The article reminded me of the Chinese legend of the Cowherd and Weaver, which is basically the Chinese version of Pyramus and Thisbe set against the backdrop of the Milky Way. When the Chinese looked skyward on a summer evening, they saw Vega and Altair positioned on either side of the great Milky Way as the celestial embodiment of these star-crossed lovers. Magpie Bridge is how they described the band of darkness that spans the celestial river of light flowing between them. Much as I admire the explanatory powers of modern astronomy, I find the ancient legend equally compelling in providing a way to comprehend the boundlessness of the summer sky at night.
As companion to the NY Times' article, here's my translation of Magpie Bridge, by the Song poet Qin Guan: