29 August 2016

Seconds of Stupendous Stellar Spectacle on Sunday

Early in the morning on Sunday, August 28th, a bit more than a hour was spent watching for meteors in the north Valentine sky.

The observational time started at 12:58 a.m. when upon a short-track meteor was noted low in the eastern sky, streaking from west to east. It was just a few degrees above the horizon.

After further minutes of watching, there had been no further occurrence, so the following rhyme was silently spoken:

I wish I may,
I wish I might,
See another shooting star tonight.

A dual response was received from the universe.

Within five minutes one streaked went east to west high in the sky dome, somewhat to the westward. It was vivid against the denser stellar concentration of the Milky Way.

A couple of minutes later, another occurred. It was a relatively short distance northward, and went from south to north.

Minutes of watching were spent gazing at the sky and listening. There were multi-tonal insects of at least three sorts, including the pervasive crickets and another sort that had a distinctive, intermittent but incessant buzzing when heard.

There was the occasional, subtle sound of the breeze through the nearby pines. The loudest sound of note was the once-in-a-while snore of a horse.

By this time, my vantage point was sitting in a lawn chair on the front walk, being wrapped in a blanket that meant just the right degree of warmth. My direction of looking was generally to the overhead and northward where there was the greatest extent of starry night features.

At 1:26, a short-track shooting star was noted directly overhead, going south to north.

There was no moon, but the darkness was occasionally marred by a motion-detector outdoor light activating due to a branch moved by the winds.

A final streak of stellar stuff was at 1:48, in a long track going east to west in the upper portion of the northern sky.

When there was no shooting star activity, the subtle hues of white against the cosmic dark were appreciated. Stationary satellites were the brightest, while those moving along were much less obvious. So many stars of bright to light to some so dinky to be nearly oblivious to normal human sight ... what would these mighty objects look like when seen from within their own solar system? Then there is the seeming "clouds" of the Milky Way vague yet obvious.

The whole interlude was an opportunity to ponder the cosmos and its vastness … what would the night sky look like if it was being watched from some planet associated with a twinkling star light years distant? What might an observer look like? Might they have more than a single moon? What sound’s would of the time – though it would probably not be demarked by hours – could be appreciated? Perhaps the skies would be traversed by spaceships rather than the commercial airplanes with their three-flashes here above Earth.

Watching continued until 2:10 a.m. There was more of a variety of directions for the meteors during this observational event, so the prognosis is that they were not all associated with the Perseids.