14 August 2007

Clear sky at last

I had just changed into my pajamas, a t-shirt and boxers, when I remembered the Perseids. The night before, I'd gone out to look twice, but both times clouds covered essentially all of the visible sky from my back porch.

It was just after 2 AM, but I really wasn't tired, so I put on a heavy work shirt and some scuffs and went out on the deck. The sky was clear and full of stars. The air was cool, but I didn't feel cold; it was refreshing.

I sat on an uncomfortable bench, resolving to set up a lounge chair next time, and stared upwards, waiting patiently. After about five minutes, a meteor burned brightly across the sky. That's what I'm looking for, I thought to myself. It had been a really long time since I'd seen a meteor shower. Bad weather, city lights, off time zones, obscured views, and sometimes forgetting to look had all contributed to the hiatus.

A small short streak following a different trajectory appeared and vanished. And then another. When I'd seen five, I thought, I'll go in after seven. Then there were two quick small streaks at the same time. Nine. I'll just wait until I've seen nine. Or maybe ten. But I wanted to end on an odd number.

Between 2:05 and 2:40, I saw eleven; the first was the brightest and longest, enough to reawaken awe in the universe.

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