Friday, August 13, 2010

Looking Up To Falling Stars

I broke my own rule yesterday and didn't get anything at all written. In my defense, however, I was feeling pretty rough and there was a celestial light show that required my immediate and undivided attention beginning at about 9 p.m. last night.

Didn't see it, did you?

Last night was a rare conjunction of the Moon and four planets, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Mercury. A conjunction occurs when two or more heavenly bodies are in the same patch of sky. Last night it was five. Since we couldn't see it from our house because of the trees Bethany and I drove through Clifton. Turns out that the drive through town is mostly west and had a near perfect view. The Moon was a thin crescent and there two faint pinpoints of light (Saturn & Mars) above it and one very bright (Venus) dot of light. It was really beautiful. If you missed it, you missed a great show.

Last night, well last night and early this morning, was also the peak of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. About this time every year the Earth moves through a band of debris left behind by the Swift Tuttle asteroid (I believe it was an asteroid) that broke up a long time ago. The belt of debris is pretty wide and the Earth careens through it every year, resulting in a pretty spectacular meteor shower. It's called the Perseid shower because the meteors appear to come from the constellation Perseus. No matter which direction that they streak across the sky, the tails of the meteors always point back to the radiant point, which is located in the Perseus constellation.

Bethany and I drug the hammock around to the darkest spot we could find in the yard and laid back and looked up at the night sky for nearly two hours. We had no sooner pulled the hammock into position than we saw one of the best meteors I've ever seen streak across our entire field of vision. It was followed up by dozens more in probably the best shower I've seen to date.

So, no, I didn't get any writing in at all yesterday. But it was worth missing.

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