Unrelated, off-planet, curiosity

I was wondering if anyone was observing the Perseid and Aquarid meteor showers?

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One of the things I miss most about being out away from population centers. Not just meteor showers, but all of it. When I get back to my place in the Dominican Republic, I intend to spend a lot more time looking at the Milky Way – which can’t really be seen at all in the Bay Area.

I was on a Passport in Time trip once, out in the Mendocino National Forest. Suddenly there was a bolide – and it lasted long enough for the people whose backs were turned to it to turn around and see it after the exclamation.

Tying this back to iNaturalist: since a lot of birds migrate at night, even if they are diurnal outside of migration time, I would think that light pollution would disorient them if there are cities along their route.

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San Francisco’s my favorite city, but … yeah, nature’s a myth there. And the Milky Way … the best sky I’ve had for that was over Ajo, AZ. Watched the Perseids there in 2019.

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You don’t have to go very far north to get away from it all.

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Unless you live in the far south.

Way back in 1981 I was backpacking with a group of about a dozen friends on a week-long trip in the side canyons of Grand Canyon park. (One of the trips of a lifetime for me!)

One night, we slept open (no tents) up on a plateau, staring straight up from our sleeping bags. All around us (and often over us) the rustling of desert mice but above us, the sky was brilliant and crystal clear. And fully glowing of course.

We did that game where you count out satellites and shooting stars that you easily spot under such conditions.

And just when we were all looking at the same patch, directly above us a huge fireball blazed across, breaking into glowing, trailing, multiple fragments and sparkles as it went.

What seemed like minutes, but was more likely 2 or 3 seconds, was met by total group silence. And then, a spontaneous cheer and applause as we realized that this was a once in a lifetime, shared moment.

I’ve been lucky to have seen a couple other bolides since, but never as spectacularly large and long, or under such ideal conditions.

I now live along the shore of Lake Ontario (26 years), and this time of year, if the evening weather is clear, I will take a blanket, a thermos, and my binoculars down to a lakeside park about 10 minutes walk away that is (thankfully) unlit and equipped with lake and sky viewing benches.

And mosquitoes.

But I always feel recharged after being humbled by celestial events. There’s something very reassuring (to me, at least) about the inconsequentiality of our tiny existence.

And the realization that no matter what, our existence is more than enough for any amount of mere (mere-side?) speculation.


To the south there are some really good nature places too, and you don’t have to cross a bridge to get to them.

You can also cross the bay and go out east past Oakland, but that takes a while.

If you’re actually in San Francisco north is generally the fastest route to a wide variety of good nature areas, even if you’re in the southern side of SF. It doesn’t take long to get throgh SF and to the Golden Gate Bridge if you know your way around the city.

Huh… my first reaction to this was… ‘oh, what an odd thing to say.’

San Francisco iNat observations

How about: it’s a myth there after many of the places I’ve been lucky enough to live, or work for a summer. I have done some nature photography in S.F. But I’m never there for the nature … I love that city. Oh, and my daughter’s there.

Yah, don’t agree. There’s nothing mythic about that link above, which shows over 6,000 species observed in San Francisco, a pretty small city area wise. I don’t live in the city any more, but people find lots of nature there.

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Nature is a myth most places after many of the places I’ve been lucky enough to work for a summer.

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