Night Sky Happenings

November 28, 1999

We had a quick dash over the river and through the woods to grandma's and grandpa's for turkey day. Fact of the matter is, we round tripped the 500 miles or so in just over 24 hours, so as to not miss a hockey tournament for youngest son.

Personally, I could have done without the hockey; it would have been nice to chill in the North Country.

As it was however, this was a weekend for wanderings of sorts in the night sky.

Grandpa has a new toy, a computer controlled telescope, and we were able to take a few moments on Wed night to gaze into the universe.

The moon was full and bright, so much so, that we could not look at it directly. I never figured you could blind yourself by moonlight, but now I know better.

First we stopped and saw the rings of Saturn . I have to tell you, that for as many times as I have seen the pictures in books or on the web or wherever, the actual seeing it with your own eyes, made a huge impression on me and my son. Son still talks about it, two or three days later. Being as cold as it was, most of the star gazers only lasted a few minutes, but daughter and I stayed to see a couple of other true treasures, the moons of Jupiter, and the andromeda galaxy.

The next night while on the drive home, I was traversing a very dark stretch of the country side when I turned on my blinker and make a quick turn down a dirt road. Spouse immediately wants to know, "Where in the world are you going?"

"Fred and Georgia Starvonovich live down here," I said. "I've always wanted to go see them."

Mrs says, Forget Fred and Georgia, I want to go home. We can do this another time."

NSR pulls the mini-van off to the side of the road.

"What are we stopping for Dad?"

Headphones come off the heads, and life appears in the back seats. Everyone knows the drill, and the road is straight and there are no turns to be made.

Getting out to look at the stars I said, I wanted to get away from any lights from the cars.

They all piled out to view the Milky Way, and we spotted Jupiter and Saturn. Two new friends we all have.

Fred and Georgia would have to wait for another day.

Tonight I started another night time project, the annual Clark Grizwald let's see how many lights we can put out on the house at Christmas.

While straddling the roof I had two visitors. First a gaggle of geese flew by, and serenaded me with their honking. Then about 5 minutes later, the black roof around me suddenly lit up with a massive flash of light. I looked up puzzled, for this is not the time of year to have a thunderstorm. Snowstorm yes, but thunder and lightning no.

Turns out I witnessed the most spectacular meteor I have ever seen, blaze its way from north to south across the ink of the night.

All in all, I'd say it was a great couple of days for happenings in the night sky.

I guess that makes a few more things for which I am thankful.