08 November 2005

Still Rainin'

Only this times it is rainin' meteors!

5:04 am: I'm just in from being bundled in my sleeping bag, flat on my back, on my chaise longue. I am the only one on the road who only sets one up in autumn and leaves it out all winter. I use it, of course, for star gazing, not sunbathing. Though around here sunbathing would turn rapidly into bloodletting, for all the blood sucking insects we have (blackflies and mosquitos most notably.)


Back to the stars. It is time for the Taurids. This shower occurs each year, when the Earth passes through the Taurid Meteor Complex, which is a huge stream of stuff orbiting in interplanetary space. There’s a theory out there of a ‘resonant meteoroid swarm’ (say that 10 times fast!) within the Taurid Complex. The theory essentially predicts that in certain years, the Earth is hit by a greater number (than in average years) of meteoroids capable of producing Taurid fireballs. 2005 is such a year. Oh, my.

This morning I woke up at 3:40 having a hot flash, (they are good for something!) and saw stars out my skylight. Clear! Being roasting hot, I seized the opportunity to get out of bed in the cold house (the fire had long since burned out), grab my sleeping bag, don a coat, lined jeans, and a hat. I took my red-lensed flashlight and headed out.

I counted a total of 24 meteors from about 4:00 'til 5:00. One was a major fireball. I called out involuntarily and to no one but the heavens above: “Wow! Holy Jeez!” It was a three stager. Long, wide tail, then a large burst and then two more bursts, with the second being the real head whumper! No exaggeration. I'd guess nearly as bright as a full moon.

The wind picked up while I was out. I only came in because my legs were going numb (from a chronic back problem with which I am wrestling) and the clouds were rolling in obscuring my view.

All in all, a great slow-paced show with a well timed climax. Better than any fireworks display! Well, not better maybe, but a real thrill in a cosmic, who-am-I-what-am-I-doing-here sort of way.

I'm listening to Jonn Serrie "The Stars, Like Dust" from: The Stargazer’s Journey


Lee Hartsfeld said...

I had an Astronomy professor who point out that we are all "stardust." Wow. I find the idea that life originated with material created by exploding stars to be a cool idea. One that would never go down in Ohio, where people are against election reform, gerrymandering reform, and science in public schools.

The average Ohioan probably thinks a falling star is a sign from God to vote Republican.


CrimsonCrow said...

We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden...
-J. Mitchell

Maine just got it right! I mean left.