COPING WITH CORONA WITH A LITTLE MAGIC IN THE SKY WITH MY COZY PINK FLEECE BLANKET

I love a good meteor shower. I love any meteor shower. Last night, I decided to shake it up a little. I stayed up late to get my best shot of seeing the Lyrid meteor shower, which was supposed to be best between the hours of 2 AM and 5 AM. I just knew I would never get up early to see it, so it was much better for this ol’ night owl to see it LATE at night instead.

I went outside through my front door with my cozy little pink fleece blanket, as I knew I would have the best shot to see the Lyrid Meteor Showers facing the East or Northeast direction of the sky looking straight up. I knew everyone else was asleep in the neighborhood, so I put my blanket down on the grass and lay across it so I could look directly up into the sky. It had been a year or so since I’ve been supine across a blanket looking up into the night sky for the meteor shower. Normally I just “catch a glimpse” of it, but this year I wanted to see it in all its glory. Let me tell you, there are LOTS of sounds in the night at 2:00 AM in suburban America. I heard the wind swaying the Palmetto fronds with a slow and methodical swish swish sound. I heard animals in the distance and realized I wasn’t quite sure if snakes sleep at night or are most active. I couldn’t help but think that my warm body was a perfect place for a slithering reptile to crawl up against, thinking I was some type of heat rock. I tried not to let that dim my excitement, but I decided after a while it probably wasn’t the best idea being in the middle of my front yard, all alone, at 2 AM. I convinced myself to stay for fifteen minutes, and then I would go back inside where I, and any other sane person, belonged. T minus fourteen….T minus thirteen…..T minus twelve……holding my breath, waiting in anticipation, waiting for a little magic in the night sky to take my breath away. T minus eleven…..T minus ten….now WHAT was I thinking…..T minus nine…..T minus eight…….WAIT……THERE IT IS! Right before my eyes, I saw a dart of bright light race across the sky, my sky, in the blink of an eye. It was bright, bold, and beautiful. If I had been looking in another direction, I surely would have missed it. Isn’t that like everything in life, I thought to myself. One has to be ready, willing, and able, to use a colloquial expression, to see the magic, to see the beauty, to see the opportunities spread out before oneself. I decided seeing one big beautiful streak of light was well worth the wait and ventured back inside my house, back into my comfort zone.

About ten minutes later, I decided I would step out of my comfort zone once again, even for fifteen minutes, to see more of the night sky in all its splendor. I went back outside but this time leaned against the porch in case any slithering reptiles decided to inch their way towards me. Again, when I stepped out of my comfort zone, I was rewarded with seeing two more trails of light before my eyes. This time, they were not as bold and bright but beautiful nonetheless. I tried not to compare them to the showing I had just a little while earlier in the same sky and to accept them for what they were: a little slice of magic in the night sky, revealed to me after I stepped out of my comfort zone.

When I was thinking about my expectations for that second jaunt outside to see the meteor shower again, I immediately thought of the lyrics to one of Bruce Springsteen’s songs…..

“Show a little faith; there’s magic in the night,
You ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright,
Oh and that’s alright with me….”

-“Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen

The lighter set of streaks in the sky, I knew right away, were “alright with me” because there WAS “magic” in the night last night to be sure. I can’t wait to see the Perseid Meteor Showers again in August. I’ll even mark it on my calendar this year.

Life is good. Step out of your comfort zone whenever you can to discover or experience something new, or to discover something all over again. Life is good; life is a gift.

Carpe diem, friends……………………..

ID 173767577 © Lunartsstudio, ID 123749459 © Mahod84 | Dreamstime.com

LIFE THROUGH A LENS….”SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND”

It always amazes what I don’t know that I don’t know. With both a whole wide world and a world wide web around me and with access to a barrage of information at any given point in the day, I am always amazed at what I have missed. When I was in elementary school, we were told that Saturn’s rings were comprised of rock. I’m not sure if we even knew there is a great deal of ice in the rings of Saturn at that time. Evidently a whole lot has happened since then. I knew we had sent several probes to Saturn over the last years, but I somehow missed how much information was gathered during the last exploration of Saturn.

It was in 1979 that we first saw Saturn and just a few of its moons in a series of flyby shots from the Pioneer 11 spacecraft. The images were blurry and not good enough to get information about Saturn’s surface.

In 1980 Voyager I did another flyby of Saturn and some of its moons, giving us much better images. We saw the surface features of some moons and atmosphere.

In 1981, Voyager 2 again showed us some more photos and temperature findings as well. We saw that the rings of Saturn had changed as well.

