Friday, November 22, 2002


[Full moon and clouds got in the way of the measly trickle of Leonid meteors we got over here in Asia that I was going to write about, so this is from November 1998. RB]

Tuesday night at around 10 and then again at around 11 I went out onto the deck and scanned the skies for a few freezing minutes looking to see if there were any Leonid meteors in our planetary neighborhood, but saw nothing other than the usual novas and galaxies and black holes, coupla nebulas and star-breeding stellar clouds, dwarf stars, pulsars, pretty much the usual skystuff, so went back in to get warm; I didn't really know what I was expecting, a lot of corner-of-the-eye redstreak falling stars per millisecond I guess, and then during the night I looked through the bedroom skylight whenever I drifted back near the wakeful shore, but saw nothing other than countless potentially life-forming solar systems sprinkled in great bubble-arcs cast across an incomprehensible distance by some unknown force an ungraspable time ago, and went back to sleep.

So it was with some misgiving that at the clanging of my specially set Leonid Meteor Alarm Clock I arose from toasty earthbound blankets at the unearthly hour of 4 am and went out into the cold night upon the deck across which blew a cutting prewintery wind, and laid down a futon for my sleeping bag into which I climbed with stellar haste and whence I looked up into the vast and unknown sea across which galleon earth is sailing, bearing all us galactic Columbuses.

I had turned all the lights out, and being up on the mountainside with no other houses around, and no streetlights, so it was dark, and the only light was the stars, the wind having blown the sky clear as fall winds do best, and there above my face was nothing but stars, as close as my nose in a way (what's a billion miles to a star? or for that matter to a nose?); seemed like so many more stars at 4am than at 10pm, eyes fresh from the light of dreams see so much more than eyes fresh from the light of waking, and there are so many more stars in skies than in skylights.

So I watched with freezing face as my eyes plunged into star-level darkness until there were clouds of stars, and then FLASH! A glowing opalescent tube stretched followably across perhaps one-third of the sky; then within seconds, another one and another, good ones, at about a rate of every thirty seconds or so.

One, streaking low down toward the east, seemed to bounce and then flash more brightly, almost as bright as lightning. This went on till around 5:30, when half the universe rolled over into daylight, taking me with it.

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