These days we have so much street lighting that the stars are blocked out, and cities are easily seen from space. That wasn't the case a few centuries ago. Flyers in the middle ages (witches on broomsticks) would have a nice view of the stars - but would they be able to navigate by eyesight?
I am presuming they would have an easy time when there's moonlight. And on a night with no moon (or a new moon), it may not be pitch black (thanks to sources like zodiacal light) but identifying features on the ground may be problematic, from an airborne perspective. Even in populated places, people did not just light torches 24/7.
My question from two years ago is about cities. Time to cover the countryside! Taking the following:
- 14th century central Europe.
- Witches routinely flying on brooms from town to town.
- They fly exclusively at nighttime (sunlight cancels their magic; an untimely sunrise drops them out of the sky).
- The moon might be unavailable, either because it is new moon (few nights a month), the moon is below the horizon, or there's cloud cover.
- The witches fly below the clouds, at about 500 meters altitude. They can ascend to 2km or descend when needed, but they must obviously not be seen. Their cruising speed is 50 km/h.
- There's no spells to improve night vision; they have regular human eyes.
- They don't fly when it is extremely misty.
- The witches may not always personally know the route well, but they can produce their own maps if needed.
Do they absolutely need some sort of ground infrastructure of their own (always-burning torches, etc.) to navigate, let's say from Prague to Passau? Or are there enough natural or man-made features in the medieval countryside that one can see in the darkest nights? I am personally disinclined to give them ground infrastructure but also to have regular witch downtime once a month.
I have considered that rivers and brooks reflecting the stars might do, but I am not sure. The hardest part for me in this light-polluted country I'm living in is to just picture how dark such a night would be, which long-exposure photographs cannot accurately capture.