Meteor Shower Part IV11 Aug 2014
This year, for the third (youngest son) and fourth time (oldest son), I took my kids to Aldergrove Regional Park for the RASC-organized Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party Extravaganzaria. We went last year, though I neglected to blog about it; we went two years ago, and there were cute pictures.
Last year clouds showed up about eight minutes after sunset (really), but this year it was clear as a bell. There was also a full moon; for meteor-watching it was sub-optimal (as was the weekend falling three days or so before max), but the kids were even more excited. "There's gonna be a FULL MOON!" they kept saying. How can you argue with that? You can't.
We showed up about 6.30, only slightly delayed by missing the Tim Horton's ("Dad, you forgot the HOT CHOCOLATE!") and got set up: tent, sleeping bags, lounge chairs and all. After that, the kids ran up the big hill, then down, then back up again. "I was a little tired the second time," said Arlo, "but then I found a trick: just fun faster!" His athleticism continues to amaze and impress me.
After that it was time for the activities. Eli decided he didn't want his face painted this year; we looked at the telescopes a bit but skipped the presentations; but the Lantern Walk was a huge hit. It's this path that loops through the park, maybe a kilometer in length, with little coloured lanterns outlining the path. There was story-telling, which they both liked, and quotes on signs along the way, which Arlo kept reading. I got him to read this one from Carl Sagan aloud:
All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.
Perhaps misquoted -- I don't think the sign said exactly that, and I'm too lazy to go look up a reliable citation -- but I dearly love the idea behind it. Eli looked up at me and said, "I didn't know that!" He was quite taken with it.
It's neat to see how much they've changed over the last couple of years. Before it was face painting, hot chocolate and staying up late. Now, it's the story-telling, hot chocolate and staying up late. :-) Treats are treats, no matter what; but their understanding is broadening and their tastes are changing.
We set up the little Galileoscope to see the full moon, and showed a couple other people too. And then...sleep. They were bagged. They stayed on the lounge chairs for a while, then went inside the tent. Eli was keeping Arlo awake, so I brought him out to sit beside me; then back inside the tent once Arlo was asleep, with a story to get Eli to sleep as well.
I stayed out on the lounge chair 'til 12.30 or so. I saw exactly one Perseid -- it's amazing how bright the full moon really is! I would have stayed out longer, but I was getting very, very cold even in the sleeping bag and under a big wool blanket. FIXME: Next year bring more blankets.
Next morning we packed up and went to Cora's in Langley for breakfast, then home again to unpack, dry out, shower and get ready for a Vancouver Canadians baseball game. Because why do one thing in a weekend when you can do two? (This is living large where I come from.) Our seats were right in the solar furnace, so we skipped out after the fourth inning. Next time, though, we'll get better seats that have actual shade. FIXME: Avoid section 7; go for section four, row 20 or higher.