"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Star Light, Star Bright

It’s that time of year again, the Perseid meteor shower. In the past I’ve ventured out on cloudy nights and seen nothing. I’ve also dragged Mrs Kitsch out a number of times to watch the skies with me; on one memorable occasion we sat freezing on deck chairs in the middle of the night, on the seashore wrapped in our coats and for extra warmth covered in towels from the B&B we were staying in. We saw a fair number of shooting stars that night as I remember but mostly I remember being very cold.

This year the weather was much warmer, the meteor shower was at a much more reasonable time; between 10.30pm and 1am rather than 2am to 3am previously; and we get a pretty good view of the sky from just outside the house, so it’s very handy. However, none of this was incentive enough for Mrs Kitsch this time round. I think she may have had her fill of the Pereids. Saying that, she did come out and check on me at one point tonight, which was lovely of her.

Although it was quite cloudy when I first went out this evening, the clouds soon disappeared leaving a relatively clear sky. I saw about a dozen shooting stars in about two hours and only came in when I couldn’t stand stretching my neck skyward any longer and my feet were aching. I expect there are loads of shooting stars shooting over head as I’m writing this but I just can’t carry on tonight. And a dozen is pretty good. Number five was particularly amazing, a very bright tear ripping through the night sky, gone in a flash but burning an image in my mind that will last much longer.

Apart from a number of satellites and planes, the night sky also yielded some geese flying in a “V” formation, white against the black of the sky, one of them saying hello as they flew overhead, making that unmistakable goose “honk” noise. And they weren’t the only wild life out there tonight. When I first stepped out I saw Mr Badger trolling along the pavement, going out of one garden and into another. He wasn’t the only one doing his nightly rounds this evening as Mr Fox also put in an appearance, walking right in front of me. There were a lot of moths out tonight as well.

So all in all, a worthwhile effort, even if I only manage to see a handful of shooting stars. And there’s always next year at this time.


  1. Rick and Michael were also "neck-stretching" last night and came back inside for the very same reason that you did. They were in the garden for about an hour, coming in just after midnight.

    Their tally was as follows : 7 shooting stars, 3 satellites, and 1 chinese lantern ( confirmed through the binoculars ). As for wildlife it was only snails on the patio.

    Venus, as usual for this time of year, was also present. ( There was no mention of Uranus )

  2. I'm sorry - I should know better. It's pronounced Urine-us.

  3. You should be ashamed. Glad you mentioned the lanterns. I saw a few of those too but forgot to mention it in the blog. And you are right about Venus, it is very bright at the moment. Keep watching the skies.