Perseid Meteor Shower Memories
By Warren (USA)
So, it's called the Perseid Meteor Showers, and our hometown "Patch" (wondering if they have Patch nationwide) says we'll be guaranteed 2 or 3 "showers" a minute. That sounds worthwhile (and exciting) to see, as it's touted to be the best in 20 years.
I think I may have seen the previous occurrence they speak of, 20 years ago. It was about 20 years ago that such meteor showers were predicted in this area, and I went out to my front lawn to take a look at midnight (as I was advised to do by my local TV meteorologist).
There was a 12-year old neighbor-child across the (narrow) road, from me, and she had come outside her house to do the same (as I discovered through conversation). Very few cars come down our road at any time, and particularly at midnight, and no other people were out, so we had no problem with traffic noise, and we pretty much had the "sky" all to ourselves.
Meteor showers began, and became way cool. I got a blanket and lay down on my lawn to watch them, and the girl across the road did the same. And it makes plenty of sense for ANYONE to lie down during such an occurrence, because you'll get a stiff neck sitting or standing and looking UP for two hours. :-) Of course, the blanket keeps ants and other insects at bay (and grass pollen, if you have allergies).
It became very interesting and exciting, and I suggested to the girl (whose name, sadly, I've forgotten; I'll call her Maia) that we lie in the same position--though 30 yards away--with our feet facing west, and therefore, looking toward the western sky, and also, that we consider the sky, within our view, to be a CLOCK.
And I also suggested that we call out the hour on the clock where we see a meteor trail occurring. Looking west, and from below (of course), that would be 12 o'clock for our highest point-of-view, 3 o'clock to (due) north, 6 o'clock to our lowest point-of-view, and 9 o'clock" to (due) south. Of course we could not see due east, which was behind us (and neither of us has eyes in the back of our heads).
Meteors showers started flying, 4 or 5 every minute, at times, and Maia and I were hollering, "5 o'clock", 8 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 6 o'clock", etc., etc., etc., for the next 2 hours, until they slowly diminished and stopped. Toward the end, Maia and I were both hoarse from meteor-shower-watching.
But we couldn't stop shouting out the hours as the "shooting stars" streaked across the sky; it was exhilarating, and we were caught up in the moment.
Maia's father and/or mother came out a number of times to check on her, and asked her more than once, "Are you all right?" And her only reply to them was, "3 o'clock, 9 o'clock, 2 o'clock"; and my reply to them was "1 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 7 o'clock".
Each time, they just quietly went back inside their house, no doubt thinking that Maia and the neighbor across the road had gone daft from gazing at the sky for TOO long.
What an experience! I asked her toward the beginning why her two older sisters and her parents did not come out to watch the meteor showers. "They're just not interested", was Maia's reply. Sad, that others did not want to see the most unnatural of natural occurrences take place. We were the only two on my street--within our view--who witnessed it.
Sad, also, that Maia and her family moved away years ago, and I won't have a kindred spirit across the road to holler out the hours of the meteor showers that will begin at 1:00 a.m., Friday morning, August 12, 2016 (this coming Friday). I'll question a few of my friends, and see if there's another who has the child-like enthusiasm required to lie on their back and look upwards for a few hours, and shout out the positions of "shooting stars" as they streak across the sky.
For those who wish to experience a rare and exhilarating occurrence of nature, I suggest the following:
1. Get a blanket to protect yourself from ground-dwelling insects, etc.
2. Take a flashlight. One never knows...?
3. Slather all exposed skin with a NATURAL mosquito repellent. Use "Skin So Soft", or any other organic repellent. Don't poison your body with (harmful) chemical insecticides.
4. Start an hour early. Since meteor showers are predicted for 1 o'clock Friday morning, August 12, choose your location and get in position by midnight, Thursday, August 11, 2016 (this coming Thursday night).
5. Dress appropriately for possible mosquito attacks at this time of year--long-sleeved shirts for guys, long-sleeved blouses or shirts for girls, and of course, no shorts (unless you're just itching to be itching from head to toe).
6. Take a lawn-chair if you prefer, but I can assure you, you'll get a stiff neck. I've been there.
7. Carry a weapon if you live in a bad neighborhood or have weird neighbors. (Don't do this! It's just my attempt at humor.)
8. Get another to join you, and shout out the hours, as did Maia and I. Shared experiences are memorable.
How memorable? In the 20 years since Maia's family moved away, I've only seen them two or three times, as they've come back to visit their old neighborhood. And each time, Maia--now a grown woman in her 30's--asks me, "Do you remember the experience we shared one night?"
And I tell her, "How could I forget? It was a magical, Peter Pan moment, where age and improbability did not exist--where shooting stars streaked across the night-time sky and equally exhilarated an old dude and a young girl, and presented them with a shared experience they will probably not forget in a lifetime."
Perseid Meteor Showers, midnight, Thursday, August 11, 2016. Be there or be square.
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