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First Perseid sighting achieved perfection

Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight.

A flashing pinwheel of light streaked north in the heavens, arching in a smooth, semi-horizontal trajectory above my beloved Goose Tree late Thursday.

Of course I made a wish. Secret. Shh.

I will share that the sight of that single meteor — shooting across the midnight blue — created a wonderful feeling I'll not soon forget.

That I was even out there looking skyward was a mini-miracle. I generally pass on wholesome, life-expanding activities. Watching a meteor shower was never on my bucket list. I'm no astronomy buff. Haven't the foggiest notion where any of the major constellations are located. Couldn't even point out the Big Dipper, even though it's been pointed out to me on several occasions throughout my life.

But all this talk about the Perseid meteor shower had tweaked my curiosity. And nudged a memory.

About six years ago, I was gobsmacked by the beauty that swirls above while we sleep. It happened late one freezing November night in a hot tub in the wilds of Wimer. Holy Starshine! There was a whole lot of twinkling going on once this former city girl discovered the difference darkness makes in spying shooting stars, satellites and more. And that was just a typical starry-starry night.

Online meteor sites had promised Perseid watchers up to 50 to 80 meteors per hour should they engage in a little celestial studying in the wee hours. Wowser. A veritable hailstorm of meteors. Surely even my uneducated peepers couldn't miss spotting at least one of them. Just before heading to bed, I wandered outside to take a late-night gander.

But there's a reason celestial-lovers head for the hills — or the boonies — for their viewing pleasure. There are several more houses in my neck of the woods nowadays. And population brings light pollution. Although it was pushing midnight, interior lights were still on in several houses — including my own. Likewise for our outdoor porches and security light systems.

I couldn't do much about my neighbors' need for perpetual daylight. But it was simple enough to flip a few switches and let my property fade to black.

Aaah. That helped.

Standing in the center of the lawn, I tipped back my head, stared straight up — and almost fell backward on my fanny.

Huh? How does one get vertigo looking up? I know the Earth is spinning on its axis. But I swear I could see it happening — at warp speed, Captain. (No, I was not drinking. Or smoking. Or watching Star Trek.)

I lowered my gaze, rubbed my eyes, took a wider stance and tried again. Layers of stars came into focus. Big ones in front, smaller ones in back, and a milky haze drifting behind it all.

The more I looked, the more I saw. And heard — crickets jingling like Christmas bells, frogs croaking, birds calling, geese honking. It seemed everyone was up for Perseid's party.

But my neck was getting a crick. And other than a few bats flitting about, there wasn't much action in the sky except for a tumbling satellite.

Oh well, the concert was fun. Even if the light show was disappointing.

Then a flashing point of light zipped a long trail across the northern sky. Wowser. That was way more impressive than your typical shooting star. Brighter, farther, faster. (The Perseids haul cosmic arse much faster than meteors in other showers, I later learned.)

The next night I stayed up late, shut down all the lights and sat out on the deck. My plan was to get comfy and really enjoy the show. Three more Perseids came into view within a 10-minute span. All in the same section of sky.

It was kinda fun. But ... meh. I called it a night.

Maybe it was the surprise of seeing Thursday's bright, bold meteor. Maybe it was the Universal thinking I was doing at the time. And after. Maybe it was my heartfelt wish for us all. Whatever it was, my first Perseid meteor was perfect. And why mess with perfection?

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.