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Viewpoint: Meteor shower offers chance for lasting memories

With all the media coverage of the 40th anniversary of NASA landing on the moon last month, we may find that we have a heightened interest in space. That curiosity serves us well this week, as we have the opportunity to view the annual Perseid meteor shower.

Meteors, or shooting stars, are so special and unexpected and they add a memorable moment to any evening we are lucky enough to glimpse one. I remember a shooting star I observed about five years ago.

My daughter and I were in the backyard, just sitting and talking. I happened to look up at precisely the right moment to catch the full blaze of a shooting star as it streaked across the night sky. The beauty and surprise took my breath away and I have cherished the memory ever since.

The fact that we have the chance to experience as many as 100 shooting stars each hour over the last few days should be enough to enchant, captivate, and motivate us. It should compel us to make a date with someone special, take a blanket, and go to the darkest outdoor place we can find. Astronomers are predicting that the star show will amaze and delight us most Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 11 p.m.

Like many things in life, shooting stars on a dark evening in mid-August are available to us, if we will seize the opportunity to enjoy them. They are free of charge, open to anyone who can see into a dark, night sky, and are sure to provide many ooh's and aah's for its viewers.

From the beginning of time people have had the opportunity to view the Perseid meteor shower at exactly this same time each year. We are no different in this way than all the people who have come before us to this earth. One way we may be very different, however, is that we are so breathtakingly busy. The simple thought of waking our children at night and taking them outside to view a magnificent star show may be more than we could ever imagine.

We may explain that we will be tired the next day. Or that the kids will be crabby. What we may not think of is that the memory-making we would create would likely override any lack of sleep we will experience. The recollection of mom and dad quietly waking them just after midnight to go out and lay down to watch the show will be with our children forever.

In order to enjoy the experience as much as possible, start by getting a lawn chair that is easy to carry and will hold at least two of you. Next, put a blanket in the dryer for about ten minutes, in order to warm it up a bit. Then, with your children, your chair and the warmed blanket, head outside and face the northeast part of the sky. Snuggle your children in the warmed blanket, as you both watch for the next brilliant surprise.

There is no video game that could ever fully rival such an event as a family, huddled together, gazing in wonder at a dark, mysterious, and captivating summer sky. The memory of this will be with us, and our children, forever. We can also be fairly certain that our children will pass on this tradition to their own future families, as well. It may become an annual event, anticipated with expectation and enchantment by all.

How is it that, with all of our technology and advancements, we disregard an encounter with a celestial event such as this as bothersome? We would rather rent a movie or download a file that explains the phenomenon of this amazing, once-a-year event from an appropriate perspective, rather than to be inconvenienced by a midnight encounter with the marvelous.

If you do decide to lose a little sleep tonight and set your alarm for the wee hours of the morning, the reports are that we will not be disappointed. When you rest out on your blanket, enjoying the Perseid meteor shower, participate in the joy of each shooting star, as it leaves its brilliant mark across the sky and a mark on your memory.

Soucheray is a Woodbury resident