Note From Jon


Monday, January 7, 2008

"I get a wish for each shooting star, right?" - Mary

What’s that Mary? Only three days in and I’m in danger of missing the best meteor shower of 2008? Well if 2008 is going to be the best year ever (and hopefully everyone is still thinking it will be at this point!) I’d better check out the Quadrantids…

Apparently this year everything was perfectly aligned for a viewing. And by everything I specifically mean Dave having the day off on Friday so he volunteered to drive the slumber bus. Perhaps even more impressive than the meteors was having us all spot Mars and wave a Happy Fourth Anniversary up to Spirit, still plugging away on the surface.

While I’ve got some notes below to hone any future star gazing experiences, it’s awfully hard to complain about spending the night bundled with good friends, chatting, and gleefully exclaiming each time one of the dozens of meteors we saw streaked across the sky (can they really just be particles the size of sand grains igniting in the atmosphere!?!)

If the last couple of nights are any indication, maybe 2008 really will be the Best. Year. Ever.

Notes to Jon:

  • Raven Rocks Rd out past Purcellville is not an ideal viewing spot (unless you’re up for hopping barbed wire fence). The entire road is lined with houses, fences or Posted No Trespassing signs. And there’s a depressing amount of light pollution out there.

  • Don’t forget to stop for hot beverages before you leave all the mega gas stations behind.

  • When borrowing Darren’s air mattress… remember that he doesn’t store the pump with the mattress…

  • When your roommate has two cases of foot warmers sitting around the house… grab a few before spending three hours out in 17 degree weather no matter how many layers you’ve got on.

  • Charge the batteries on your camera… and the backup set

  • If a pole is obstructing your view… pretend it’s a sailboat mast!

  • And never let a few hours of sleep get in the way of an unforgettable experience surveying the stars with friends…

  • The Meteroid (or Asteroid, depending on size) is the object in space, the Meteor (or Fireball, depending on brightness) is the visible event that is seen, and the Meteorite is any part of the Meteroid remaining on the ground after impact. Ironically, I looked these up not in conjunction with this trip but when a verse from Joanna Newsome's song “Emily” defined them poetically (though perhaps incorrectly depending on your opinion).

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