Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Perseid Meteor Shower

The annual astronomical event of the Perseid meteor shower took place last week. I had thought that having the brilliant summer we were having - clear skies and warmth - we were bound to have a good night sky so that my eleven year old daughter could finally see her first shooting star! Since I have been in Bray (I moved back here in 1996) I have not had a chance to see the Perseids as the sky always clouds over! I described to my daughter how I could see a pure starry sky when I lived in Kerry. The painting below, Knockeen Gate, is based on the view from the front of the house where I lived outside Portmagee. 
I had promised to wake my daughter if the sky cleared, and as it didn't on the Monday night she had a peaceful night sleep. When she went to bed on the Tuesday the same promise was made; amazingly there was about an hour window of opportunity between 11 and 12 pm. Though it was a struggle, I did manage to wake her. We had a little party outside, snuggling on loungers, eating crisps and looking at the stars. Though the stars are not visibly as plentiful this close to Dublin as they are in the country, there are still more stars to be seen than in Toronto. And yes, before the clouds rolled in we did see some shooting stars. Hurray, mission accomplished!
The next day, when asked about the difference between a comet and a shooting star, I was reminded that in fact I have seen two comets since coming to Ireland. The painting above, Knockeen Comet, is based on the actual view of comet Hale-Bopp that I saw from the back of my house (with an outbuilding ruin, Portmagee Channel and Valentia Island as a base for the night sky) when I lived in Kerry.