I am driving out to Cherry Grove Observatory with my kids and my Dad tonight to view (hopefully) the peak of the Perseids meteor shower!
Two or Three weeks ago I was sitting on my balcony in Burnsville Minnesota when I saw the brightest and longest shooting start of my life, in the city. It was spectacular and it jogged a vague memory I had that there was some astral event going on this month. I consulted with a superior authority (Google) and found out that indeed there was an event this month. PERSEIDS!
Only the most spectacular of annual meteor showers! It is touted as the “fireball champion” of meteor showers! It occurs every August, and is a result of the Earth traveling through the left over debris from a comet that came through our solar system in the 90′s; Swift-Tuttle. (Put two and two together – we could have collided with this comet if the timing had been right. It only comes every one in 103 year, so most people alive today are safe for this cycle. ANYWAY!) It’s extra great this year because the moon’s cycle is such that it is not very bright. Next year – not so great as the moon will be closer to full.
I have seen another handful of shooting stars over the last few days, more each night. First one or two from my balcony, and a bunch more when I took my kiddos camping these past two days. Staring up at the night sky I could see a few each hour. So I have really witnessed the advent of this shower; the slowly increasing amount of visible meteors. It’s been amazing.
Earlier today I had talked with my Dad (a huge star-gazer and astronomy fanatic) about going out to Cherry Grove, and he expressed a deep disappointment that he was too tired and had too much going on to join me. A few hours after that I got a call from him saying that he would actually be able to come along after all! I am not sure if it was his concern over me taking my kids out to a remote field in the middle of the night or his own desire to see this event that finally made him want to come out more than sleep. Maybe a little of both. Either way three generations of space-lovers will be together tonight to witness what we can of the Perseids meteor shower.
How does this relate to geocaching or books you say? It really doesn’t. I like to think that people who geocache are outdoor lovers of all kinds who would also be interested in a story about one of the greatest meteor showers North America can witness in a year. (The second best being the Leonids in November.)
This meteor shower will be visible even for those near cities with light pollution tonight and tomorrow night. So if you have a field or a roof available to you I would suggest checking out the night sky at about 2am both nights. Wishes will be plentiful and we could all use a few more of those in our lives!