Meteor showers and their blinding effect on childhoods

Tonight (or tomorrow morning, rather) will be the peak of this year’s Perseid Meteor Shower, an event that has been dazzling people for centuries. And while I probably won’t be able to see anything tonight (or tomorrow morning, rather) from my vantage point in one of the brightest spots on the planet during a predicted two-day overcast forecast, it brings me back to my seventh grade and my experience with the Leonids.

WTF, yo.

You see back then I was o-b-s-e-s-s-e-d with astronomy, for a variety of different reasons.  Two of them that I can presently identify are:

  1. Growing up in a city meant being able to count all the stars you see in the sky on just one hand.
  2. A Walk to Remember just came out, and Mandy Moore played a cute girl who liked the stars. And I liked Mandy Moore.

The Leonids were to come in on an early November morning, and the night before I begged my Dad to drive me out as far from the city as possible so I can see them.  Me being Asian and the next day being a school night and all, it was an absolute no go.  And I expected it, but I tried anyway.

So I want to sleep that night, absolutely devastated that my dream of seeing some celestial action was not going to achieve fruition, and I’d go into school that next morning a depressed, meteor-experience-less 7th grader in a polyester blue Catholic school uniform and clip-on tie.

But to my opposite-of-chagrin (happy surprise?), I was shaken awake (shaken awoke? shoken awake?) by my father the next morning at 4:30.  He was dressed in a heavy jacket and boots.  Me being Asian and us being inside and all, I was confused.

That sense of confusion did not leave as he stuffed me into a winter jacket and boots as well and proceed to push me out my second-story bedroom window. Don’t worry, my window opens onto the roof of the kitchen, which kind of juts out the back of the main building.  Against the outside wall of my bedroom was a ladder leading up to the roof-roof of the house.  I climbed it and saw my little sister lying down on a mat, also covered in winter gear. I joined her, and there we were the two of us, staring up at a city light-filled, orange sky.

I definitely didn’t see as many meteors that night as I would have had we driven out to the middle of nowhere. But I remember counting 64 meteors over a period of two hours.  The flashes of light bright and audastic enough to break through the light pollution reached me 64 times, and I was impressed, awed, and thankful.

I’m not as obsessed with astronomy as I used to be, mainly because I took an astronomy course first semester in college and it was more physics than astronomy and that kind of bummed me out to it.  Wow, that’s a terrible excuse.  I should start re-invigorating my passion.  It was such a good one too. I’ve never lost respect for the stars and planets, I’ve just drifted. Granted, I never intended on becoming an astrophysics major, but I still want to know more than just being able to identify Jupiter in the night sky.  Maybe I used to know that. Maybe I drifted it when I realized  how expensive it is to buy/make a nice telescope, the kind Shane West made for Many Moore in A Walk to Remember (jeez, I’m lame). I think it’s time for to revisit the skies.

Wah.  Thanks, Dad.


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