Bob shared a post from one of the hunting services he friended on Facebook that said that there would be a meteor shower in the early morning hours of August 12 and 13th. They are best seen in a location unhindered by city lights.
Not much of a trick in our part of south Texas. We don’t live far from the Gulf of Mexico so we quickly planned a campout at the beach. It doesn’t take much encouragement for either of us to decide that a beach trip is in order.
We got to the beach near dusk, a little later than we expected. Bob was working on his grandbaby’s cradle and we had to stop at every retail outlet between Bob’s house and the beach. By the time we got there, it was easy to find a quiet place to camp.
Bob got the campfire going and threw out the cast net to see what we might use for live bait. The water was unusually clear and I think the fish got a heads up before he could close the net.
Our new queen sized air mattress is more comfortable than the old one but too fat to fit in the bed of Bob’s truck. The sides cup to fit the truck bed so we looked like a couple of brats in a bun. We brought a radio and listened to country music, dance walking down the beach while we watched the night sky for meteors.
Bob saw the first few, but they were spotty. It wasn’t until after 1 a.m. that we started seeing meteors falling. They came more in sprinkles. First, one and we exclaimed, “It’s starting!” But there was a pause for a few minutes and then two more. Pause a bit longer and then one, two, three more.
They didn’t disappoint. The differences in brightness and locations surprised me. I thought they would be all in one place, uniform in appearance. They weren’t. Different space dust causes different light absorptions so they aren’t consistent. We fell asleep by 2:30 a.m. and when I woke near 4, there were enough cumulus clouds to obscure the stars. Show over.
The next meteor showers are October 20 when Earth passes through dust released by Halley’s Comet. Since meteor showers take their name from the constellation of origin, the Orionid meteors radiate within the constellation Orion. According to Star Date (stardate.org), Orionid meteors are less showy and not as easy to see as the Perseids last week-end.
The Leonid meteor shower will be around November 13 through the 21, but it isn’t expected to be as brilliant as the Geminid meteor shower in December. It starts December 6 and peaks on December 13-14 when we might see as many as 80 meteors an hour in the northern hemisphere.
We’ll take a shot at watching for the Geminids in December. The meteor showers and Curiosity, the Mars rover, have sparked my interest in the night sky. I realize that there’s so much I don’t know about meteors or even the night sky.
Bob pointed out the Milky Way, Orion’s belt. I haven’t paid attention to the constellations since Georgie the Elder and I used to lie on our backs in our backyard looking at the sky over George West and sharing secrets.
To find out how much you know about meteors, take space.com’s quiz—-http://www.space.com/15329-meteor-showers-quiz-skywatching.html. It is set up so a blind dog will make a good grade, but this blind dog would have to retake the test. I could write a whole blog about why I never pick the most probable and likely solution in meteor tests or in life.