Saturn, courtesy of Dreamstime.com

In was in 1997 that the Titan spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral and carried the Cassini craft that was tasked to find out new information about Saturn, the ringed planet that is the seventh planet away from the sun. In 2002, twenty months from reaching Saturn, the probe captured its first image of Saturn. In 2004, Cassini discovered two new moons around Saturn (Methone and Pallene) to total sixty moons around Saturn. Also in 2004, on June 30, Cassini became the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, a breathtaking example of technology in action. On January 13, 2005, the unthinkable happened. The Cassini launched a probe, the Huygens probe, which actually landed on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, for seventy-two minutes, which represented the first time, and only time so far, that anything landed on any outer solar system world. Scientists realized that Titan contains large clouds of water vapor above it. Scientists also discovered that there are geysers of liquid water and organic material that burst from another moon, Enceladus, and decided that they are from pockets of water near the surface of that moon. Fascinating discovery. Scientist also discovered (in 2013) that it rains DIAMONDS on Saturn (and Jupiter, too), as the element carbon is present. Evidently when there are lightening storms there, methane is turned into soot which hardens into graphite and finally into diamonds as they fall to the planet. According to the BBC, there are theorized to be about 1000 tons of diamonds created per year on Saturn. Some sources (Nova series, “The Planets: Saturn”, season 46, episode 15) say the size of the diamonds can range from a small speck of dust to the size of a small apartment! This is absolutely amazing to me. On Earth, diamonds form naturally when carbon is buried about one hundred miles below the surface. After being heated to approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and being compacted under pressure of around 725,000 pounds per square inch, it needs to quickly move to the Earth’s surface with magma in order to cool down. What is rare here on Earth is ubiquitous on Saturn.

If you are interested, Saturn is visible in the early morning sky in April, along with Jupiter and Mars, approximately one hour prior to sunrise or just before dawn in the Eastern Sky. You will be able to see Saturn with the naked eye but will need a high powered telescope to see its rings. Today, on April 15, Saturn and our moon will appear close together in the sky from Earth. Normally, Saturn is visible in the evening sky from July to December, which is something to look forward to after our stay at home orders likely will be lifted.

April 15 Saturn and Moon picture courtesy of Space.com (Via Starry Night software)

“Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond

Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I, we’re like diamonds in the sky..
.”

-“Diamonds” by Rhianna

Try something different. Why not get up early tomorrow to see this wonderful sight in the morning. Find “light in the beautiful sea” and “choose to be happy” during this uncertain pandemic. “Shine bright like a diamond” by helping others, checking in on family and friends, and staying positive during this tough time. Attitude is everything, they say.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends…….

COPING WITH CORONA….SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO/A LITTLE MAGIC IN THE SKY

photo courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Ancient Greeks and Romans believed that the appearance of meteors in the sky meant something, either good OR bad, was about to happen. On April 16-25, if you look up into the dark night sky you will likely see some “shooting stars” bringing a little bit of magic to the spring sky. Although at it’s peak on or around April 21, you might be lucky enough to witness ten to fifteen meteors per hour Often these Lyrid Meteor showers can sometimes show one hundred “shooting stars” per hour!

I can still remember looking up into the night sky on a kayak late at night here in Florida in Mosquito Lagoon over the last years with my head tilted toward the heavens in pitch darkness to witness the bioluminescence of the dinoflagellates (plankton) in the water. I heard a splash in the water, wondering if it was an alligator or merely a fish jumping out of the water. One time, a fish jumped from one side of the kayak to the other, right across my lap. While my head was tilted toward the heavens, I stopped paddling the kayak for about ten minutes, during which time I witnessed a breathtaking display of meteor showers. It was so exciting to look around in anticipation as to where I would see the next shooting star. I used to be mesmerized by meteor showers when I was a summer camp counselor at W. Alton Jones Campus in Rhode Island in my early adult years. On our nights off, the other counselors and I would lay supine upon a narrow causeway between two ponds, listening to the sounds of the summer, such as the crickets and bullfrogs making chirping, rasping, and grinding noises that would take my breath away. The stillness of the black night along with those sounds were almost magical. The Perseid Meteor Showers sparkled above our heads as we heard those enchanting sounds, and being in the moment was almost perfect. The timelessness that we felt was extraordinary. Seeing the same spectacular events in the heavens that those that went before us somehow linked us to our past in some profound way.

Although it is not yet summer and not quite time for those same Perseid Meteor Showers in August, the Lyrid Meteor Showers in mid to late April is still something to look forward to. Even though most of the country is in a stay at home or shelter in place status, why not go into your backyard and lay upon the grass with your heads up toward the heavens……listening, watching, waiting for some magic to appear to take your breath away. We all need something GOOD to look forward to.

The Ancient Greeks may have believed that the appearance of meteors in the night sky meant something bad OR good was about to happen. I, however, think that something GOOD will happen if you gaze upwards and take a moment to yourself to watch the sky.

“…Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day

For when your troubles start multiplyin’
They just might
It’s easy to forget them without tryin’
With just a pocket full of starlight….”

“Catch a Falling Star” written by  Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and sung by Perry Como

Go out and look up into the night sky with watchful waiting for something GOOD to happen at a moment’s notice to take your mind off the Corona situation. I’ll bet you’ll be glad you did.

Life IS good; carpe diem, friends………..