Got Lucky and the Persieds Rocked

infrared satelite

Sunday night, August 12th, in the Flint Hills to see the Perseids meteor shower with Photon Phil and Richard. We got lucky that a storm mostly missed our location. The small infrared satellite image to the right is 02:45 UTC August 13, or about 10:00pm local time.

The first few hours after dark had many nice earth grazers. After midnight when the showers radiant had risen higher in the sky we were seeing about 60 meteors per hour by my rough count. The storm complex pictured did move SE so we were affected by intermittent light clouds. This had a more adverse impact on photography than visual so I stopped taking pictures around 1:00am. This was actually a good thing since I just enjoyed the show rather than tending to equipment. Around 4:00am, about an hour before the end of true darkness, the radiant was close to being overhead and we saw a flurry of activity. Overall a very nice meteor shower. I have several images to process so I may have something to post later.

It happens that I was lucky twice that night. Around 9:30pm I was drift aligning my telescope and walked away from my equipment for a short while. When I returned I knelt down by my scope and immediately heard a rattling sound. It is an unmistakable sound. Not having my headlamp on I yelled over at the guys to bring a flashlight. Naturally I slowly backed away from the shape. It was a rattlesnake that decided he liked my tarp and was coiled up beside the cables. I was fortunate that he warned me rather than striking out, he had only been a foot or two away. Since there was no harm done we nudged him off into the taller grass away from the site. As he left I judged his length to be about two foot or so.

So I was lucky that night; my first good meteor shower in over a year and no snakebite.

The rhythm of darkness

For those souls that live in perpetual light (pollution) you miss something besides the stars: the lunar cycle. The coming and going of the moon. The full moon is annoyingly bright to us star gazers, but after a few weeks its gone. Then the night sky is dark once more. As the weeks pass the moon returns. Since the beginning of our time we have experienced this rhythm of darkness.

Then the streetlight was invented and where widely used it never gets dark. Recently I ran across an interesting article in Metropolis Magazine that talked about an idea to tie city street lights to the lunar cycle. Called lunar resonant street lights the concept was put forth by a design collective called Civil Twilight.

This looks like a promising idea that would save energy and bring back a natural rhythm that many people are unaware of. Wow, save energy and bring back a touch of the night sky. Brilliant!