Aug
12
2008

  Perseids Meteor Shower

I stayed up late last night to watch the annual meteor showers. Around 2am I took my sleeping bag and a pillow outside, set my chaise to flat and settled in looking up at the stars.

Within minutes I had already counted ten shooting stars, so I stopped counting, I knew it would be a good show. The night was extremely clear, I could see even the tiny stars and the cloudy parts of the galaxy. And the meteorites were shooting all over the place. I could look in any direction and see them, so that was convenient.

I only saw white ones this year. In previous years, I've seen red, green, and blue shooting stars, those are really cool. But there were some impressive white ones this year. I like the ones with big sparkly trails, like silent fireworks. The very fast ones are also fascinating, but I think I like the large ones better.

Seeing all the meteorites burn up in the sky made me feel very safe lying outside in the open air. Like nothing could fall on me and crush me, since anything would burn up in the atmosphere before it got anywhere near me. In retrospect, I guess I should have felt just safe from space debris, since airplane bits, etc. could still fall on me if I was unlucky. But that didn't occur to me last night.

I also noticed that every time I saw a new shooting star that an involuntary smile crept over my face. I didn't mean to be grinning like a fool alone in the dark, but I couldn't help myself. I think meteorites are just delightful, and I look forward to these showers every year.

On many nights, if I'm out looking at the stars, I'll see a few shooting stars on just any old day. But it is especially fun when they're practically non-stop. I fell asleep outside, and woke up briefly probably sometime after 3am and watched some more since they were still going strong.

But when I woke again around 5:30am, I watched for about 10 minutes, but didn't see any. The constellation Cassiopeia was directly overhead at that point, and although it was dark enough to see many stars (far more than the usual six) in the Pleiades constellation, the sky was still significantly brighter than it was at 2am, due to the approaching sunrise.

I felt bad for everyone who was on the "Outdoor Social Adventure Club" or whatever that group is here in Cville. Several people I knew were talking about leaving at 4:30am to go out to skyline drive to view the showers, stay through sunrise, then be back in Cville by 7:30am. They probably wouldn't have gotten to skyline drive until around 5:30am, and from my observation there wasn't much to see then. Hopefully they took advantage and looked out the car windows on the drive out there, although I don't know how the car headlights would affect their ability to discern the meteorites. I feared they would miss the showers and invited them to just come out to the farm instead (about 30 minutes closer to Cville than Skyline Drive), but they had their plans and their group thing. I'll have to ask them how it was, I guess it could be slightly darker out at Skyline drive than it is here on the farm, so maybe they got a better show than I imagine.