On tuesday night we went out looking for Perseids. The shower doesn't peak until late this weekend, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't expect to catch a few early birds. We doused ourselves in bug spray, sneaked over to one of the college's unlit athletic fields, and lay down atop a blanket spread out over the damp grass. Though my engagement with amateur astronomy has continued to grow over the past few years, and I can find my way around the sky a whole lot better than I was ever able to as a kid, it seems like ages since I'd gone out to simply look at the stars equipped with no technology beyond my indiglo wristwatch, and no agenda beyond counting (and maybe wishing upon) shooting stars. It's really something I should do more often.
Oberlin is a small enough town that the Milky Way is faintly visible on clear nights...even within city limits...well...not on Main Street of course...or around the Science Center...and you usually have to shade your eyes from the glare of a street light or two...but it's there! When Rob and I first visited Oberlin together in the spring of 2012, I remember stepping out of the car and being dazzled by the relative darkness. I was an NU student at the time and all too accustomed to Chicago's limited palette of half-a-dozen stars. Goosebumps lit up my arms as I imagined having so many stars in our regular backyard sky.
Back to our secret campout: we did see a few meteors...one or two likely Perseids...traced some constellations, and marveled at the number of satellites milling around overhead. Though the current forecast is not exactly encouraging, I've got my fingers crossed for at least one more good clear night for meteor watching over the next several days.