Thursday, August 13, 2009

Meteor watching

Last night was pretty clear, so I set out for Long Run Park and got there around 11:50. I circled the lake and saw just a few other people on the hoods of their cars or on blankets. I presume they were looking at the sky, too, although I kept out of their business.
It was very dark (there are no lights in the park), so I didn't realize that the field in which we used to throw out blankets for late-night picnics and stargazing was overgrown until I had walked right up to it.  I suppose they are letting it grow over both because it's more environmentally sound and because it costs a lot of money to mow such a huge space that isn't used much.
I put up my lawn chair in the stip of mowed grass between the field and the road. The bugs weren't bad, although I did keep hearing things moving in the tall grass behind me. I had a pretty big flashlight, so I figured that I could defend myself if I were jumped by a rabid raccoon or a swarm of carnivorous field mice.
I sat for about an hour and counted eleven meteors, plus a handful more that I think I saw in my peripheral vision. Some of them were very bright. By 12:45 the half-moon was climbing above the trees and the sky was getting lighter, and I knew I needed at least a little sleep, so I headed home.
 If I had been in a location with less light pollution, I feel sure I could have tripled my count.

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