12 August 2006

Perseid Meteor Showers

Tonight my daughters and I donned sweatshirts and crept into our backyard after dark to look for the Perseid Meteor Showers. It was a crisp 50 degrees that felt more like mid September than mid August, and we reveled in it.

After craning our necks for a few moments, looking at the clear, starlit sky, we decided to lie on the trampoline, for an easier, more relaxing view.

We chatted as we lay there, trying to name constellations, lamenting the few wispy clouds that were floating by, and we wondered about the various digging and scratching sounds we could hear in the woods around us. My oldest daughter spotted one meteor as my other daughter and I were getting settled, and then we waited for more.

As we waited, suddenly we saw great flashes of light, followed by a thundering boom. After our initial surprise, we realized it was the fireworks show at a local festival, just a few miles from our home. We peered through the trees to see if we could view the fireworks, but all we were able to enjoy was the light reflecting on those few wispy clouds.

In the end, my younger daughter got bored and went back inside. I finally joined her, not because I couldn’t have remained on that trampoline and looked at the stars all night, but because it was getting late. My older daughter saw two more meteors before the bright August moon rose and brightened up the sky.

Scientists tell us that although tonight was the peak, we may still see more of the Perseid Showers for at least another week. The best time is just after dark, before the moon rises. Try to find a dark spot away from city lights; perhaps a beach or an open field. A trampoline in a backyard works quite nicely. And even if you don’t see any shooting stars, the stars that stay in place coupled with the fresh, crisp Maine nighttime makes it well worth the effort.

Copyright © 2006 - Paulla Estes

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