Wednesday, January 04, 2012

As Scheduled

The Quadratids sounds like the name of a band, or maybe a circus act featuring four child siblings.  But it's actually a meteor shower, with its peak last night--and for once, I saw it.

I saw the most shooting stars between 4:45 and 6 a.m.  Not the 120 an hour that probably were visible from prime locations (view of the whole sky without light) but I saw a couple of dozen here...Some were the usual long thin streaks, some were fatter, shorter and considerably brighter than ordinary shooting stars.  I saw several that covered a fair amount of sky and left a vapor trail.  Most traveled from right to left so to speak, but I saw one spectacular one that shot across left to right high in the sky, long enough to look like a rocket.  There were often two within a few seconds of each other, and once I saw two at the same time!

Mostly it was waiting and looking (I started at around 3, came back in, tried again at 4, etc.) in the cold, at times with a cup of hot tea, listening to Beethoven quartets.  It was an unusually clear night for this time of year.  However our house doesn't offer an ideal view of the north and east, where these comet fragments were coming from.  Our best unobstructed, unlit view is more west and southerly.  So I saw the best ones from a small space outside the toolshed and woodpile.  But at last I've seen enough of a scheduled shower to say I saw it.  It's probably the best I've seen.            

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