The sky’s full of falling stars…

1-Mike Staton
Mike Staton wrote this post.

The television show faded away, replaced by a commercial. In it, a father and a boy gazed at the night sky as they stood beside a telescope. Two shooting stars streaked across the sky. Below them, a Mercedes-Benz steaked along a curvy road, just like those shooting stars.


While I’ll never be able to afford a Mercedes-Benz, I can afford to bring out a sleeping bag and watch a meteor show from atop it. One’s coming up on August 11/12. After midnight, people should be able to see 150 to 200 shooting star an hour, according to knowledgeable sky watchers. That’s double the number of shooting stars seen during most Perseid meteor showers.

A couple of Perseid shooting stars streak across the sky. Around August 11/12 sky-watchers could see 150 to 200 shooting stars an hour. They’re caused by tiny bits of rock and dust that falls into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the debris of a comet as it orbits the sun.

Through the decades I’ve had some memorable Perseids as well as November’s Leonids. My best was maybe ten years ago. On a Perseid night, friends Jayne and Nancy and I drove out to a field a few miles from our neighborhood and gazed skyward. Experts predicted a bountiful Perseids, maybe hundreds per hour. I half-expected to see my hopes fizzle, but for once the experts were proved somewhat right. We saw three to four and sometimes five a minute, and most were quite brilliant.


Leonids in 1833
An 19th century artist captures the spender of the Leonids Meteor Storm of 1833.

I saw my first Perseids on August 12, 1966 as a 14 year old visiting my cousins, Ron and John and their mother and father, Juanita and Harold Snyder. John, a couple of years older than me, led me out to a cornfield behind the house and we watched the shooting stars – twenty-six over an hour. That’s one of my fondest memories from childhood… spending a night stargazing with a beloved cousin.


Three months later in 1966 – in November – I eagerly awaited the Leonids. A story in Time Magazine said the sky could fill with thousands, like skyrockets on the Fourth of July. This display would not be a meteor shower. Folks referred to as a meteor storm.

Leonid 1833-church
Another artist’s interpretation of the Great Meteor Shower of 1833.

When a boy, Abraham Lincoln witnessed a Leonids meteor storm in 1833. A Presbyterian deacon “who saw what appeared to be a falling sky” awoke Lincoln, according to one historical account.

The deacon’s quoted as saying, “Arise, Abraham, the Day of Judgment has come.”

The account continues, “Lincoln sprang from his bed in the Illinois home where he was a boarder and rushed to his window to find ‘stars falling in great showers.’ His fears dissipated when he saw the constellations in their usual places.”

It rained that December night in 1966. One of the great regrets of my life. For those who had clear skies, it was a meteor storm. For me, all I could do was crouch before my upstairs bedroom window at the top of the stairs and listen to the rain fall. Remember the hit tune from the Cascades, Rhythm Of The Rain?

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain Telling me just what a fool I’ve been I wish that it would go away and let me cry in vain And let me be along again.

In August 1980, it was a clear August night in Yellowstone National Park. Friends Mike and Judy were on their sleeping bags near me watching shooting stars ink the night sky. No city lights for miles and miles. Instead, a sky we seldom see nowadays. So clear the splash of stars that make up Milky Way blazed across the heavens. If you’re lucky to be in such a place later this month, be sure to haul your sleeping bags out to a meadow and enjoy the celestial sparklers. It’s the greatest show on Earth.


Mike has published a fantasy trilogy, Larenia’s Shadow. The three novels are available on the websites of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Want to learn more? The three books are titled The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. Let them be part of your summer reading list.


31 thoughts on “The sky’s full of falling stars…

  1. Yes, Yes and Yes! I still remember the Milky Way and shooting starts from my childhood in the mid-west. I used to stand outside and just stare up at the stars. Oh the memories. Thank Mike. Doris


    1. Nothing like looking at the sky from a mountaintop, miles from city lights. Your comment reminds me of a scene from the SF movie ‘Contact’… Jodie Foster’s character as a child looking at the sky with her father.


  2. How wonderful I imagine that Yellowstone night must have been! I vividly recall a full harvest moon rising with geysers in the background, 1995 — I’ve never forgotten. I hope to be at my mountain cabin when the shooting star show arrives next week; I’m not much of a late night person, but I do hope to catch the display since I’ll be in a prime location — in the woods! 🙂 Thanks for this wonderful post, Mike!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great information! Thanks Mike. I might have not known the date. Will have to see if I can find a friend to get out of town with, my husband does not stay up that late. My daughter worked at a dude ranch in the Tetons and visitors from big cities thought we only had that many stars in Wyoming and they didn’t have them in New York!


  4. Your wonderful descriptions made it feel as though I was there, Mike. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful meteor showers you describe, but I think I’ll definitely put it on my bucket list and find a meadow nearby to see one. Shouldn’t be hard in farming country!


    1. I’m surprised you haven’t taken advantage of your dark skies, Linda. They’ve been some fairly good showers over the last 15 years or so, not to mention the Hale-Bop comet back about two decades.


  5. I can’t imagine how fabulous that must have been like, Mike, to see a cascade like fireworks. We only tend to have the occasional single shooting star- but that’s because I live too near a city with far too many lights. Mostly when meteor shows are expected they are enshrouded in cloud and we see nothing. Yeas ago my husband, who studied astronomy as one of his sciences for his Master’s Degree, bought a fancy telescope. He set it up with great hopes but it rained. I’ve not personally stayed up again- Philistine that I am!


  6. I remember in college right before classes started, fellow resident advisors would go out to Lake Thunderbird in Norman, OK (aka Lake Dirtybird because of red clay in water) and watch the Perseids. I tried it in LA a few times and only managed to see a couple. Too much light pollution out here.


      1. A few years back I went north of LA looking for a dark place. It was south of Angeles Mountains, but I think past Valencia. I could see more stars than in LA proper, but still barely caught a shooting star. (I also tried it from Mulholand Drive years earlier with limited success too.) Maybe if I went to the Central Valley or something. When my daughter is over I want her to see it.


      1. But do uncrate that telescope. Take a look at the craters and highlands of the moon. Remember that men once walked on that world. Then find Saturn and take a gander at those beautiful rings.


  7. Thanks for the reminder Mike. I hope we can get a glimpse of it this week. Unfortunately, we live near the bay which often has fog/low clouds at night and we have serious city glow. Have to see what happens.
    Do love the night skies when we go camping!


  8. For several years when I was younger, I participated in a youth church camp that always fell on the same week as the Perseid showers. We would let the kids stay up one night when it was going to be clear so they could see them. We made sure to turn off all the outdoor lights and we were far from civilization, so it was quite a spectacular show. I haven’t seen them since that camp. I really miss it.


  9. Thanks for this, Mike. I grew up in a little town with no street lights. It was rare to see even a porch light after dark. Before air conditioning, we sat outside summer nights, and the stars were so bright and beautiful. That’s one of my happiest memories of childhood. Then individuals started putting up vapor lights, which seemed a very modern thing to do in the late ’60s, and the stars began to fade. I miss them.


    1. And we don’t seem to feel any safer for all those lights, do we? I miss those days when the stars shined brilliantly in the sky. It’s hard to empathize with the idea of space exploration when you can’t even see the destinations.


      1. Actually in summer it gets pretty hot and sunny. It’s been in the 80s here. We drove to Rattlesnake Lake where my friend knew some people had seen the meteors but by the time the concert got out and we arrived, it was over. It was around 1am and I saw stars which was nice but no meteor shower. Oh well!


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