I was up at 3 a.m. this morning, dressed in my sweatshirt and old slacks, went to the beach to gaze at the shooting stars.
At that hour all is silent in my neighborhood. Not a peep from the wild turkeys or the birds in the trees. No cars on the roads. No walkers on the streets… just me and my little Honda heading for the shoreline and the chance to see a shooting star.
The beach was dark and the tide was out. Unfortunately there was a lot of ambient light from across the water. Great Island residents had left their porch lights on and the reflection on the water shimmered in a wide arc, making it a little difficult for my eyes to get accustomed to the darkness. “They who know” say you should find a spot for star gazing as far away from any light from porches, highways, etc. My location was not ideal.
I should have brought a chair so I could stare up at the heavens in comfort. But I forgot. I tried lying on a stone wall, but that was way too uncomfortable. Tried lying across the hood of the car, but my head kept hitting the windshield wipers. Finally I just leaned against the car and stared at the northern hemisphere above. And soon, STREAK! —my patience was rewarded. A shooting star! FLASH! A second one!!!! OOOhhhh! My lucky night.
Alas, my show was over. A thin layer of clouds moved in, obscuring the stars. It was just as well. My neck was beginning to hurt and I really needed to get back to bed.
But there is still hope. The sky show continues tonight. In fact, astronomers predict tonight will be even “more better” for shooting star watchers. I will take myself to another beach, one that is at the end of the peninsula, facing out to sea and away from any nearby light. And this time I will bring a blanket to lie on the sand to therefore gaze aloft in comfort.
If you have yet to go star gazing during this year’s Perseid meteor shower, you should head out and take advantage of this once in a year event. Next year, the full moon will be high in the sky during early August, so it will be hard to see any stars that streak across the skies. So get out there people and gaze in wonder.
Will report back.