“A pessimist sees only the dark sides of clouds and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn’t see the clouds at all – he’s walking on them.”
~ Leonard Louis Levinson, Author
Saturday night’s sky was full of speculation. The usual stars were visible against a dark and clear November backdrop. Those who happened outdoors at just the right moment were privy to a mysterious sighting. My first thought was, “It’s a fireball (meteor).” Some believed it to be a UFO sighting. Both of these conclusions are plausible (maybe), but nevertheless were soon proven wrong.
Not as exciting as the original possibilities, this national news-making event was an unarmed missile fired by the U.S. Navy from a submarine off our coast. It is not uncommon for Vandenberg AFB to launch polar orbits and missile tests that leave behind colorful displays in the evening sky. But this recent sighting was a horse of a different color. A scheduled Naval missile, the Trident II (D5), was launched from the waters of the Pacific Test Range. Its bright red trail streaked across evening sky then slowly faded and turned blue or white. South to Mexico and west to Nevada and Arizona its appearance was reported. Law agencies and news media in San Diego even received phone calls reporting – God forbid – a nuclear bomb.
Under a cloud-free clear sky tonight, Thursday, a dazzling show will light the night. Annually, November’s celestial calendar is marked with the Taurid meteor shower. Peak viewing time is Nov. 12 and on a lesser scale for the remainder of the month. Unlike the aforementioned man-made sightings, this one is truly heaven sent.
Falling within the same time frame, my mistaking last week’s missile trail for a fireball is understandable. That was then, and now is now. Step outdoors – don’t even glance at your thermometer or you may go back inside as temperatures dropping to 40 degrees are expected. Look up – Taurid’s meteor shower is famous for its brilliant fireballs. A single one can briefly light up the sky.
Threatening rain-teasing clouds began this week. As with the so-called UFO sightings, they failed to deliver. Neither rain nor alien made landfall … for now. Cool fall temperatures have settled in with daytime highs not exceeding 70 degrees and nights dipping to the low 40s. Sunday brings our next possibility for rain. The storm’s track is well to the north, so presently a 20% chance of rain is forecast. Weather can change quickly, so I remain an optimist … and umbrella-ready.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at email@example.com.