Rain fell in torrents around supper time last night. So we thought the sky would be totally obscured throughout the evening, but we were wrong. By 10 o'clock the storm clouds had moved on, leaving a vast array of sparkling stars overhead. The Milky Way stretched across the heavens from one end to the other.
Bill & Lida invited me to their yard to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower, an annual celestial event that peaks around August 12. As earth passes through debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet tiny particles (most about the size of a grain of sand, and traveling 50 times as fast as an automobile on the Interstate) bombard the atmosphere and streak through the sky as they burn and disintegrate.
In an hour's time we saw several dozen "shooting stars," a few spectacular enough to elicit simultaneous expressions of wonder and awe.
Ocracoke Island must be one of the best places to view meteor showers (we don't have much light polution, after all), but shooting stars should be visible throughout the country for several more days. It is well worth your time to find a place away from city lights (maybe in your own back yard), and sit quietly for an hour tonight and just gaze up into the night sky. With or without shooting stars it is spectacular.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the 1913 wreck of the 6-masted schooner, George W. Wells. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news072110.htm.