Saturday, August 05, 2006

The beauty of Perseid

I love watching the stars. Since I was a kid they have fascinated me. I remember the exact time in my life when that fascination started. At 3:30 am the morning of my 12th birthday my parents woke me up and told me to get dressed and come outside with them. They spread a blanket on the ground and we laid down and stared up at the stars. I asked them what we were doing and they told me to just watch the sky. One minute later a huge shooting star streaked across the sky. It was so amazing. I had never seen a shooting star before. The thing that confused me was how my parents had known that it was going to happen at that exact monet. I sat up to go inside while asking them that question.They told me to lay down b/c there would be more. No sooner had I laid back down when two more shooting stars streaked in unison across both sides of the sky. Over the course of the next hour we must have seen 30 or 40 more. My parents said they had heard on the news the night before that it was going to happen and they thought it would be a cool birthday present for me.

When I became an adult I learned that this phenomenon was called the Perseid Meteor Shower. It is something that happens every year between August 11th and the 13th; the peak between 2 and 4 am in the morning of the 12th. In addition to seeing a possible 60-80 shooting stars an hour (the rest of the year has an average of 5-10,) if it's clear enough the Milky Way becomes visible and the amazing Aurora Borealis fills the sky with color. It makes for one beautiful and memorable night.

Over the years, I always invited friends to watch the Perseid shower with me. Unfortunately it wasn't always a good show. Clouds, storms, and fog have messed with the view on many occasions. There have been about 5 great years out of the last 15. But I am excited b/c the forecast this year looks really good for the night to be a success.

As an added bonus, during August this year Mars will be the closest to Earth it's been in the last 5000 years. One report says it will be as bright and big as the full moon. I'll have to see that to believe it, but even if that fact turns out to be not-so-accurate, it will still be a sight to behold. So make sure you take some time this month to gaze into the night sky. You won't be disappointed.


Blogger GUYK said...

Thanks Sam. I'll make a note on the PC so I won't forget it.

5:22 PM  

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