Monday, December 14, 2009

Stars Light Stars Bright

Last week VOICES' Chanukah issue came out. And though I haven't uploaded the expanded version of Voices to the web yet, or uploaded some of the many videos waiting to get up onto the website, I have felt an easing up of the pressure on me around deadline time, B"H.
With my drop more free time, I am determined to do some great things this Chanukah.
And so when Efrat astronomy buff Tom Rosenfeld told our community email list that a Geminid meteor shower would take place tonight, I decided to go out and watch it.
According to NASA, "The Geminids are expected to put on a good show this year. Created as planet Earth sweeps through dusty debris from extinct comet Phaethon, the annual Geminid meteor shower is predicted to peak on December 14th..The meteor streak points back to the constellation Gemini and the shower's radiant point, just off the upper left edge of the scene. Along with Rigel, the sword and belt stars of Orion are at the upper right. Near the eastern horizon are bright stars Procyon (left) and Sirius."
Very excited to see if the meteors had begun falling, I popped out in front of my house and saw nothing. Then I wrote to my email list asking, "What should I do? I don't see anything?" Someone responded, "Find the darkest place to keep watch."
I put on my coat, jumped into the car and started driving around my community at 12:45 AM, trying to find a dark spot. Where was everyone? I didn't see any other star gazers? Where were you guys?
I found a darkish spot near the Neve Shmuel building in the Te'ena. I grabbed my camera, got out of the car and looked up. Wow! I snapped photo after photo of the beautiful sight.
I watched in awe as one meteor (or was it a star) looked as if it were falling from the sky.
I could have watched forever, but not there. I sort of got the creeps on the deserted street, and I drove around Efrat looking for another spot. I found two on Rechov Netzach Yerushalayim and took more photos. I was amazed how bright and beautiful the meteors were. I saw another dart shoot across the sky. Very cool stuff!
Then I came home to download my photos, and they more or less don't show anything. Above you see what the sky is supposed ot look like (and that's actually what I saw), and at left, you see what my camera saw. I guess there are some things that just don't translate into a photo.
I stayed out for about 20 minutes watching the sky. I said the blessing "oseh maaseh bereishit", thanking He who created such phenomena in the world.
And now that I've seen something extraordinary LIGHTING up the Chanukah sky, I'm off to sleep.
Thanks to Tom Rosenfeld and Jonathan Segal. Happy holiday of lights.

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