Odd Thoughts: Stars shine across the Rockies

The grandkids were down for a visit early August, just at the time the Perseids meteor shower was at its height.

Not only that, but the tail end of the Aquariid showers was expected to intersect with the Perseids.

Not only that, but this year’s shower was expected to be one of the most brilliant Perseids shower events ever.

I’ve seen it. Years ago. On Vancouver Island. In the Interior.

I wanted the kids to see that. To experience the spectacle.

But not here. Not in the Lower Mainland.

Sure, there are a few fairly decent viewing places where, if the skies aren’t cloudy, you can get a fair glimpse of some of the brighter objects hurtling out of the Perseus constellation at us.

Actually, the meteors, remnants of Comet 109P Swift-Tuttle’s tail, only seem to come out of Perseus. The rocks and ice just hang around in space, and Earth plunges through them each year as we hurtle around the sun.

But I indulge in pedantic digression.

The point is, there’s too much light in the air here to really catch the splendour of the event.

Too many people are too afraid of the dark to allow us to truly experience the celestial spectacle locally.

We headed down to South Aldergrove in the wee hours, nonetheless, hoping to catch a falling star.

We left with little in our pockets for that rainy day.

The sky was clear enough.

But the very molecules that make up the atmosphere here are saturated with light wasted by people who use up kilowatts of energy flooding empty driveways and vacated office buildings with photons that do nothing but compete with starshine.

And the waste is repeated a million-fold in cities, towns, and villages the world over.

But not quite every conclave of dwellings is guilty of the waste any longer.

Enter Bon Accord, an unlikely-named town in Canada’s least Francophone province, decided during its annual equinox festival (Yes! In Alberta! And it gets weirder…) to eschew energy waste and declare itself a Dark Skies Community.

Canada’s first community (and the world’s 11th) to turn off the lights when they’re not needed is populated by Albertans – a race of people who drink crude oil and bathe in liquefied bitumen.

Equinox festivals… living in the dark… these people are truly weird.

And I think they’re stars.



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