The Norman Transcript

August 15, 2013

The night sky is worth it

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I love the sky. What else is so passive, yet so irresistible? Like a whisper. It gives us storm clouds, rainbows, rain and so many shades of blue. One of my favorite memories is enjoying a bright triple rainbow with my future father-in-law on the evening I met him. It seems appropriate for somebody who turned out to be one of my all-time favorite people.

This morning the Perseid meteor shower is on my mind. Last night was the last of the three best nights for viewing them this year, and the first cloudless one. I woke up at three thinking about all my faults for a suitable amount of time, then remembered the meteors. I leapt out of bed and made a pot of coffee.

By 4:10 I was in a chair on my porch staring upward. I saw something out of the corner of my eye, which is where all shooting stars seem to occur, but noticed it had a red flashing light. I continued to stare. With that much uninterrupted time to think, it occurred to me that the Perseids must have moved. I know this because I can see the sun, then I can’t see it, then I can see it again. If you’re supposed to look to the northeast after 11 p.m., where is that now? I figured that in 12 hours, that spot would move 180 degrees to the other side of the Earth. So five hours would be 75 degrees? I’m not sure. I’m doing the math in my head. I really have no idea in what direction it means I need to look.

After 20 minutes, I am at the end of my unrewarded patience, when BAM. There it was. A bright streak right in the darkest part of the sky, just where I was looking. That’s all I need to devote another half hour. I go inside to trade some used coffee for fresh, then head back outside to join Buzzy, my near-constant mosquito companion. By the time I get back to my chair, there’s no doubt she wandered off to manufacture 100 new babies. After the added half-hour commitment, I begin to feel like a sucker again, when BAM. Another shooting star. This one didn’t have a streak. Strange, but so great! Now I can’t pull myself away.

Now it’s 5:30 and nearly time to get up, when I see a final shooting star, this one located peripherally, but no less significant. Maybe more so, because it gives me permission finally to leave. At work, people will say, “You watched for meteors for an hour and a half? Was it worth it?” I’ll say, “Completely.”