Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Heads Up: Perseid Meteor Shower

I haven't had a terrific meteor shower experience in a while. Why? Cause the urban development in the Miami area has resulted in hideous light pollution.

I remember when I could take my rinky-dink, beloved Tasco telescope out as an adolescent and see details on Jupiter, on Saturn, on the moon. I have wonderful memories of lying back on a blanket or inflated pool raft on the grass or on a lounge chair, just to watch the meteors rush by through the hot, tropical night sky.

Bits of comet, raining down, blazing, swift, breathtaking

Did you know that? What you see as a meteor in a Perseid Shower is debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which won't return in our lifetime. I was fortunate to catch it in 1992--and write an English creative non-fiction piece on it, which, sadly, I've long misplaced. I connect it with the smell of night jasmine, which was thick in the air when I first saw Swift-Tuttle through my husband's binoculars.

But small bits remain. And they put on a jasmine-haunted show every year.

It's been many years since I could enjoy a meteor shower from my yard. The ever-paling, gray night sky over Miami hides a lot of stars and heavenly delights.

And I'm too mosquito and alligator averse to venture to the Everglades for some darker skies.

But, in case YOU are lucky enough to live somewhere with still-darkish skies, mark your calendar. The Perseids Shower--one of the best meteor showers of the year, if not the best--is this week. Unfortunately, the moon is bright this go-round. But still, even with obscuring moonshine, the expectation is 30 visible meteors per hour.

Hie thee here for more info. Buy an issue of Sky and Telesccope for their cool sky charts and sky-events calendar. Call your local astronomy club and see if they have a meteor party planned.

Have fun. I hope you see a fireball you'll remember for years.

"If people sat outside
and looked at the stars each night,
I'll bet they'd live a lot differently."
— Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

1 comment:

Deanna said...

Our light pollution's probably not as bad as yours, in that my family and I can go out back and peer skyward to take in a faint meteor line or two. For a while when my parents lived in farm country we enjoyed the August Perseids, sitting in lawn chairs.

The summer Mars came so close, we were invited to some friends' farm and saw meteors out there, too. If you're in Oregon some year, I'm sure we could get another star-gazing invite, and you would be welcome to join us.