Stargazing

It seemed like a fitting activity for the last week of Summer vacation: to stay up (or wake up, in my case) past moonset at 1:54 a.m. and lay on our backs to watch the Perseid meteor shower.  It’s something we’ve done on occasion since the children were small, sometimes huddled in coats and sleeping bags, depending on the time of year.

This morning, Alpha and Delta joined me in the front yard.  Although our yard isn’t ideal for star gazing, between the trees and streetlights, we still saw an impressive show.   The air is crisp for mid-August, but pleasantly so.

Several things crossed my mind as I lay there watching for the streaks of light across the sky.  One, that it would be really nice if streetlights were motion-activated to reduce light pollution and energy consumption.  Also, that it won’t be many years before there will be no one to watch the meteor showers with me (HWTFM sleeps through them). 

On the northwest coast of Michigan, where we spent the latter half of July, the stars are much more visible due to greatly reduced light and air pollution.  The Milky Way is easily visible with the naked eye on any clear night.  On the farm though, dark is REALLY dark, and the large cat and coyote tracks are enough to deter me from hanging out in the orchards in the middle of the night.

One of these nights, I’d like to attend one of the public stargazes at Roane State’s Tamke-Allan Observatory.

2 Responses to “Stargazing”

  1. on 13 Aug 2008 at 10:40 am Joel

    My lovely and talented wife and I like to think of the Perseid meteor shower as a cosmic wedding anniversary party. 31 years.

  2. on 13 Aug 2008 at 8:46 pm Smoke

    I have actually found that the grounds at Big South Fork are best to observe.

    There’s absolutely no light. You can lay out there with others – only to know their presence by the “ooohhhh”s and “aaaahhhhh”s when some really good ones pass through. Everyone giggles when they realize that they aren’t the only ones out there watching too.

    UT sets up in the main parking lot before dusk. All of the students bring their equipment – cook out and play lots of Pink Floyd (Darkside of the Moon) sorts of music…it’s awesome!!

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