Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's up? The sky. And rocks. Falling ones.

In our youth, each August, my sister and I would prepare for meteors. The Perseids look awesome where we live: There is little city light interference, we have a giant backyard, and our dock stretches a bit into the lake, and rests at a slant perfect for looking upward. We'd bundle up and put some serious mosquito spray on, grab a snack (for instance, a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bar) and head out into the dark. My sister being the astronomy expert, she'd point out where to look and why. Sometimes our Dad joined us, sometimes the cat. We'd talk or not talk, and count each meteor we saw, sometimes confirming them with each other--the bats swooping around were a little deceptive, as were the fireflies.
When it's clear, and the temperature is good, I sometimes find a quiet spot to look up when the Perseids peak. Last night was such an occasion. I went to one of the parking lots on campus and lay back across the hood of my car. I actually saw a meteor right when I got out, which surprised me. Number 4 was one of those that burn up right before your eyes. I also had the Great Blue Heron that hangs out on campus fly by about ten feet away! And lots of bats.
When I'd seen 5 meteors, I went in search of a darker spot. I drove around on 25 for a bit, went to the park, and then ended up right back where I'd started, one parking lot over, as being the darkest and safest place. By that time, there was lightning off to the east, so I had a combination show. The lightning was a bit distracting, though, so I prepared to go home, but then I thought, if I sit in my car and lie back, I might be able to see a few more, and sure enough, I did see a couple of good ones in my chosen swath of sky. The last one burned so brightly there was an after-streak.
Meteor-hunting is the ultimate game of "just one more, just one more" with the sky. Just like at the fireworks, when a particularly great meteor pops up, I say, "Good job, sky." I suppose meteor-hunting requires patience, but I actually think time passes quickly. I went out just before 11, and before I knew it midnight arrived. The solitude and the silent waiting of the expanse of sky quiets my heart and my head. I do miss skywatching with my sister, though, just one of those sisterly things that made summers great.


Anonymous said...

Awh...miss you, Sis! (And alas, it seems I've missed the peak of the Perseids. A bit of sleep before Nichol's 2:30 am feeding sounded more appealing this year.)


Abs said...

I'm sorry you missed the Perseids peak...the great thing about that show is it is every year! Imagine how fun it will be to take Pea and Twinkle out for meteor watching!