Area man discovers satellites, meteors, beer

I conduckted some astronomical observations last night eg sitting in my back yard with a dunkel weissbier (that is posh beer if you do not know) and looking at Perseus. I thought it might be quite a while before I saw any meteors as I was out on Saturday night looking and did not see anything, but then it was only for about ten minutes. However it was only a minute or two before a vivid, unmistakable streak flashed over my head and I went ‘Oooooh!’

Then there were streaks in all directions, one about every two or three minutes, of different lengths and speeds, most of them radiating from Perseus but one or two going almost backwards! One went quite slowly from south or north burning fiercely and then winked out somewhere near Polaris. Just when I’d start getting a crick in the neck and thinking it was time for me to go in, there would be a fierce streak like the trail of a firework rocket and I would be all ‘Aaaaah!’ again and stay a bit longer.

It is amazing to think that each of those flashes is a tiny grain of dust hitting the atmosphere and flashing into vapour about 50 miles up, roughly the orbit of the Space Shuttle. To be so bright from the ground they must be bright indeed from orbit. They may only be tiny left over bits of comet, but they are travelling at around 30 miles a second, or faster than a Vauxhall Vectra. To be more precise, the dust grains are virtually stationary; we are hitting them at 30 miles a second, which is a sobering thought. This is why you need beer.

I also saw a couple of satellites, one very bright and arcing lazily through Cassiopæia towards Pegasus. I thought it would be intresting to look it up on heavens-above.com which will identify or predict any satellite for you, even the secret ones. It turned out I saw Lacrosse 4, a US spy satellite! The American governmint probably has my DNA or something now. I am expecting a knock at the door any minute and Tommy Lee Jones will flash a special torch in my eyes and I will…

That’s funny. What was I saying?

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