One of the things I love about science fiction is the ability to imagine other worlds and the possibilities in the immense universe in which we live. Growing up in rural Scotland, our long, dark, winter nights were the perfect canvas for my imagination. Staring at the stars there you could see the entire band of the milky way, and it always filled me with awe at the number of other stars and systems out there. My family did not share my passion for Star Wars or other science fiction, but one thing I do remember from my childhood is going out on a night and laying in the grass with my father as we stared up and watched meteors streak across the sky. We would talk about many things as we waited for nature’s light show to begin and we would scan the skies, waiting for the first meteors to shoot by, seeing who would be the first to spot one.
The Perseids meteor shower starts tonight and runs through the next few days. It was always my favorite as not only were there a hundred meteors per hour, making it almost guaranteed you would see a number, but often there would be ones that grazed the atmosphere, leaving long fiery tails across the sky. And so tonight I will be laying a blanket on the ground and lying on my back in the grass with my own two sons in New Hampshire, half a world away from where I grew up, and trying to share with them the excitement of a meteor shower. Hopefully, it will fire their imagination just as it did for me as a kid, and inspire my writing.
If you are interested in doing this yourself, there’s an article here. But it’s not as complicated as this makes it sound. My advice? If you too want to see this wonder of nature, just have some patience and look directly up. Laying down makes this more comfortable. Look away from the full moon, and just scan the skies – and despite what the article says, you don’t need to get up before dawn to see it. That’s when you see the most, but you’ll see plenty as soon as it’s dark. Happy meteor spotting!
“Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight: I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.” (traditional rhyme)