One of our family's favorite things to do is to lie out on the trampoline at night and look at the stars.
Yes, we do have cable, a Wii, and the internet - but still this is one of our favorite past-times.
You might say we live simply here in the woods.
Star gazing is something we have done for several years. Hope and Adam have even joined on us occasion. Kind of a rite of passage thing.
We have laid out under the stars in the dead of winter wrapped in blankets and huddled together - and like last night, we have laid out under the stars in the heat of the night fighting over who gets to lay next to Joel because the mosquitoes are drawn to his Axe body spray.
We have seen several shooting stars over the years and have had many wonderful conversations while waiting to see one. Ah, the family memories we have made.
Megan: I saw one.
Brian: That was a lightning bug.
Joel: These mosquitoes won't leave me alone.
Levi: That's because you smell like a dirty butt. Wait a minute, I think I smell like a dirty butt.
Me: You both smell like a dirty butt. Go lay next to Dad.
August is one of the best times of years to see shooting stars. The Perseids occur in August and, in fact, tonight and tomorrow night are peak nights!
This is the most famous of all meteor showers. It never fails to provide an impressive display and, due to its summertime appearance, it tends to provide the majority of meteors seen by non-astronomy enthusiasts.
This meteor shower gets the name "Perseids" because it appears to radiate from the constellation Perseus. An observer in the Northern Hemisphere can start seeing Perseid meteors as early as July 23, when one meteor every hour or so could be visible. During the next three weeks, there is a slow build-up. It is possible to spot five Perseids per hour at the beginning of August and perhaps 15 per hour by August 10. The Perseids rapidly increase to a peak of 50-80 meteors per hour by the night of August 12/13 and then rapidly decline to about 10 per hour by August 15. The last night meteors are likely to be seen from this meteor shower is August 22, when an observer might see a Perseid every hour or so.
For observers in the Southern Hemisphere, the Perseid radiant never climbs above the horizon, which will considerably reduce the number of Perseid meteors you are likely to see. Nevertheless, on the night of maximum, it is possible to see 10-15 meteors per hour coming up from the northern horizon.
There are other, weaker meteor showers going on around the same time as the Perseids, but the Perseids will generally appear to move much faster across the sky than meteors from the other showers. In fact, the Perseids are among the fastest moving meteors we see every year. Another way to know if the meteor you saw was a Perseid is to mentally trace the meteor backwards. If you end up at Perseus then you have probably seen a Perseid meteor!
Last night we saw five meteors - one large and four smaller.
Almost as exciting as seeing a meteor is seeing a satellite scoot across the sky. We even saw the space station one night. No kidding, we really did.
The plan tonight is to go to bed and set our alarms for 1 am when we will rendezvous on the trampoline in the back yard. We will then bleary-eyed stare at the sky, laugh at Dad snoring, swat mosquitoes, and enjoy being together.