Seein’ Stars

by Amy on August 12, 2009

The story I’ve been putting together for next week is about sodium yard lights, er, the absence thereof. I thought it was such a co-inkydink (our slang term for coincidence) that I wrote about that particular topic the same time my family and I all slept outside and watched for shooting stars “organically,” as in free of outdoor lighting.
My son had read in his Camp Out book that August was the best time to watch for shooting stars, so the family threw sleeping bags on the ground (okay so I’m not that tough; my husband and I drug out our hide-a-bed mattress on the ground first) and stared up at the sky. Pepper took her usual spot at the foot of my son’s sleeping bag and snuggled in for the night. The evening reminded me that the experience is really amazing and everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime, no matter how old they are.
Within a few minutes we saw our first meteor and by an hour’s time, between 9:30 and 10:30, we saw 3 huge, long streaking shooting stars right above us. Everybody shouted something at the same time when we saw a star shoot across the sky. It was a fantastic family experience.
The night was cool but not chilly like it had been (40’s); about 55 degrees and we were fortunate enough to be free of pesky mosquitoes, which isn’t always the case. We all visited about past night sky watching when we witnessed a whole bunch of shooting stars one time and the time we saw red Northern Lights one winter night on our way home. We told stories, laughed, shared star facts, and talked about how grateful we were for the privilege of getting to sleep outside and being able to see the sky. One time we made popcorn to eat while we watched the sky put on a show and agreed we should do that again.
Before long I struggled to keep my eyes open and just gave in and drifted off to sleep. Nothing puts me to sleep like fresh air does. Sleeping in the outdoors is the best night’s sleep I can get especially at the thought of stars streaking across the sky overhead while I dream. I woke up once probably around two or three a.m. and saw another huge meteor shoot across the sky. I went back to sleep instantly.
I encourage some organic sky watching before August ends. Tonight, if possible. It’s supposed to be exceptional. I also read that twice as many meteors can be seen the few hours before dawn than after sunset. Make popcorn and take along a blanket and a drive out into the country; pester a friend or neighbor who lives in the country and doesn’t have a yard light. It will be an experience the whole family will enjoy. Go get star-struck.

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