soon after i got to laurie's place we left, with me leading the way while jess and laurie followed in another car. when we got to the brackett elementary school park (N 42°24'47.7" W 71°10'28.9") in arlington close to 4am, there was a surprising amount of people already there, silhouettes in the dark, bits and pieces of conversations overheard but not really knowing where they're coming from. we found a place on the side of the hill, spread out a blanket, laid down, and prepared ourselves for the celestial show.
watching shooting stars in the dead of an autumn night in new england is something best left for the brave or the foolish. despite the fact that i had four layers on, after about an hour on the ground (it was 33 degrees fahrenheit not factoring in the wind chill) i was cold. my face felt numb and my feet, even though i had very thick socks on, felt frozen. laurie and jess were in the same boat, and they probably had it much worse because they weren't as layered as i was. even with the assistance of chemical heat packets, our feet still felt cold. both laurie and jess had cups of hot chocolate which we all shared, but that didn't help too much, and all it did was to scald our mouth if we drank it too fast. what lessons are to be learned from tonight? next time, wear another layer of sock, bring a warm comforter to hide underneath, and heat packets don't work so well.
so, what about the shooting stars? i definitely saw the most shooting stars i've ever seen in one night. in the beginning, probably one shooting star every minute, but the closer we got to 5am, the more they came, maybe one every few second or so. they weren't small faint ones either. a lot of them were big and bright, made the whole hillside audience "ohh" and "ahh" in the dark with each streak of light in the sky. i don't believe the idealized imagery of the entire sky raining with stars to be very accurate, or maybe they're just very rare events. when they say 70 shooting stars per minute, that might be true, but they're all over the sky, and the sky is a big place. we noticed a patch of space where there were a lot of shooting star action, but the "stars" would appear and disappear, they wouldn't streak. it was later i realized what we'd been looking at was actually the leo constellation, the radiant center of the leonid meteor shower, so those were all head-on meteor collisions.
we left shortly after 5am, during the peak hour. i quickly drove home and parked by the playground next to my house, where i got another 30 minutes of viewing before the sun started to rise and the sky was getting lighter. that's when i saw the most concentrated shooting star activity, one shooting star every second or less all over the sky. i laid down on a metal bleacher seat and enjoyed my second viewing.