Monday, August 9, 2010

Hardly a shower, barely a whore's bath

After getting all excited that I would make an effort to watch the Perseid meteor shower, I actually woke up a little before 3:00 AM -- nature not alarm clock did the waking -- and went outside.

The sky was clear and Jupiter was ruling the night. The glow from Columbus obscured a great portion of the horizon, but the stars higher in the sky were quite visible.

The 2/3 tree in the yard (April 2009 tornado completely took out one tree, and the top 1/3 of one other tree; this is the "other") blocks the North Star. This means I have to walk out to the middle of the yard to get a view of Polaris.

Cassiopeia was easy to find (it's that big 3/W/M that's near Polaris). And that meant that Perseus was easy to spot. Much of it, anyway. There is a thin line of trees bordering the property, and some of Perseus was obscured. Alpha Persei (the elbow) was visible, as were Beta Persei and Gamma Persei. The flickering Capella was visible through the trees.

Standing in the yard, looking up at approximately a 45° angle, I waited.

And waited.

Neck started to hurt, and I'd occasionally look down or off to another point, just to relieve the monotony.

No meteors.

Until, after a half-hour, at 3:39, a flash caught my eye to my left.

It had appeared from behind the 2/3 tree, streaking away from Perseus.

That's when I realized I needed to pick a different position. The tree was blocking the area of the sky below and to my left of Cassiopeia. And, it would block anything that didn't become visible until it was the apparent distance of the North Star.

So, I have no idea how many other meteors I may have missed.

I plan to position myself further out, where I can see over the line of trees and far enough away from the 2/3 tree so that I can see more of the sky near Perseus.

Still a few more days until the Perseid reaches its max. And, if the weather stays clear around 3:00 AM, I'll get more of a shower next time. That's the plan, anyway.

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