So this week we had the pleasure of heading up to the field above Aunt Betty's house to take in the spectacular view of the Heavens. As a matter of fact we went up there twice this past week. The first time was Wednesday night. We headed up there, we as in the whole family (Robin, Ashby, Mom, Dad, and Clover the trusty sidekick) around 9:30pm after we packed the jeep with blankets, chairs, pillows, snacks and the like. We got up there around 9:45pm after a nice off-road trek up the ridge to get there as always. By 10:00pm we had the blankets spread, the chairs out, our binoculars at the ready and even the HT (Handy Talkie).
So there we were, all on our backs looking up at the celestial bodies when we viewed our first meteor streak across the sky. That's correct, our purpose this time was to watch the Perseid Meteor shower. Of course we were a night late for the peak but for good reason. On Tuesday it was cloudy and rainy so there was no chance to take in the event. However, Wednesday was just as well. We stayed up there for a two and half hours and in total, we saw at least 65 total meteors between us. I have to say it was an amazing show. We also took in the sites of Jupiter and three of it's moons with Dad's monster 200x binoculars. We also got to view our magnificent moon as it rose above the horizon. It was indeed a marvelous evening to view our great evening sky.
Our next trip up to the field was Friday evening. I had noticed on Heavens-Above.com that there was going to be a -8 magnitude Iridium Flare passing overhead that night and we decided we would head up there to check it out and see if there were going to be any more Perseids to watch. The flare was to occur between 10:18pm and 10:25pm. It was about 10:20 when I offered a dollar to the first person to spot the satellite. As it turns out, the Rugrat, with her eagle eyesight, was the first to spot it. It was a good thing to because it was just about to flare when we all glimpsed it. For those of you who don't know about Iridium Flares check out http://www.satobs.org/iridium.html. After that, we sat up in the field for another good two hours just passing the time with conversation, watching the evening sky, and catching a meteor or 10. We really didn't see a whole lot of Perseids that evening as it was pretty much the end of the shower. However, we did see a few and a couple that were not Perseids.
Anyway that was our time in the field. If you hear about an astronomical event coming up, like a meteor shower, visible comet, etc. my I suggest you get out to a field or a good viewing area outside of city light pollution and spend some time looking up. You'll be glad you did, I promise. As a matter of fact the Draconids will be coming up at the end of September first of October. Also the Leonids will be in November. I know it will likely be cold, but that's nothing a good sleeping bag, a few layers of clothing, and a thermos full of coffee or hot chocolate can't take care of.
Check out cool space stuff at www.spaceweather.com
Have fun and get out doors. God provided us with a beautiful masterpiece.
Happy Trails and God Bless,
Tim and Robin