izhilzha (izhilzha) wrote,

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A night in the desert

I hadn't lain out at night to watch falling stars, not even the Perseid meteor shower, since I was in my teens. But mrizh loves the stars--he even has a decent small telescope--so this year, we went up into the high desert and camped for one night to watch the meteors.

It was incredibly fun, except for the heat. High desert in the summer doesn't cool down at night past about 80 degrees, at the lowest. The fire on the other side of the mountain, spewing smoke into our clear summer sky, didn't help, either.

The place we camped was gorgeous. I wish I'd gotten some pictures. It's all high eroded cliffs, like great hanging folds of cloth. One could imagine all sorts of spirits or creatures living in there...besides the actual bats and squirrels and so forth.

And there were Joshua trees, which I did not expect. The link doesn't have pictures that do them justice. They're great spiny plants, a type of yucca, and they have this aura of... I don't know, age and power, I guess. Makes me wonder if the local native tribes thought of them as gods or demi-gods. It's that sort of feeling, of being watching by an ancient mind. Like Ents, maybe; Ents of the desert.

For a while, we thought we might have the campground to ourselves. But as it grew late and dark, a carload of teenagers (with a couple of British-accented adult chaperones) rolled in and set up across the way from us. We ignored them as best we could, set up our telescope, and whiled away the early night hours looking at globular clusters and other stellar objects and lying on a nearby picnic table to watch the sky for meteors. There were quite a few, some of them bright, leaving long fiery streaks across the sky behind themselves.

Eventually, the smoke shrouded a lot of the sky, including the Milky Way, and mrizh and I crawled into the tent to try and sleep until an hour or so before dawn, when the meteors should be even thicker. I did sleep, although it was almost too hot to even be in the tent.

Around 3:30 a.m., we crawled out and began stargazing again. There weren't many more meteors than before, sadly, but the moon had risen, and Jupiter was close to it in the sky. We could see some of its moons through our telescope, and shadows on the walls of deep craters on the moon.

My husband is the romantic in our relationship, and he was right about stargazing being truly romantic. There was a moment as we lay beside each other on the picnic table; I took his hand, and we were quiet together, the stars above us glimmering, the moon draping translucent silver over the line of the hills, and the occasional wink of meteoric light streaking across the sky.

All in all, a truly lovely night.
Tags: mrizh, nature, real life, travel

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