Sunday, August 10, 2014
big moon and shooting stars
Get outside tonight and look up.
You are going to be witness to two -- count them, two -- big astronomical events. A super moon and a meteor shower. The fact that one will overpower the other is just the way nature works.
The term "super moon," of course, is one of those media abominations. Nothing can be just what it is. It needs to be extraordinary. Especially, in the northern land where everybody is above average.
You may recall the last time Mexpatriate talked about, and gazed at, the last super moon in Bend was the night of my mother's unintended starring role in "Evil and the Night Visitor" -- (COPS comes to bend). That was July. And the moon was reported to appear larger than it had since 1993.
Here we are, a month later, and the astronomers tell us that tonight's moon will seem even larger. In the polling business, we would call it within the margin of error. That means: "not that you would notice."
I took a look at the moon on Saturday night. It was bright. It was beautiful. After all, it is the moon. That chunk of rock that we have all built dreams around.
But "super?" Not so much.
Having said that, here is my advice: don't miss it. Go outside tonight when the moon coming over the horizon (just about sunset), and you will swear it could gobble up a good portion of the horizon.
The other spectacular scheduled for tonight is a heady show of the annual Perseid meteor shower. The earth will pass through a debris cloud left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. At its height, 100 meteors per hour will streak across the sky.
That is, 100 meteors can be seen under optimum viewing conditions. A super moon hogging the sky stage is not optimum. In Sunday school, we might sing about letting our little lights shine. But, the little lights will go unnoticed tonight.
Astronomers predict the show rate will be 15 to 25 per hour. That should be good enough to spend time on a warm summer night with someone you love. I am going to see if Mama Croc is available.
After all, a super moon and shooting stars are a free show not to be missed. Even though one steps on the other's lines.
Maybe it is a Mexico thing. Trying to accomplish two things in one night is simply indulgent.
So, enjoy the timpani rolls of the moon. And consider the meteors to be the harp accompaniment.