There is virtually no chance that I will wake up in the middle of the night this week to watch the Perseid meteor shower. Sleep for me these days is a precious commodity, interrupted many times as it is. I don't think I'm going to wake up on purpose to watch some stars. Meteors. Whatever. If I do wake up, I might peek out; but if I have a choice, I'd rather stay asleep.
That said, I love to watch the night sky. I'm lucky enough to live in a sparsely populated little town with not much street lighting and have a backyard with a lovely view of the sky (and a generous slice of the San Gabriel Mountains, specifically Mount Lukens at the edge of the Angeles National Forest.) I've spent many late nights with the Tiny Goddess in our hot tub after parties and concerts, looking up at the dark velvet sky, trying to find the Big Dipper and the North Star.
I have a big set of binoculars I use to watch the sky at night. I've had them for more than forty years, when I watched the full moon from the window in our living room in our first apartment in Yonkers. I've been to the Griffith Park Observatory and the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the old Hayden Planetarium of the Museum of Natural History in New York. For many years, I had a big photograph of distant galaxies from the Hubble Telescope hung in my office, just to remind myself (unsuccessfully) how insignificant my existence is.
The TG and I are planning a vacation in the outdoors. Shockingly, there are no museums or ballets or shows involved. Instead, one of the big items on our list is "star-gazing." Astronomical conditions were nearly perfect for this year's annual Perseid meteor shower. According to the Griffith Observatory, the greatest numbers of meteors were seen during the night of Wednesday, August 12, through dawn on Thursday morning with meteors increasing in number until the dawn broke. Perseid meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but they all seem to come from the direction of Perseus the Hero, under the "W" shape of the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen. The "crooked W" of Cassoipeia is one of the few constellations that I can regularly find.
So since I'm NOT staying up to see the meteor showers – and presuming that most of you out there aren't either – I've gathered some videos of meteor showers to take the place of actual, late-night observation. (Sure.)
[Warning: a lot of these meteor shower videos feature horrible background music – New Age or muzak – so be prepared to mute your speakers.]
A time-lapsed video of the Perseid meteor shower in 2012
Another video on the Perseids from 2013
A video about the Leonids – another meteor shower
The Lyrid meteor shower in 2013
Meteor shower compilation
Meteor shower in Eastern Russia – 2/15/13
and – for good measure – a gorgeous live version of Nat "King" Cole singing "Stardust"
(And I didn't go to see Jason Isbell at the Wiltern – to my eternal regret. But Clayton Kershaw pitched a gem.)
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – "Cigarettes and Wine" live