Thursday, August 18, 2011

Missing the Perseids

Despite the popularity of the Perseid meteor shower, I have never been fortunate enough to witness its full splendor. Being an astronomer at heart, I've always been watching out for upcoming celestial events, especially these numerous meteor showers that annually visit our atmosphere. I've seen just a few of them, the best of which was the Leonid meteor shower in 1997. My experience can be read here:  The Painting in the Sky.

As to Perseids, I've never seen it in my whole life in the Philippines. The month of August in this tropical country is a rainy and typhoon-battered period, when the sky is thick with dark storm clouds. So I had no chance at all to have even a little glimpse of it.

Here, I missed it last year on account of the cloudy night that time. This year, in August 12 and 13, would be my chance to see it as the sky was clear. But then, the full moon was out and its intense brightness intervened and blocked the meteors from exuding their luminous streaks. Furthermore, past midnight is still a little bright here, though a few stars and constellations are visible.

Regardless of such conditions, I went out to our back patio anyway, desperate to see something remarkable in the sky. The night was a little cold but I waited patiently for some minutes. I saw at least three small meteors dashing swiftly across the sky. Not much of a spectacle. Even then, that night was not altogether devoid of celestial show. The moon burst in glorious radiance despite the thin bands of clouds that tried to mask its face, and thus illuminated even the far reaches of the night sky.

Looking closely above that silver disk, I noticed a band of light arching over it, and wooh!, I got so excited to the point that my hands almost quivered as I mounted my camera on the tripod. This is my short-exposure shot of the moon.

Then I tried another shot with a longer exposure, precisely 60 sec.

In this image, the moon has moved to the right, and I took this long-exposure shot, which also captured some star trails nearby,  before saying goodbye to these brilliant sky shows.  

I may have missed the Perseid meteor shower's supposedly spectacular appearance, but I was compensated by the astronomical beauty and radiance that graced that night. Then I went to bed and slept pleasantly among the stars.

“Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing." 
- Isaiah 40:26