Friday, August 12, 2011

Shooting Stars

I stood on the deck for a long time last night looking for meteors, but the moon was as bright as a lantern in the night sky. 
Every now and then I'd see something on the edge of my peripheral vision, but I couldn't turn my head quickly enough to actually see a shooting star. I was a little disappointed because we're far enough in the country that city lights are not a factor when looking at the sky. But the moon was another story.
Several years ago when our nephews were in their early teens, we set lawn chairs out in the garden facing north. Jilda popped up a bucket of popcorn, and packed a cooler full of ice and soft drinks.
When the sun went down and all traces of red, orange, and purple faded from the horizon, the night sky turned the color of ink.
Just after 8 p.m. the light show started. When we'd see a meteor streaking across the sky, we'd ooooo and aaaahhhhh like we were watching fireworks. The kids had a great time and so did Jilda and I.  It was an experience that stands out in the noise of time.
That was memorable, but the best meteor shower I ever saw was in Panama in 1973. Panama is situated just a few degrees above the equator and in those days, most of the population was located in a few large cities.
I was in the Army and stationed at Fort Sherman. Sherman was an installation situated on a tiny tongue of land separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Colon.
In the jungle adjacent to Fort Sherman was an ancient fort built by the Spanish in the late 1500's. 
The walls of Fort San Lorenzo were still standing in 1973. If you weren't afraid of heights, you could lean over the eastern-most edge of the wall and see the Atlantic crashing on shore a few hundred feet below. Had it not been for the curvature of the earth, I think we could have seen Havana, Cuba.
I don't recall knowing in advance that it was a good night for meteors, but it was. 
It was a Saturday night and we all felt like were were million miles from home. We'd had a few beers and so we laid down on the wall near the precipice. 
Below you could hear the whisper of the surf, and the stars in the sky were as bright as penlights. 
All of a sudden I heard someone gasp. I wasn't sure if a snake had crawled up their pants leg or what, but then we all saw a meteor with a tail that streaked across the sky in slow motion.
I lost count of how many stars we saw that night, but some streaked from horizon to horizon. 
I was awed and humbled in those few hours.  I don't know that I've ever felt so small. 
So tonight, I'm going to set the clock and try once again to see some shooting stars, in the moonlight. I can tell you it will be tough to top that hot August night in Panama.


  1. Hope you get up and report them to us - I am going to try - but I am not sure if I will make it or not!

  2. My husband and I are going to try to see a bit of it in the early morning hours, but it will be hard as we live in Southern California. A lot of light, and probably a fair amount of cloud cover from the ocean. A few years ago I was able to share the meteor experience with my daughter: me on my patio in the wee hours, and her on a beach in Hawaii watching with college friends, both of us on our cell phones with each other. It's a good memory.

  3. Let us know what you see. :) It sounds like fun.

    We spend six months of each year at sea (in ten week increments) and have seen some beautiful nights out there with no land nearby. Of course the starts are fabulous. Lightning is especially beautiful at night while at sea, too.

  4. I'm going to try and see if I can catch a glimpse tomorrow morning...early...on a day off..wait, am I crazy? Nah..just star struck.

  5. This is a wonderful telling of a wonderful experience. It's been a long time since I had one.

    Nice! For a moment I was out of the world complains in life and I saw the beauty of the world...

    Love it!


  6. I enjoyed reading these thoughts, Rick - I assume you guys are about to have a meteor shower? I do hope you get to see some!
    In this part of the world we are lucky to have clear skies; the students who come on exchange to our school from Europe or Japan are always amazed at the clarity of the night sky.
    Of course right now it's still winter, so a clear night probably means a stiff morning frost!

    Enjoy :)

  7. Oooh how lucky to have seen meteor showers!! Wonderful!!!!

    I hope you get to see a shooting star or three tonight! Take care

  8. Yeah! A friend experienced same thing. He cannot access my blog. And then when I check my email inbox it says that I haven't logged in for a long time that my blog is frozen. Which is very much impossible because I have postings almost everyday. Anyway, thanks for e visit sir!

    Yeah! Just the thought that I have a wonderful walk to the rainbow bridge and spending 3 days with a wonderful, generous, kind & hospitable (kind of redundant, LOL!) friend, it was indeed a wonderful experience.



  9. I hope you see something wonderful!

    I'm a bit late with this but congratulations on your 303 followers :)

  10. That's very cool! Unfortunately we had too many clouds to see a thing!


  11. I've seen a few meteor showers, most when I lived in Arizona. Amazing sight!

  12. wow, what great memories!
    and by the way, i love the way you write. :)

  13. Earlier this year, travelling in the Australian outback, we saw a huge meteor shower. The stars were so bright I got a fright, wondering at first what they were .. We stopped on the highway to watch. It was AMZING!!

  14. Greetings from the Amish Settlement of Lebanon,pa. Richard from Amish Stories.

  15. I think that was the time my husband layed out in the yard trying to film the "show" only to find out later there was no film in the camera. Yes. I remember it well.

  16. Wow! Fantastic!
    Please let us know what you see! ;D

  17. What a terrific post. :) So glad you visited my blog and led me to your own. Thank you!
    We, too, are far enough out in the country that stargazing and meteor shower viewing are never a problem...except for that doggone bright and beautiful moon! Couldn't see a thing. :(

  18. I do remember beach nights when I was young and seeing shooting stars. Sadly, most beaches are so inhabited their lights hide the showers...

    I'll enjoy hearing more of your experiences...bliss!


Please consider sharing

Email Signup Form

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required