The Draconids Meteor Shower happened this weekend, and last week, I was looking forward to it because I only have an hour of observing left to do to get the Meteor Club award. Unfortunately, on Sunday night when the peak occurred, we were clouded out.
Yesterday I read that radar in Canada had recorded an outburst of meteor activity with rates of 1,000 meteors an hour, even greater than last year’s outburst and five times that of 2005. I read there might be some residual activity last night and hoped to get a chance to go, but once again, we were clouded out.
But I wasn’t really up for going late last night. Sure, digging up all my winter clothes and the lawn chair and going out into the cold and dark is unpleasant enough. But what makes it really difficult for me is the drive. Many of the other guys in our club merely step out into their dark backyards and into their observing shacks and can observe for hours protected by the elements knowing that they have a bathroom just steps away in their nice, warm houses.
But for me, it’s always been a hassle because I have to drive to do any observing at all. Even the “backyard” observing programs, like the Universe Sampler, are impossible for me because, well, our house is in a very wooded neighborhood. It’s pretty, it’s like living in a forest, and right now, the colorful leaves everywhere make it a beautiful place. But there are only a few very patchy spots where I can look through the leaves and see any sky at all.
And even after all the leaves have fallen off the trees, there’s a mall just three blocks from here that’s lit up like the fourth of July, so there’s no dark observing whatsoever from here.
I look forward to Parmentier’s observing nights because otherwise, I’m observing from the sides of country roads, or from the access road behind Holy Cross Church. Amy’s lucky. She has at least some sky in her backyard, and better still, a city park with a baseball diamond is just a block away.
I’m sure living in the country with no trees in sight would be great for observing, but in the summer, these trees keep our house and yard shaded and cool, and right now, looking out my window, the leaves are sure beautiful. I’d really miss that.