Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Invisible Cosmic Debris

Saturday night, I made every effort to go out and see the Perseids, again touted as being an extra, extra, extra spectacular show this year - sort of like the Ice Capades, only only a larger scale and a little less random. So, of course, I get out at 2 AM (the beginning of the peak hour), walk down the street and dutifully face northeast, with my neck craned up to about 40 degrees, or a little bit over the neighbor's roof.

Waited, waited, waited, nothing. It was a little overcast, and, yes, short of living at the airport, the light pollution couldn't be any worse here, even though it was a new moon. But still: they claimed eighty an hour, and I didn't see a single one. And, you know? I never see one. Ever. Back in college, I drove all the way out to the middle of Connecticut from Providence (leaving my lame or smart friends behind who had no interest), and it was clear as a bell, and moonless again. But nothing.

After about half an hour, I got paranoid that I was making my neighbors paranoid, and the clouds started to take over and the sky turned that electric orange of the streetlights along the Henry Hudson Parkway, and I supposed that was it. I walked back up the street and got back into bed, reporting to Yesenia that she missed a great show with as much sarcasm as I could muster at 2:30 in the morning with a neck cramp.

It's not like I'm expecting the sky to open up like the view from the Millennium Falcon's cockpit on the leap into Hyperspace, but one fucking meteorite would be nice, you know? My instinct is to plan a getaway to northern New England or some equally benighted place, next August, but I know from experience that it would be a fruitless quest.

Next year, I'm just going to the Hayden Planetarium. Bring on the laser pointer and the Godlike announcer with the soothing baritone.


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