Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Falling Star

Last night I stepped out onto our back deck for a brief look at the night sky. A gibbous moon hung bright and high in the Southeast, and a thick sprinkling of stars were visible, even in the moonlight.

Suddenly, a brilliant silvery light arced across the sky below the moon, trailing a long shimmering tail like a comet. The sight was literally breathtaking. The largest and brightest falling star I’ve ever seen, by far, it came from the east and carved a graceful arc across the sky toward the west, and was gone as suddenly as it had appeared. From what I was able to learn later, it may have been part of the Orionid meteor shower, an annual event made up of a stream of dust from Halley’s Comet. This meteor shower was supposed to be at its peak early this morning, after the moon set, around 2:00 am. The reports I read predicted that most of the meteors would be relatively small and faint.

I didn’t even think to make a wish, but there are few things I could wish for that would be as rare and memorable as this spectacular sight.

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