Saturday, June 15, 2013

Starlight and more...

Late last night, closer to dawn than Midnight, I awoke and, feeling restless, stepped outside for some air and to let the dog do his business. The sky was star-filled and very peaceful. As I scanned the skies, to the northeast I saw a strobing flash I assumed to be a jetliner's running lights. When I see a red-eye flight tracing its way across the sky, I tend to look and ruminate on all the souls winging their way to their destinations way up there in the firmament.

But there was no further flashing. I stood for a moment, puzzled. There was no plane up there, just the stars. I don't know if I saw one of them pulse, or if it was a shooting star. I've seen plenty of shooting stars in my life, and this didn't look like any of those. A star that pulsed like that - far brighter than the twinkling you see when the atmosphere bends the light about - would be an astronomical event that would, at the very least, show up on space-related websites and blogs. I don't know a lot about astronomy, despite a lifelong love of it, but I do know enough to understand that such a pulse is a big deal in the astronomical world. So far, I haven't seen any mention of a star flashing last night.

So, the only conclusion I can come to is that it was either a very, very ephemeral shooting star, or a plane that had its lights out and suddenly flashed one of them once. The latter seems unlikely, so I'm left with the former. It would have been cool to witness a major event in the stargazing world, but hey, a shooting star is always a treat.

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