Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Meteors and Memories

Last night I finally got to watch the Perseid meteor showers.  I say "finally" because the previous nights this year were cloudy, and last year it rained the whole time.  But last night was perfect.  A clear sky with no moon.

About half an hour after midnight I turned off all the house lights to avoid light pollution in the yard, then took a sleeping bag and a pillow outside and lay down on the front lawn.  (My wife originally wanted to go, too, but was too tired when the time came, so she wished me well and went back to sleep.)  I was soon joined by two of my cats, who came up from hunting rodents by the chicken coop to sit on me and purr.

I did not have to wait long to see a meteor.  I counted 23 in an hour, several of them big bright streaks, but none to compare with the fireball my wife and I saw several years ago.  But even with the excitement of seeing a meteor, it was still a slow, quiet activity, with a lot of waiting between sightings.  You can't push nature, you just have to go with her pace of things.  As I lay there waiting for the next one to streak across the sky, I was reminded of when we did this at summer camp many years ago. It was a pleasant time to reminisce.

I also saw what was probably a satellite moving across the sky -- or was it maybe the space station?  I remember back in the late 50s and early 60s, when satellites were a new thing, there used to be schedules in the paper about when they would pass over.  My father and I would go out in the yard to try and spot them.  It was a big deal back then to spot a passing satellite -- way before GPS and satellite TV, long before anybody felt a need to "unplug" because nobody was as plugged in and speeded-up like today.  What we watched were just little orbiting balls reflecting the sun, the very beginnings of space flight.

The night was chilly and getting downright cold -- unusual for mid-August here, but welcome, because there were no mosquitoes.  The ground was getting damp though, and my old bones were feeling the lumps in the ground.  so after another half hour, around 2am, I went inside and called it a night.


Laurie said...

I am still waiting to see this, but living in Southern California near the ocean makes for cloudy onshore skies, not to mention the light pollution from this populated area. Maybe the desert next time!

Loved that your cats shared the experience!

Yonassan Gershom said...

We are very lucky to live in a place where we do get to see a clear starry sky. On a clear night the Milky Way is visible.

And speaking of astronomy, put this on your calendar: August 21, 2017 we will have a solar eclipse across the USA! This NASA site show the path: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2017Aug21Tgoogle.html. Looks like it wll be a partial here in MN, but still something to look forward to:)