Watching meteors from the roof

Last night we set up sleeping bags on the roof of the quarterdeck to watch the Perseid meteor shower. I’ve been thinking about doing this all summer! Two sleeping bags, a lot of pillows, an extra blanket, extra fuzzy socks, and hats kept us warm.

First we took a look at Venus and the moon. The sun was setting behind a line of palm trees. A few stars came out. We yelled back and forth with our neighbor Roy, who had just gone out on his little motorboat. He made Moomin promise to yell out to him if he saw a meteor.

A little earlier it had looked like this:
Rather than stay up on the roof for hours, we came back down to bed. Moomin read from a web page about the Perseids. At the end he did a very funny announcer voice.

We read almost the LAST bit of Swiss Family Robinson, where Jenny Montrose joins the family. Moomin had a lot of sarcastic commentary about it was sexist for them to worry about her not being in a dress, and how Jack would not let her go alone in the kayak. “Oh, come on! What is she, a baby?! She just lived in a hut alone on an island for 3 years! She can kayak by herself!” We also made fun of the non-stop animal killing. In this chapter, they shot some wolves, jackals, a tiger, a whale, and a pair of lions. I thought Moomin was going to have a freakin’ stroke when they got to the wounded lioness. Then he asked me to just skip the part about the tiger. The night before, Oblomovka had been making up fake bits about how they meet a Tyrannosaurus Rex. “But dinosaurs are extinct!” “Well, they are now!” This makes complete sense and also explains why they live on an island with wolves, tigers, lions, bears, elephants, ostriches, penguins, walruses, and so on — perhaps all those animals used to exist in one place. Until they were all shot and stuffed!

After we all read in bed for a while it was dark enough to be worth really looking. The night was still clear. I think we went up on deck around 10 or 10:30.

The iPad star watching app was useful in red-filter mode to let us know what we were looking at. I spotted the Big Dipper, North Star, Cassiopeia, and Cygnus but the star gazing app was great for the names of stars. We tried to imagine the people who sat around night after night mapping and naming the stars visible with the naked eye.

I saw maybe 3 shooting stars, Oblomovka saw more, and Moomin saw one. What a relief! I was afraid he wouldn’t see any!

We were talking about memories of seeing meteor showers and fireworks and just being outside at night when we were kids. Often this meant endless driving, parking in giant fields full of people along with some creative car swearing, trudging around in crowds, lying on blankets on wet muddy grass… and then one star, or some super crappy fireworks. The thing is, I liked all of that and admired my parents’ organization. There we were in the middle of a strange situation in the night and they’d have my sister in a baby backframe pack, a cooler full of food that my mom would pack in – in the big red and yellow backpack cooler that must have been free swag from her dad’s job as a liquor distributor – The fireworks were almost always not very good – Then the surge of crowds on the way back would stress everyone. I liked the way crushed grass smelled in the night, in a crowd. It seemed like we always had everything we needed. I wonder if Moomin will remember being on the roof of the boat? Will he mind that he only saw one shooting star?

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