Last night was the peak viewing time for the Perseid meteor shower. I like to catch it each year if the weather and my life situation allows. This year both pieces were in place. So, I went out to Green Mountain in Lakewood, hiked up to the top, and found a good viewing spot. I think I was there from about 10:30pm to 12:30pm. I hadn't gone prepared enough and was getting cold and uncomfortable. Even though I brought a long sleeve top, jeans, and a campfire chair, it would have been better to bring more layers and a blanket.
During my viewing time on the Green Mountain I would estimate I saw 25 or so "shooting stars." As I grew increasingly uncomfortable I fought with myself about how much longer I should hold out. This opportunity comes only once a year. The peak time was still supposed to be approaching. I felt a sense of needing to prove myself worthy of seeing the best part of the show by proving to the universe my commitment. On the other hand, I reasoned that I could be thankful for the wonderful moments of amazement I had already experienced that evening. So, some time around 12:30 I made my way back down the trail to the car.
I went to the super market and took care of some grocery shopping and headed home. At home I had a snack and decided to see what the sky looked like from my back yard. Fortunately, it was quite a clear sky with a great viewing field. So, I bundled up and lay on my back staring at the night sky. I was treated to approximately seven more of nature's fireworks, before I had to admit I was falling asleep. As I prepare to enter my house I took one last look at the sky and got to see one more meteor streaking by.
What is it that people (like me) find so entertaining, inspiring, and beautiful about these meteor showers? Why are we motivated to go to the lengths necessary to view them? Why do I feel the need to try to catch this every year, lest I risk my life be diminished for having missed it?
I don't know the answers to those questions. I do know that there is something special about taking the time to appreciate the natural beauty of the world around us and that it is worth it to interrupt our normal ritual to engage in a different ritual. I look forward to being able to do it again next year.
By the way, the Orionids peak on October 21, Leonids November 17, and Geminids December 13. I spent some time to watch the Leonids last year. Maybe I'll try to catch the Orionids and Geminids this year. I'm putting the dates in my calendar. And I'll make sure to bookmark StarDate Online.