Saturday, August 13, 2011

Perseid Shower

Last night was our annual meteor shower that seems to originate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky. The meteors are remnants left behind during the passage of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which has a period of 130 years.
I woke up this morning,at 2AM. Remembering the shower I slid into my flip flops and flopped into the yard. The moon was full and amazingly bright. I cast a shadow on the ground as bright as any sunny day. The whole world seemed to be covered in a warm soft blanket that invited repose and thanksgiving. The blacks and greys of the tree shadows on the ground and against the sky made lace edgings everywhere. There were sleepy sounds of insects making only half-hearted cries; some I could identify, some not. The cicadas are mostly gone now. I have been finding their dead winged bodies about in the grass lately.
I thought about the owls that I sometimes hear in the evening and wished I could see one on its silent supper mission. The quiet pervaded everything. I imagined the wildlife waiting patiently in the shadows. There were no calls, coyote or bird, cow, dog, auto or train. The world was at rest.
The sky was somewhat hazy, but a few of the brightest stars shone through. The moon  made meteor viewing all but impossible for an impatient one like me. Anyway, it is best to lie down to watch so you won't get a crick in your neck, and I was not prepared for that. Star gazing is best done with a companion, and my star gazing companion is away now. Maybe when the Geminids come in December...

Even though I did not see any meteors, I am not sorry I got up. The night was as beautiful as any I have ever seen. And the memory of the night will linger much longer than the spark of a meteor, which is something else altogether.
I did find a way online to hear a meteor. Tune an FM radio to a frequency not used locally and listen for the pings that indicate a passing meteor. See the reference here.

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