There has been another sighting. There is no need to panic. A woman in a grey bathrobe and fuzzy slippers was spotted in rural Huron County, gazing into the starlit sky just after dusk. If you encounter this woman, do not attempt to apprehend her yourself. We have received reports that the subject may be armed with binoculars.
Well, I have been known to race out of the house from time to time in the middle of the night. There is just so much to see in the night sky. Dec. 19 was especially exciting. I was watching the news and it was mentioned that the Space Station was going to be visible over northern Ohio at about 5:57 p.m. So I grabbed my binoculars and out I went. O.K. I was already in my bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. You got a problem with that?
Anyway, the report said the space station would travel from the southwest to the northeast about forty-five degrees above the horizon. I watched four or five high flying planes go over, but nothing out of the ordinary. Then something caught my eye directly overhead. It was one of the most unusual things I've ever seen. A brilliant silver ball was slowly tracking across the sky. No binoculars necessary. The sight was definitely bathrobe worthy.
I also enjoy the yearly Perseid meteor shower. It comes every August, but some years are better than others. Several years ago there was a spectacular display. The shower was going to peak at about 3 a.m., so I set up a lawn chair in the yard, set my alarm for 2:30 a.m. and got to bed by 9. The sky was clear and the stars were bright. As soon as I stepped out the door, I saw several shooting stars. I ran back into the house, woke up my husband and grabbed a hand counter. In two and a half hours, we counted more than 1,600 meteors. Now that's a shower! (A shower I took in my BATHROBE!) This year the Perseids will peak on Aug. 13. Make your plans early.
We spend many evenings with a fire on the patio, watching the stars. It doesn't take long to spot the tiny lights of satellites as they go over. Twice we have seen iridium satellite flares. Iridium satellites are communication satellites that have three highly reflective antennae panels. They are made out of aluminum that has been treated with silver-coated Teflon. When the sun catches one of these just right, they can produce a spectacular flare of blue-white light for up to 20 seconds. The ones I've seen have been breath taking. If you check online, there are schedules to help predict when an iridium flare might occur in your area.
Usually, Dick Goddard provides the "heads up," literally, on various interesting phenomena. He has been doing the weather in northern Ohio since 1966 and is chief meteorologist for Fox 8. In the late 1970's I spotted him at Cedar Point. Despite my then soon-to-be husbands' objections, I ran over and asked Dick for his autograph. Of course, I told him it was for my mother, but I still have the little slip of yellow paper in my photo album that says, "Sunny Skies, Dick Goddard." Because of his reports, I've even seen the Northern Lights on the rare occasions they have been visible this far south.
So there you have it. The reports are true. I'm turning myself in. My name is Claudia and I'm a shameless, bathrobe wearing sky watcher.