On the EDge: The comfort of the night

OPINION – I’m a little tired.

We stayed up the other night to watch the Perseids meteor shower.

It was one of Nature’s freebies. You didn’t have to buy a ticket, didn’t have to find a special parking space, didn’t have to pay an exorbitant price for a drink and popcorn at the concessions stand or any of that.

In fact, we didn’t even have to dress up.

All we did was put a blanket on the ground and lay there, looking up at the nighttime sky.

OK, so there was a little light pollution making it more difficult to see what was whizzing across the sky. And, there were a few trees and buildings around, partially obstructing the view.

But, we got to see a number of shooting stars as they scooted across the horizon.

And, they were brilliant.

You can make wishes, you know, on shooting stars. Sometimes, they even come true.

It was quiet. Even the noisy insects tucked it in for the night, ceasing their incessant twitter and buzz.

The show began slowly, with faint little glimmers of light moving across the sky at a rate of about one every five or six minutes

About 1 a.m., things started to pick up and more brilliant streaks of light began whizzing across the darkened sky, some so large, so bright, they looked close enough to reach out and catch.

It was so very cool.

It also got my mind to traveling.

I mean, I wondered aloud what the ancient people must have thought when they looked up and witnessed Nature’s fireworks display.

It was also dark enough to get a decent look at how many stars twinkled against the night sky.

And, it made me feel very small.

We think, at times, that we are at the center of the universe, that we are the primary reason behind this life, this world, and don’t often ponder the enormity of all around us that is known and unknown.

I had read some items on the Internet about certain planets that would be prominent in the sky, the effect of the moon and when its glow would be less detrimental to the view.

I looked up at the sky and, of course, could see the moon, watch it sort of disappear. But I looked for the constellations the Internet had told me about and, well, nothing. I looked for Venus and I think I might have seen it, but I’m still not sure. I mean, at this point, my eyes are such that I saw a small plane crossing the sky and, for a moment, thought it was a really slow-moving meteor.

My wife Cara and I have become sort of nocturnal. Well, sometimes.

We like the comfort of the night, the little protective bubble it provides, the quiet and isolation it offers us from the rigors of the day. It’s something we learned to enjoy living on the Sea of Cortes where many people divide their days to avoid midday heat, so it’s not uncommon for us to sit up into the early morning hours, visiting with each other, enjoying the solitude that comes under the cover of night.

Sunday night offered the perfect excuse to enjoy more of that.

We’ve got a couple more of these displays this year.

The Orionids meteor shower comes up on October 21. The Leonids shower arrives on November 16 followed by the Andromedids November 25-27.  The Geminids will visit us on December 12 and 13 and the Ursids close out the skyrotechnics for the year on December 22. The Geminids show, by the way, should be the best with as many as 75 visible meteors an hour.

Science tells us, of course, that meteors, as described by the American Meteor Society, are “caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories. Most meteors are smaller than a grain of sand, so almost all of them disintegrate and never hit the Earth’s surface.”

Me?

I’ll just turn skyward, hoping to see a shooting star.

And, of course, make a wish.

No bad days!

 

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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