I am a lifelong star nerd. Some of my earliest memories are of lying on the back deck, staring up at the stars and being told the names of the constellations. I grew up finding comfort in the Big Dipper, Orion, and Cassiopeia. I read Odyssey magazine. When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be a pediatrician, a teacher, a paleontologist, and an astronaut.
I still find comfort in the night sky. The moon, especially the full moon, makes me feel happy. And I adore being somewhere I can see all the stars in the sky – not my condo, there are too many streetlights and ambient light from the city, but my boss’s house out in the country and parts of my parents’ yard. One of my favorite – utterly useless but still really cool – iPhone apps is Star Walk. It lets you point the screen at the sky and identify what stars and constellations you’re looking at. My dad and I played with it for probably 30 minutes the other night, and found Mars when it was really bright in the sky.
And tonight, in case you’ve somehow missed it, is the best viewing of the Perseid meteor shower for the next three years. And it’s supposed to be PARTICULARLY spectacular tonight because there’s no moon. I’m going to try really hard to stay up late enough to walk out after midnight and see what I can see. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make it to the best viewing time, which is 3:00-4:00 am – I will not be up that late, and I am highly doubtful of my ability to rouse myself from sleep and actually get out of bed and go outside then. But the shower is supposed to be visible from about 10:00 pm until just before dawn, so maybe I’ll catch a few if I make it to midnight. Any other star nerds out there planning to join me in staying up late for a meteor shower?