Saturday, January 03, 2009
The western US and Canada were supposed to be able to see the best shower activity in their northern skies starting a few hours after midnight. By 5:30 am, although that activity had already peaked an hour or so earlier, since there was no moon and the skies were clear, I decided it was worth a try.
It was -30 F out there; so it was obvious I wouldn't be staying out very long - especially with the dog who wouldn't stay quietly inside if I went out without her, but also wasn't going to stay out very long either. I walked quickly away from the house into an open area and looked out into the sky.
I posted just a day or so ago about those gazillions of stars shining out there - especially when it's so cold and dry. I can almost hear a crackling static coming from the stars. Wow, even without the meteors this is such a profound experience.
After a minute the first streak from overhead toward the east, arcing about 1/4 of the sky. Then the next from the north arcing to the southeast. Then another, and another. Then a flash without a trail - that one must have been coming straight at us. I looked to the west and saw a streak going across half the sky from east to west. These guys were streaming in all directions. We must be hitting this swarm head-on.
After ten minutes, my face and neck had gotten pretty cold (I forgot to put on a scarf, dang it), and the dog was sighing rather pointedly, so I forced myself to go back inside.
Celestial events like these always remind me of the vastness of the cosmos; and of our true insignificance in the larger scheme despite our arrogant assumptions of importance. Maybe if we all took the time to look outward more often, we'd all find a little more humility and experience a better sense of kinship with everything else that shares this tiny spec of rock that is endlessly spinning a circle around our small star as we each journey along our all-too-brief paths across this unimaginably large and complex universe.