This morning I crept outside at 5:30 a.m. and sat on the front porch steps, my gaze resting near the top of the pines between the constellation of Orion to my left and the Pleides to my right. I was rewarded quickly. Light burst from the heavens - intertwining zigzags of light as not one, but two shooting stars bust into brightness just below Sirius, the dog star.
I was up to catch the Orionid Meteor Shower. I've seen a shooting star or two but never like this. The sky was crystal clear with no moon. The stars and constellations were bright and crystalline. Within an hour, I saw seven meteors total - two so bright they lit the sky like fireworks, arcing down to the ground. The first one that zigzagged was the oddest one. The other four were tiny streaks and blurs of brightness. One actually shot upwards. I know that I was just seeing a streak of light as the Earth passed through the comet's debris trail, and it just happened to be the angle of viewing, but it was amazing just the same.
According to NASA's website, the Orionids come every October. They're the debris from Halley's comet that passed our way in 1986.
Sitting with my eyes raised to heaven in the predawn cold, with Shadow's warm furry body pressed to my side and a cup of steaming coffee in my hands, I felt what only could be described as tremendous awe...awe looking up into the pre dawn sky, as meteors streaked through the atmosphere at 90,000 miles an hour.
Where had they been? Where have they come from? How old were they? If they could see, what had they seen, and what stories could they tell?
I know the meaning of the word "awe" now.