Look up, way up.
As a little girl I stood tight beside my Dad, our backs pressed up against the brick wall of our house, our heads craned upwards, watching, waiting for Sputnik to pass over our night sky. He was a keen astronomer from his youth so while we waited in the cool night air for the Soviet satellite, Dad took the time to point out the Pole Star, Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Arcturus, Sirius, Orion, Alpha Centauri and anything else visible on a clear night. He always was the first to spot the moving point of light arcing across the sky above us.
"There, look there," his finger stabbing the sky above us, "there it is. Sputnik!"
"I see it Daddy, I see it!" I squealed.
Then silence, a deafening silence engulfed us, my little hand clutched inside of his big one. I'm not sure who had the tighter grip as we watched, eyes then bodies turning to follow the alien orbit until it disappeared out of sight. "Amazing...absolutely amazing..." Dad whispered.
The night sky is one of the few places left that still holds a profound sense of mystery. One of the joys of living in the rural routes is seeing the sky in all her glorious light. When I look up into that blanket of darkness pin-pricked with twinkling lights I am always awestruck, almost overcome with wonder and uncertainty, reverence and skepticism, amazement and bewilderment. And one other emotion lurks in the background - a prickling of fear, that ancient human angst that rises in the darkness of night.
Yet, come mid-August every year, anticipation builds in my heart. The night sky is about to put on its annual show of wonder. The remnants of comet Swift-Tuttle glide overhead in a festival of shooting stars, the Perseid meteor shower. Today I searched out the details of this year's show for my location. Click here, then fill in your location to get the picture for your area.
Sky conditions permitting, I will be outside in the early minutes of Monday, August 13, my back against the wall just as Dad taught me, eyes on the sky. And probably I'll be humming this gem from Perry Como, released in 1957, the year Sputnik1 and Sputnik2 were launched.
Perhaps this time, I just might catch a falling star...
©2018 April Hoeller