Not gigantic balls of gas and fire in a gunfight, no, but chunks of rock hurtling through the edges of outer space. I recently overheard that there was supposed to be a meteor shower happening in the late night of November 16, early morning of 17, so I decided that I would try to watch it. I had never seen actual meteors before; I only had an idea of what they are and look like because of media. So, yesterday I ate dinner at around 17:30 or so and promptly went to bed to be wakened at around 1:00 the next morning by an alarm; while I really wanted to see some meteors, I also really needed some sleep. I have noticed that resting is much easier and more comfortable immediately after eating a meal, which is why I did so.
Before I went to bed, I was somewhat dismayed by my lack of binoculars... I had been wanting some near-sighted ones to use in watching insects from a distance that will not incite them to flee from me, and even a pair intended for relatively close distances would probably be useful for watching the night sky. But, surprise! Christmas came a bit early this year. Soon after I began lying in bed, my grandma came in with a suspicious box and revealed that she had already purchased a pair of binoculars for me to use, which was intended to be given to me in late December!
Soon before 2:00, after eating breakfast and learning how these new binoculars work, I went to the grass of my backyard with a flashlight, the binoculars, and a sleepingbag, wearing a green bathrobething beneath a pair of sweats pants, a shirt, and a hoodie, and also shoes and socks. Lying on the sleepingbag (and moving to within the sleepingbag after a while when I wanted to be warmer), I stared at the sky for the next couple hours. In my backyard, my eastern view is blocked by my house, so I could not see Leo, the constellation from which the meteors are supposed to originate; but there was also no moon in my sight, giving me a clear view.
Before I saw any meteors, and sporadically between sightings, I used my binoculars to look at the stars; many are invisible without them. Many star formations, imagining images composed of them like constellations... In the southern area of my vision, behind Orion, there was a particular light that demanded my attention: it sometimes seemed to flicker between faintly different colors, and it was quite bright. If I focused on it with the binoculars in just the right way... it seemed like a comet!! A dark brown blob on the western end, shifting through orange into a light-blue tail on the eastern end! From my perspective, it was still extremely tiny, with the details only visible through the binoculars: if I were to compare it to a quarter (US currency) held ten centimetres from my left eyeball, it was about as long as George Washington's hair at its widest point, and about as wide as the height of any of the larger letters encircling him. There was also an odd streak of light-grey perpendicular to its length, centred on the 'comet.'
I thought it was a comet at first glance, and I am still excited about having seen it, but... it never moved. It remained in the exact same location relative to the other lights of the sky, moving only with the stars beside it. I could consistently find it again and again throughout the morning. It appears to have been some other heavenly body that happens to look like what I imagine a comet possibly being. Sometime much later, I focused on another object that looked quite similar, but thinner, and without the odd streak of grey. I wonder exactly what it might have been...
As my hands became colder, I hid them under the sleepingbag to just look at the whole sky in general. The first meteor I saw was somewhere on the northern side, going west. As with any meteor, it was a thin streak of white that did not last long, only just less than a second. This is one of very few times that I can say that I was truly excited, throughout the night! Bah, I need not your parties and football games and screaming and whatever it is people usually do for excitement; I get excited by finding and staring at things. Fascinating things.
I did not count how many I saw in total, but I know that I saw more than ten! A couple were rather bright and relatively long lasting; some were instantaneous and faint. One in particular was really bright and dragged across the sky for at least two seconds! People who have seen meteors often throughout their lives would probably consider this a light shower, but as this was my first, it was very worthwhile!
Another thing worth mentioning is that, starting around the middle of my vision, I noticed a series of stars that almost seemed to form a spiral, like this. It was interesting to see how they might fit together like that. After closely examining a particular one of its lights, which was one of the brightest, if not the brightest, in the sky I could see, I am convinced that there were two sources of light in that same spot; could it have been a binary system? Fascinating observations! (Perhaps if I actually studied astronomy regularly, I would know more about what I was seeing).
After what was probably over a couple hours (I did not have a clock, and I do not know how to interpret the stars for the time), I decided to go back inside, satisfied. But! the doors were locked, and I did not want to wake people in order to get in. So, I tested out my new binoculars on the raspberry plant in my backyard. I tried to hold the binoculars and flashlight at the same time, with the flashlight fitted under and between the two main lenses and held with my thumb. These binoculars are extremely effective! Looking through them at near enough objects - it can focus on things as close as 0.5 metres away - is like looking at them up close with a powerful magnifying glass, which means that it is even *more* effective than staring at something eyeball-to-compoundeye, as long as I can keep it steady. And it seems that the raspberry leaves have much crystalline frost on them!
At some point, I sat on this electrical box thing in the corner and pointed the binoculars toward the ground near the raspberry bush. After staring at it for a while, I noticed something just beneath the ground through a crack: some sort of scaly-textured skin or something, immediately next to the box. Removing a bit of dirt revealed a small slug! I picked it up and put it on the box and watched with the binoculars as it slowly expanded from its huddled hiding position and slimed off of the box.
After that, I turned around and saw that the lights in the house were on, so I went back inside. After some knocking, my brother opened the door reluctantly and with strange looks (I think that he was not aware that I was stargazing). Apparently, the time was nearing 5:30; I had been out there in the middle of the night (morning) for over three hours. I then ate a muffin, had a shower (heh, my second one of the day!), and started writing this. And now I have seen meteors!