Contact   Store   Donate      Sign Up

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter.”
    --John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”  (1820)

Once again, tonight, Earth is passing through the debris trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle.  This year, though, I don’t expect to see any Perseid meteors, for three reasons: (1) the sky, where I live on the Southern California coast, is currently clouding up every night with low stratus moving in from the cold Pacific Ocean; (2) from my home, just two miles from L.A. International Airport, light pollution keeps me from seeing anything dimmer than first magnitude stars and planets; and (3) even if I traveled 100 or so miles to get to a dark sky, tonight’s full moon would prevent seeing any but the brightest meteors.

So, for 2011, I will content myself with sweet memories of meteors past.  As a child, I was very fortunate to live with a grandfather who gave public talks for a major observatory (Yerkes, in Wisconsin) and a mother who loved astronomy.  On Perseid nights, Mom would wake me after midnight and take me, a sleepy-eyed 6-year-old, out to the field behind the house, where I would try to stay awake lying on my back watching meteors stream by overhead.

Do you remember the John Denver song, “Rocky Mountain High”?  In his book Take Me Home: An Autobiography (Harmony Books, 1994), Denver tells how the song originated on a midsummer camping trip: “The air was kind of hazy when we started out, but by ten p.m. it had grown clear…I went back and lay down…when swoosh, a meteor went smoking by.  And from all over the campground came the awed responses: ‘Do you see that?’  It got bigger and bigger until the tail stretched out all the way across the sky and burned itself out.  Everybody was awake, and it was raining fire in the sky.”

Here’s the chorus of John Denver’s song:

It’s a Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
Friends around the campfire and everybody’s high
Rocky Mountain High…

So wherever you may be, and whether this night brings you meteors or memories, spin your thoughts into poems (as, in the old fairy tale, the elf Rumplestiltzkin spun straw into gold), and send your nuggets to the Astropoetry Blog!

--Bob Eklund, Astropoetry Blog Editor


    You need to be logged in to leave a comment

    About AWB

    Astronomers Without Borders is a global astronomy community. Astronomy enthusiasts, educators, and others worldwide come together in programs based on our common interest in astronomy.

    Read More

    Get Involved

    Join Astronomers Without Borders worldwide astronomy community. Get the latest news and program updates, and take part. Join as an individual or affiliate group, or donate to become a sponsor or supporter.

    Read More

    Latest News

    Sep 30

    Telescopes to Tanzania Update - Sept. 2015

    When the burden is heavy and the skies are cloudy the work we have chosen can seem impossible until friends, partners and generous donors put their shoulders to the plow and their hearts on the line. Thank you for your... Read More...

    Sep 15

    Heavenly Ali - Dark Skies in China

    Dark Skies preserves are starting to pop up in China now and more is wanted. This video features a great example, "Heavenly Ali, Best Sky". Produced by Starry Sky Project of China, that is part of IDA, shows a beautiful... Read More...

    Sep 08

    Young Astronomy Enthusiasts from Ilboru - Telescopes to Tanzania Update

    Submitted by Eliatosha Maleko At Ilboru primary school with the total of 1250 students there are different subject clubs but Geography and Science clubs are the ones with huge number of students. This is due curious nature of the students... Read More...

    Current Projects & Events

    Global Astronomy Month 2015

    Global Astronomy Month (GAM), organized each April by Astronomers Without Borders, is the world's largest global celebration of astronomy. GAM 2015 will bring new ideas and new opportunities, again bringing enthusiasts together worldwide to celebrate Astronomers Without Borders' motto One People, One Sky . See below for GAM programs and GAM-related news (coming soon). Some important dates are on the Program Schedule now, with n ew programs being added all the time.
    Learn More

    Geminis 2010

    Poster credit: Azhy Hasan ( Download print version ) Earth encounters the Geminid Meteor Shower each December. For 2010, this shower will begin December 7th and end around December 17th. To celebrate this event, AWB is spearheading a new project called Meteors Without Borders (MwB), scheduled for the peak of the shower on December 13th and 14th. Most meteor showers originate from the dust left behind by a comet. However, this one is birthed from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon—a near-Earth (or Earth-crossing) asteroid that lives in the intermediate main belt. 3200 Phaethon is also called an Apollo asteroid (Palladian...
    Learn More

    Name Your Crater on Mars In "Astronomers Without Borders"

    Now you can not only name a crater on Mars on Uwingu's new map but you can have "Astronomers Without Borders" as part of its Martian address! The first Province to be given a name on this new map of Mars has been named in honor of Astronomers Without Borders, and when you name a crater there you not only support the Uwingu Fund for astronomy research, education, and public outreach, but 10% goes directly to AWB's global programs. If you haven't named a Mars crater yet then this is the time - and the place - to do it....
    Learn More

    Social Media Updates