain…lucky 2 live in a place where the beauty of the universe is on display~
Diane Sperlazzi (via Facebook)

If you haven’t seen it yet, The City Dark is now streaming free online — but only for a limited time!

After you’ve watched the film, join the conversation at, on Twitter @povdocs, or on Facebook, and share your own story about the starry (or not-so-starry…) night.

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POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.