Friday, August 12, 2016

Starry, Starry Irish Night

I stand outside. On a wooden deck. Beneath a night sky. Beyond is Coulagh Bay. Beyond that is the Atlantic. It is 1 AM. The only light on the horizon: the floating fireflies along the Kerry Peninsula coastline.

Here, where I'm standing, there is no other light. Southwest Ireland is almost free from light pollution giving an unfettered view of the pending spectacle above me.

In fact only 2 hours from where I stand Ireland is blessed with an International Dark-Sky Reserve, one of only three Gold Tier Reserves on the planet and the only Gold Tier Dark-Sky Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is so very dark where I stand.

Tonight the globe that is our Earth will plunge through the remnants of an asteroid. Fireflies of light will flicker and die as molecules which have sailed untouched for millions if not billions of years find a new home.

I wait. I look up. Without light intrusion it seems I could fall into the sky. The Milky Way is a rich band above me. I could reach out to touch the constellation Cassiopeia and its great W. Higher, I see the dim flicker of M13, its Great Globular Cluster playing with Hercules. Near, the delicate strand of the Corona Borealis. West is Altair, a member of the Aquila Family and 11 times brighter than our sun.

It is so dark I can see it all.

I wait more. No snowfall. No flickering. Only silence. A gull cries distantly and then I see...

Star fall

Streaks of fine light, smoking bright, falling to the west. Into the sea, perhaps. Or toward my distant friends standing on another continent looking up at the same fireflies that cross the same sky, connected to them by the same view despite the many miles. I wonder if it is as dark where they stand, too?

A dark night in southwest Ireland. But such a starry, starry night.

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