Friday, 2 August 2013

Wish Upon a Star... Or Not...

Back in May we, more or less, rebuilt our garden.  It's not that big, but - with us having children - it wasn't exactly child-friendly.  There was a raised bit of grass at the back that had to be re-turfed every year because of frost and snow and dog, and a tired section of decking in dire need of some TLC.  The prospect of doing what my wife envisaged was as unattractive as the decking.

But then we did it.

The decking was ripped up.  The raised grass area was torn down.  A small brick flower bed, built by my wife, was knocked down and rebuilt over the other side, SOOOO many slabs were laid and then the fake grass went down.  We were going to seed, but we had our children's birthday party coming (with barbecue) and needed it ready.  Fake grass is brilliant.  Easy to lay, easy to clean.  I don't mow it, I hoover it!


I've always been interested in space.  And science.  And, as you'll know, gadgets and science-fiction.  I'm enthralled by the stars and the life that must, somewhere, circle them.

But I've never seen a shooting star.  Not once, not ever.  It's strange how that's the case, when I spend so much time looking at the heavens.  Even when I know that this month, August, is a prime time for meteor showers and shooting stars aplenty light up the night sky, I've yet to witness the spectacle, and to make the required wish.  Saying that, I struggle now to know what to wish for - my life is pretty much complete.

In late July through to August we are treated to the Perseid Meteor Shower.  I know this.  I've known this for many years.

The Swift-Tuttle comet, zooming happily along on its 130 year orbit, shares some of itself with us and we have showers that can reach around 60 shooting stars seen in an hour.  Once, there was a peak of 173!  That must have seemed like the stars were almost raining down.

The Perseids are so called as they tend to appear to start from the region of the constellation of Perseus and the word derives from Greek mythology (another interest of mine).  The word Perseides refers to the sons of Persus.

Perseus was the first of the Greek heroes and the demi-god (his father being Zeus) who killed the Gorgon Medusa and rescued Andromeda from the Kraken sent by Poseidon.

August is the month where the sky celebrates this hero with a spectacular show.  Which I've not, as I may have mentioned, seen.

The weather recently has been what you might call inconsistent.  It can be sweaty-hot in the morning, thundering in the afternoon and cold at night.  The rain can hammer down and be gone in a few minutes.  Last night, though, it was lovely.  The sky was clear, it was warm, and at around 11:30 pm, my wife and I were laid on the grass (it's still grass even though it's plastic) drinking a glass of wine and looking at the stars.  Well, we were when we unplugged the security light to stop it going off every time I pointed upwards.

I was pointing out the constellations - Cassiopeia, The Great Bear (or Plough, or Big Dipper) and so on.  I explained about how the light from them took so long to reach us, we were effectively staring into the past.  Our ten year old daughter heard us talking and came out to join us (it's the school holidays - she can have a lie in).  Suddenly my wife exclaimed, my daughter yelped and jumped and I thought our dog had stood on her.

She'd seen a shooting star.  I'd been looking at her as she was talking and not at the sky.  I'd missed it!  The perfect night to see such a thing, and I missed it.

I don't know if I'm destined to never see one.  Maybe so.  But, it's August and apparently there's a good chance - as there has been every year for the past 2000 years or more - of seeing quite a few.

I just hope, with the weather being unable to make up its mind and settle on what it wants to be, that it's not cloudy until September!

If you've seen one, want to, or have made a wish upon one, let me know.  Go on, rub it in!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely story Shaun, maybe one day you will see one :)

    Scarlett xXx