13 August 2015

Perseids

A little bit after midnight, I put on my shoes and grabbed my black fuzzy hoodie. I turned on the hall/stairwell light and headed downstairs. Two nightlights on the main floor were sufficient for me to navigate to the back door.

I put my hoodie on and stepped out onto the deck in the cool night air. It felt really nice. I was mindful of chairs but tripped a bit on the doormat set beyond the swing of the storm door. I caught myself before truly stumbling and proceeded more cautiously in the dark to the railing. I'd moved an umbrella earlier to block the light from the street lamp.

I leaned back on the rail and looked up.

For once, the sky looked clear, the stars shining brightly.

I interlaced my fingers behind my neck and waited. There's not a lot of sky to be seen from the yard due to surrounding trees, but I was determined to make an effort.

Zoooom! A brief bright flash made a short streak across the sky. My first Perseid.

Then another.

My view was aimed mostly up but directed Northward. I spotted the constellation Cassiopeia which I learned this year is next to Perseus (one I don't know). One article I read said the Perseids come from between the two constellations.

It didn't seem to matter though because they were shooting across all parts of the sky I could see and in varied directions.

Seeing shooting stars is addictive. First I said I'd go in after I saw 20, then 25, then just one more big one... Faint clouds passed by and then a thicker one started obscuring the stars. I was about to pack it in but then the sky was clear again. 30, just one more big one.

They seemed to be occurring less frequently. I inhaled 4 counts, held 2, exhaled 4 counts, held 2, and then repeated the sequence. My breathing wasn't properly meditative though because I was still very much focused on seeing more streaks of light across the night sky. Or maybe it was very meditative, I don't know. I was just waiting.

All told I saw no less than 36 meteors, 4 pretty big, and 1 firefly.

Every couple of steps towards the house, I'd look up again, just in case.

Once inside, I checked a digital clock in the kitchen. It was 1:15 AM. I'd been outside about an hour.

My eyes were thoroughly adjusted to the dark so I made my way with no difficulty. When I reached the stairs, the light was still on and it was blinding. Next time I'll try to remember to shut that one off.

It's a great year for the Perseid meteor shower since we're close to a new moon and the moon doesn't rise until early in the morning anyway. If you missed the peak last night, fret not! You can still go out to see them in the next few days but the longer you wait, the fewer you'll see per hour. The next moonless Perseids won't occur until 2018, so get out and see 'em this year!


A year ago on TTaT: Coot Club

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