By Sue KILPATRICK
“It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lie on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or just happened.” –
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,”
Mark Twain, 1885
Summertime on the Mississippi River 150 years ago and yet here we are today – a different time and place, but still seeking answers.
Huckleberry Finn and Jim (a runaway slave) during a summer storm, which caused the river to flood, found a log raft, hopped on, floated downstream escaping their troubles as they became involved in a series of adventures. The quiet darkness of the river at night encouraged a discourse between the two about the origins of the universe.
It was not made clear in Mark Twain’s writings as to the exact summer month the story took place. I like to imagine it was in August, when the skies were lit by one of the annual meteor showers. Although probably not lying on a raft, we will still have a chance to view and ponder the same celestial event. Perhaps our weather was also similar, with daytime highs in the 90s and nights a cooler mid 60s.
One of the best shooting star events occurs in August – the Perseid meteor shower. This year there is a viewing problem. A bright full moon and the meteor shower both peak on Aug. 12. Shining this much light on the show drastically reduces the number of visible meteors. But no worries: “the show must go on!” In fact, according to astronomers, it will be better than ever, with an added attraction. The lesser-known Delta Aquarid’s meteor shower will be at its peak on Friday of this week as its companion the Perseid is just beginning. Together, with a new moon, the showers will produce from 15-30 visible shooting stars per hour in the dark summer skies.
Our local weather is also expected to cooperate with typical summerlike conditions. Lots of sunshine and warm temperatures remain in place, but are constantly influenced by two systems. As soon as low pressure moved in midweek and brought a little cooling, a high pressure from the east marched back in and pushed it out to sea. Once again, above normal temperatures, possibly reaching 100, are predicted at week’s end and the start the next. The National Weather Service is forecasting a monsoonal flow bringing showers and thunderstorms to the mountains and deserts for late Sunday.
Looking for inexpensive entertainment after a long, hot week? If you are a night owl you are in luck; if not you may want move out of your comfort zone. Grab something to drink, a snack and a blanket or lawn chair and head outside. As said by many, “It is always darkest before the dawn.” Well, I’m not sure what this saying really pertains to, but I would like to add, “…and the most favorable time to view a meteor shower.”
Relax and enjoy the show!
Sue Kilpatrick is a Crescenta
Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service. Reach her at