Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Aurigid Meteor Shower

Photo of Aurigid Meteor shower by wisforworlddominatio on Flickr

This morning we got up at 3:00 AM. The occasion was the Aurigid Meteor shower. This photo was taken by member of Flickr. I didn't take any photos myself of this event. Meteor showers are best viewed with the naked eye, with as wide a field of vision as possible. If you are concentrating on looking through a camera viewfinder, or binoculars, you are not likely to see much of the festivities.

About a year ago, I read an article about this meteor shower. It does not often yield good viewing results. However, the placement of the earth's orbit, and the location of dust trail from the comet that left the space debris, matched up just right for what promised to be a spectacular meteor shower.

Last year, I dreamed of getting as far away from city lights as possible to view the meteor shower. I thought Monument Valley, in the extreme Southeast corner of Utah sounded good. There is a nice lodge down there called Gouldings. It would have been nice to stay there and view the meteor shower from there.

However, certain realities have come to bear. Financially, a trip like that just wasn't in the cards. We also had some other obligations that made it difficult to get away this weekend.

Instead, we drove up to the Snow Basin ski resort, just outside of Huntsville, Utah. When I was in the area last week, I noticed that it would be a good place for star gazing. It provided a particularly good view toward the Northeast, and was away from city lights - both requirements to see the Aurigids, as they are called.

We arrived at the viewing area at about 4:45 AM. We broke out the lawn chairs, and our jackets and blankets. I'm not sure what the elevation was, but I would guess that it was somewhere around 6-7000 feet. The temperature was somewhere in the 40's.

Almost immediately, we saw our first meteor. They were pretty constant. We probably saw about one per minute on average. We brought some bagels, yogurt, and juice with us to have an early breakfast as we watched the meteor shower.

The Peak of the meteor shower was supposed to be at 5:37 AM. Within a couple of minutes of the peak, we saw the most spectacular meteor. An exceptionally bright one was streaking across the sky, when it split into three parts. It was like nature's fireworks.

As it got closer to 6:00 AM it was starting to get light. We packed up our things, and continued on into the town of Huntsville, Utah. Just outside of Huntsville, there is a Trappist Monastery. We had never visited there before. We arrived at about 6:45 AM, and learned that there was a daily Mass conducted there at 6:30 AM each day. There were even a few cars in the parking lot, that we assumed belonged to worshipers. They have a gift shop there, and apparently they sell honey there. Bryan wanted some of the creamed, cinnamon honey. We would have too, except the store didn't open until 10:00 AM.

As we headed back to Huntsville, from the Monastery, I drove up to the place where I had parked my truck, just over a week ago, and called Dawn Ann to learn about the results of her biopsy. It was here that I first learned of her breast cancer. Huntsville will never be the same to me again. That spot, in some ways, has become a sacred spot to me. Perhaps that is how it is with places in which we have life-changing experiences. It is a place in which I came to realize how much more I need to depend on the Lord, for the life, health, and future of our family.

We retraced our steps from Huntsville, past Snow Basin Ski Resort and on home again. Both Bryan and Amy conked out in the back seat of the car. We listened to the KSL Outdoors radio show to keep away on the way home.

We arrived home at about 8:45 AM. We all promptly crashed and took naps until about noon. It was worth it though. The meteor shower was really fun. The time together invaluable. I hope the kids will always remember the time we got up at 3:00 IN THE MORNING! to view the meteor shower.

Since Dawn Ann's diagnosis, I have made a determination that I want to have a few fun family outings between now and the time of her surgery. It might be quite some time before Dawn Ann feels like getting out and about once the surgery has taken place.

I also want to make a point of us having a little time together for a day or two sometime before her surgery. Perhaps we'll celebrate our anniversary (October 18th) a little early this year!

No comments: