The Mast-Head: In a Dark Sky

A heck of a show

   It was fortuitous that the sky cleared late Sunday just as the last of the Perseid meteor shower tickled the upper atmosphere. With a college friend who was in town while one of his daughters was an intern at The Star, I was pleased to have been invited to watch a movie on a deck overlooking the ocean, then to stay on to see what stars would fall.
    There seemed two sorts of meteors in the sky as Sunday turned into Monday. One was a fast, yellow zip though the darkness; the other left a trail that lingered for a moment in a shower of sparks. Some seemed to run right down the center of the Milky Way, as if on a celestial road. It was a heck of a show.
    My friend Lenny and his daughters left around midnight; Leah, who has been an intern for about three weeks, had to be at work at 9 a.m. I stayed on as long as I could, though I was not the last among the group to leave. Meteors continued to race across the star-lit dome every now and then, though as their frequency diminished I began to think of bed and what I had to do the next day.
    Walking up Marine Boulevard to where I had left my truck, I was disappointed to see a pale glow to the west. From what I could tell the dawn-like tinge was from the myriad residential house lights of Beach Hampton, each doing their own little part to illuminate the sky inappropriately.
    The fact is, though, most of the sky was dark that night. Only occasional passing aircraft marred the seemingly infinite view. Leah, a Chicago kid, said she thought she had never even seen the Milky Way before. As I thought about this, the few lights at doorways bothered me just a little less.