Friday, August 13, 2010

Shooting Stars

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:


  1. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Venus, Mars and Saturn were showing together in the southern sky...just a sliver of the moon early in the night and distant lightening flashed as shooting stars streaked across the milky way. Wow. Whatanight, whataplace.

  2. Anonymous8:31 AM

    I like many have attempted through the years to be mindful of this annual event. I dutifully remind co-workers of the event and often they respond "oh i was asleep," -it occurs over a few days I counter . It marks to me, the end of a season-- summer past times are winding down, those with children switch gears to a school schedule. It makes the headline of a recent news journal publication come to mind the -- The case against summer vacation. On the cover is a silhouette of a young boy skimming rocks from a river bank. What would the case against summer vacation be? could it be this nonsense children forget what they learn be argued well maybe they didn't learn anything in the first place ? perhaps the lessons were not put to use -- no time to apply what the have learned -- no summer lemonade stand to learn customer service -- no paper route to develop mapping skills what is your case for a summer vacation ??