It was a pivotal moment for me. I experienced a moment where I felt like I had finally come full circle. Let me explain. When I was a teenager, I would sit on the hood of my car and look up. I would actually look up at the stars for hours on end… sometimes alone. I was an only child, anyway. And, sometimes, as a young teenager, friends would come by and together, we would just sit and look at the stars in the absolute freezing cold until one of my parents would tell me how ridiculous it was to be outside at 11pm just star gazing.
My parents didn’t really understand this weird kid that they raised. I had different interests than they did and I wasn’t really ‘cool’ in their eyes… but I still found a lot of joy doing these “odd” things. My mind would run wild; I would sit there just watching the night sky contemplating the life I was yet to understand. And, here I was staring at these little specks of light in the night sky not even realising that they were the swirling hot gases, stars and planets light-years away just dancing before me.
But, last night… oh man… Well, last night was a gift. This was not a planned event as I only heard about the stargazing extravaganza about two hours before our departure to Lough Hyne. But, when we arrived, about 20 participants from ISU’s Space Studies Program piled out of their rental cars to witness Perseid meteor shower.
Just a few kilometres from the quaint little town of Skibbereen, Lough Hyne was one of the best places for us to view the meteor shower. Being at the lough helps with visibility because it’s literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees.
We all looked to the sky, hunting for meteors with our eyes. Within minutes of arrival, the night sky became our own personal celestial light show that was, give or take, few billion years in the making.
Some people scanned the sky as they seemed warm and content under their doona’s. A few people shivered in the cold, determined to enjoy the show whilst a few huddled together for warmth. Streaking flashes of light left memorable trails that slowly faded and within seconds and each time this happened, there was a roar from the crowd!
Our evening light show was provided by meteor’s no bigger than a grain of sand. Seriously. And these little flecks of insignificance were hitting the Earth’s atmosphere at about 58k’s an hour… It goes to show you that some of the smallest things in life can also be the most impactful. There were also times when these little grains would hit the atmosphere straight on and produce a bright white flash for only a split second…
I can only imagine what the astronauts would be seeing from above. Imagine the light show they’d be experiencing. Wow.
The clouds rolled in and closed our show for the evening, so a few of us decided on a midnight hike to the top of the mountain. This is a common welcomed occurrence in my life as I once did a nighttime hike literally in the middle of nowhere lost somewhere in Switzerland. We poorly navigated a wet and muddy path as we followed the zig-zagged route up to the top of mountain. Eventually, with no help from our keen sense of direction, we reached the very top of the mountain. 360 degree views of dark beauty greeted us which was accompanied by a makeshift fire and a guitar sesh. Wow.
I realised at this very moment that I actually waited twenty years for this. This evening wasn’t even planned and here I was living out one of the greatest, most pivotal moments of my life… There were so many parts to tonight that made it a great life lesson for me and I’m delighted I was able to relive it so many years later. This is exactly what I needed. It took this awkward little kid to little kid to feel normal… so maybe, I guess the moral to the story is, you might not know when, where or even how… but one day, the story all comes together – full circle.
An Aussie girl gone walkabout in the great big world!