Nights of Shooting Stars

The scheduled Perseid meteor shower was supposed to have a peak-of-viewing window on Saturday and Sunday nights.

We live out here in the great Pacific Northwet. This means that every time something interesting happens up there , our skies cloud over and bang, that’s that, sorry, show’s over, nothing to see here, go away now – or at the very least if you want to stay outside bring an umbrella.

I was cynically expecting the same for this weekend.

But Ho.Ly.Cow. PNW.
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At around about the stroke of ten, I issued forth out of our front door and lifted my face to the sky….

And the sky was full of stars.

It was so clear I could even see the blurred and reddish misty edge of the Milky Way. And within a couple of minutes I saw the first Perseid streak across the firmament leaving a fiery tail in its wake.

I was: Entranced. Raptured. Bespelled.

I stared up into the sky until my pesky security-conscious neighbors came home and immediately turned on all their outside lights, destroying my night vision.

Grumbling darkly, I overheard voices a little further up the street and I went in search of them and met three other neighbors who were blissfully sitting in the dark discussing quantum physics, the Higgs Boson, “What the Bleep Do We Know” (the movie), satellites, Curiosity, the Moon landing,  dinosaurs and fossils, properties of light, the Andromeda Galazy and its eventual collision with our own.

And all the while we were sitting there with our necks craned up, staring at the backbone of the Milky Way, and occasionally one or the other of us would squeal, “There! There!” and we’d watch another meteor blaze its trail through the sea of stars and the occasional purposefully moving satellite makings its way across the heavens, including the Space Station.

And in the meantime, the stars were caught up in the cedars, twinkling through its branches like Christmas baubles hung on a summer Christmas tree.

And the stars were falling, falling, falling.

It takes no more than this to make me happy. Watching a starry sky with my whole heart up there, playing hide and seek with Aldebaran and Vega, with Cygnus and Perseus and Orion, with all the myths and the longing and the power that my ancestors had once flung up at those stars, claiming the magic, because all know that names hold power and by naming them they owned them… or thought they did… or simply succumbed to their glory and sat there in the dawn of civilization staring up at the sky just as I was doing that night, seeing the same galaxy spill across the heavens.

Sunday night I went out again and saw a handful more of the fiery Perseid trails – but the geeky star loving neighbors weren’t there to chat to so I didn’t stay out long.

But I saw the falling stars this year. I lifted my eyes to the sky and they were filled the glitter and the glory of starstuff.

Some days. Some days it’s good to be alive.

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