After a summer full of utterly shitty weather we finally had a clear night. It was perfect timing. A bunch of my friends and I headed over to Ben's house and got ready to watch a cosmic marvel, the Perseids meteor shower. We headed outside at around 10:30PM and lay down on the trampoline. After covering ourselves with bug spray we looked up and saw some stunning shooting stars. Some of the most prominent ones occurred right as we got out there but they increased in frequency as the night progressed.
We sipped wine (and played finish the whiskey bottle) and stared at the stars jamming on the guitar for hours. I learned two things that night meteor showers are really cool, and the tune of "La Bamba" goes well with just about any lyrics you can throw out there.
Meteor showers happen when the Earth's orbit takes us through the debris left from a comet. In this case the comet was Swift-Tuttle. Comets are effectively dirty snowballs that orbit happily beyond the orbit of Neptune in either the Kuiper Belt or the Oort Cloud until some sort of gravitational disturbance knocks it towards the inner solar system. It will either orbit the Sun in a highly elliptical path or get tossed out of the solar system. The Sun heats up the object and the solar wind, the particles that get ejected from the sun, cause the distinctive tail to form. This tail spews out small particles which are left in the wake. When the particles enter the Earth's atmosphere friction causes them to burn up, producing shooting stars.
Thats all for today off to go camping for the weekend.