Friday, August 13, 2010

Perseids Meteor Shower...or sprinkle.

My oldest son, Dylan, and my nephew, Jason, decided to get up in the wee hours of the morning to seek out the Perseids Meteor Shower. They set their alarm to wake them at 1 a.m., but it did not go off. At 3:50, my two year old, Ollie, woke me up asking for "Mitt," his word for "milk." After fumbling downstairs for a clean sippie cup, filling it with milk, and nudging the older boys awake, the power went out. The three of us meteor-seekers dressed by light of the cell phone and headed out in the minivan to find a hill on Bonds Ranch Road. Blurred by the city's excessive light pollution and haze, the stars were at first difficult to see.

As we headed northwest from Saginaw, up Business 287 to Bonds Ranch Road, the Milky Way became dimly apparent above us, but the space nearer the horizons remained indistinct. I pulled off the shoulder just past a parked Jeep where a man and the obscure shadows of his own children, all gazed up into the sky. The father appeared to be using the Jeep to support his tired frame, his elbows perched atop the hardcover, holding up his head at an angle that suggested fatigue. The things we do to enrich our kids' education!

Jason, Dylan, and I stood in front of our own minivan, well away from the shoulder of the road. The lights from the power plant down on Eagle Mountain Lake were a minor distraction from the show in the heavens, but the real interference seemed to be the city to our south.

"When does the shower begin, Daddy?" Dylan asked.
"It's been going on for days."
"How long does it last?"
"I believe a few more days."
"Will we be able to feel them or hear them when they hit the ground?"
"I hope not, son, cuz that might be it if we did."
"Can we go find them?"
"No son, most of them will burn up before they hit the ground."
"Where are they...Oh! There's one!"

The next forty minutes or so produced only a dozen or so confirmed meteors. Jason was the first to return to the minivan. "I think I'm gonna go lay down and take a nap." At 4:50 in the morning, I didn't blame him.

"Maybe next year we'll try to go down south of Benbrook to see if the viewing is better." I suggested to Dylan.
"Can we go now?"
"Well, I don't think it would be a good use of our time and year."
"Can we go get some donuts?"

We were home before 5:30 and the power was back on. The boys had no trouble getting back to sleep, and I had a good 30 minutes of rest before Ollie woke up for good. Though the shower was less than spectacular, the time with the boys was worth the loss of sleep.

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