When You Wish Upon a Star: The Perseid Meteor Shower

Tonight, shortly after dusk, Jason and I gathered up some light blankets and the insect repellent and headed out to our backyard to view the annual Perseid meteor shower.

Immediately, I was taken back to my childhood, when I spent many a summer’s evening laying on my back in the cool grass staring up into the heavens. The Perseids were something I looked forward to each year and I took great pride in reporting to my parents how many meteors I counted in a given night.

2008 Perseid Meteor Shower

This said, when my husband reported to me that he’d never seen a shooting star, I was shocked. Tonight, I was determined, we would change all that.

As we settled into our Adirondack chairs facing the northeast sky and wrapped ourselves in the soft blankets, fireflies were putting on a light show of their own set to the music of the crickets and tree frogs. A duo of brown bats swooped in and out of sight. Light from the waxing moon, hazy clouds, and city lights on our suburban horizon didn’t make for the best viewing conditions, but I was undaunted.

Patiently we watched and, while the astronomical fireworks display of my childhood memories was not to be had, we did indeed see a small handful of shooting stars. One of them, just above the northern horizon, was a brightly-burning medium-sized fireball. Awesome!

All in all, I met my objective. My husband saw his first shooting star. I wonder what he wished for.

For more information on the Perseid meteor shower, check out http://meteorshowersonline.com/perseids.html.


Perseids radiant image courtesy of Astronomy.com.

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