Thursday, 12 August 2010

flashy mind's eye perseids?

There I was, at around three thirty am, staggering around the house in the dark. I'd woken and decided it was worth a look outside because I'd heard on the news about the Perseid metoer shower being at its best around now.

I wandered to the kitchen, which has a big glass door from where I looked upwards to the night sky, partly obscured by light cloud cover, but with a few of the big stars shining through. I could indeed make out the Plough (which I'm told isn't even a full constellation, but part of something else) and also the North star - for starters.

Then as I was looking around to get orientated, I noticed a little flash of a line in the sky. Quite faint, very fast and only lasting a mere blink of an eye - more like dim very straight lightning at an angle to the earth. I wasn't sure whether I'd imagined it.

I kept looking, wondering whether it was the meteor dust or simply my tired eyes. Then a couple of minutes later I saw another one - or maybe imagined another one. It was quite a short line in the sky and only lasted a tiny amount of time. A speck of dust burning at 1600 degrees Celsius or my tired eyes?

They'd both had quite a steep angle to the sky and were some way to the right of the Plough. The six mile diameter comet that created the dust isn't due around here again until abour 2126, and its near miss with the earth isn't until 3044. Its supposed to be about the same size as the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Its a bit like the brilliant Swift-Tuttle Dark Chocolate Espresso Berry Comet Truffle belly timber recipe designed to wipe out astronomical hunger.

But I'm still not sure whether I'm an observer, even after I glimpsed or imagined the third one.

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