Muffled incandescence


Twangling in the dark, the recliner and I arranged ourselves with feet pointed east, a posture dictated by Perseus and the fat descending Moon.  Conditions were not ideal, as, apart from the lunar lightspill, the thin patchy cloud must have been masking many of the fainter meteors.  But this is England; and if you can see any stars, however fuggy, out you go.

There was time to do a little binocular wandering, and to tuck the blanket in well about the edges.  The main event began with a show stopper:  a long meteor right through the middle of the summer triangle, burning white and fierce and leaving a long smoke trail behind it.  It always seems curious that these energetic phenomena should take place in total silence, but so it is.

When the Moon finally took itself off the sky darkened, a blurry Milky Way appeared and I began to see a few satellites bustling past.  There was a steady incidence of meteors, though not a rich fall, and nothing as spectacular as the harbinger.  I watched and dozed, dozed and watched, and finally came to with a dim awareness of half past three, the Pleiades and Aldebaran, and the fading of the short summer night.   As I bundled through the door, damp with lying under a drizzle of interplanetary dust, the second-brightest of the night flew emphatically south.

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