On Monday night — well, the wee hours of Tuesday morning, actually — I’ll be in the middle of a field and looking for falling stars.
I shouldn’t have to look too hard because, as coincidence would have it, there’s gonna be a meteor shower that night. It’s the Leonids, and the forecast for the Southeast calls for upwards of 100 meteors per hour — up to 500 in parts of Asia, particularly remote parts where the natives think “metor” means you’re upgrading your camel steak from a 12-ounce to a 16-ounce. Of course, the scientists there know better and try to explain to the uneducated that a meteor shower is merely how you get a meteor clean.
I’m hoping all 100 don’t come at once every hour because with my luck that would be when I blink, and I’d miss out on 100 wishes.
The reason it’s supposed to be so spectacular is that there’s a new moon, or at least only a slightly used moon.
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Of course, in the big city of Columbus, with all the light pollution, your only chance to see stars is to dress as Osama bin Laden and step into a bar full of soldiers downtown. But, out in the sticks where I live, there are literally LOTS of stars in the sky.
Now, don’t worry. The stars don’t really fall. As most people who couldn’t sleep in their freshman science class because that senior offensive lineman taking the class for the fourth time kept thumping you in the ear can tell you: These meteors are actually just fairly small particles from comet trails such as ice and comet poop that burn up when they hit Earth’s atmosphere.
The particular trail we’re hitting early Tuesday morning comes from everyone’s second-favorite comet, 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. According to scientists — who have been known to come up with all sorts of wacky ideas like the exact distance of the sun from Earth, gravity and the theory of evolution — this trail was left behind from the comet’s rendezvous with Earth in 1466. One of the “falling stars” in that debris will be the room key to the cheap hotel involved in that rendezvous.
I’ll just go with whatever the scientists say. I don’t want to understand meteor showers and falling stars. I just want to enjoy them and stay blissfully ignorant. I’ll keep them in the category of things I don’t understand, such as:
Taylor Swift, entertainer of the year. Why anybody thinks Atlanta needs to GROW. How nobody sees that diseases won’t be cured as long as the money is in treating instead of curing them. Microwaves. How a bank charging a $32 fee on a $10 overdraft is considered a “service” and not loan-sharking. Bridezillas. Why PGA golfers cant play in shorts. And 3,643 other things.
There’s so much incomprehensible stuff in the universe that sometimes it’s better to just lie in a field somewhere and watch it all unfold as it will.
Chris Johnson, whose column runs on Sundays, can be reached at 706-320-4403.