Meteor showers

I live with a man who is convinced he has the worst astronomical luck on the planet. In the 15 years I have known him, he tells me, he has never once seen the Perseid meteor shower. Not because he hasn’t tried. It’s either rained or been totally cloudy wherever he is. Every single time.

This year, we live in a place that has magnificent night skies. The lights of Oneonta, which might actually be a problem, are hidden behind Franklin Mountain. We’re also hidden from the lights of Delhi by mountains on the other side.

KB started grousing a week before the event was due. “It’ll rain,” he said “You watch.”


He was right.

It didn’t just rain. It was biblical. There was no chance those showers were going to let up and perhaps allow for some star watching when it was all over.

“I told you,” he said.

He didn’t even look angry. This is a man who has become resigned to his bad luck.

The next night wasn’t just clear, it was incredible. We flopped into the hammock, wrapped ourselves in two afghans (it was cold), and simply could not believe our eyes. It was one of those nights where stars behind stars behind stars, almost to infinity, were twinkling overhead.

We got very quiet. It was a lot to take in.

At first, there wasn’t much meteor action. But then they started darting across the sky, some just little things, others, long-tailed baby comets heading from one side of the sky to the other.

KB missed them. For the first half-hour, I’d ooh and aah and he’d swear. He’d be looking In the wrong part of the sky, and one would zip precisely where he wasn’t looking.

If it weren’t so horrible, it would have been funny.

But it got better. In fact, I got cold and went in the house. He followed about a half-hour later, announcing with satisfaction that he’d seen at least eight meteors.

The jinx isn’t over, but I suspect it smarts a bit less this year.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.