"Ayun! Ayun! Ayun!" This is what you hear throughout the night of December 14 followed by thundering shouts and laughter from all 22 people lying down and packed like sardines at the upper deck of the Manila Observatory Ateneo Loyola. The moon was a mere crescent, the sky was clear despite occasional hovering clouds that slowly formed and slowly cleared - it was a perfect night for a perfect meteor observation. And we had a 360-degree view of the sky.
The Geminid meteor shower lived up to its name as the best for the year 2007. And why should it not be? Meteor bursts were from all directions - east, west, north, south, zenith, horizon. The meteors showered every minute. There was some lull but followed by more bursts. The shower peaked at 11 PM to 2:30 AM when the meteors of all sizes came from everywhere. You would think that the radiant was not Gemini. We saw lots coming directly from Orion. Unbelievable! A little break to check something and you missed one or two, so we had to crane our sights straight front and our peripheral visions left and right. The first we saw at exactly 7:55 PM, which seemed to signal the start of the meteor show, dazzled us as the meteor horizonally streaked across the southern sky from east to west. It was the biggest, the brightest, and the flashiest of all! Dalai and I spontaneously shouted and clapped our hands on sight of this. My God! That was really spectacular and for me,
Now let's backtrack a little. Not wanting to miss the possible burst right after dark, I arrived at the Manila Observatory at 6:30 PM. I had to wait for Dalai who came a minute after me but had to finish some work at her Office. She came back at 7:30 PM; immediately we went up the roofdeck. Edna, Agnes, and the students from RTU, Ateneo, and UP came before 9:00 PM. All positioned their observing locations and used newspapers as improvised mats. The RTU group had tasks to do as assigned by their instructor Doc Lee. Kevin especially was up all night sketching the constellation where each counted/sighted meteor came from. Before 10:30 PM, they already counted 138 according to info by Edna. I myself stopped counting after I reached 100 because I kept losing track of my last number in my excitement. But Edna's peculiar counting made me laugh. After our shouts quickly died down, you would hear her still, quiet, low, but very clear voice counting out "41." She counted all the
meteors from 1 to 50 in the same monotone but melodic manner throughout until she reached 50 and stopped then slept (as she planned).
Mars was right up there too, but everyone concentrated on the Geminid meteor shower. No telescopes, no binoculars. Most of the PAS Observation team begged off because they were supposed to leave 5 AM the next day for Tagaytay with the St. Paul group. That's too bad. Personally, I wouldn't miss the Geminids for anything else. We left MO at 5 AM. Even when we were already at Gate 2, we still saw some meteors flashing in the sky. I rushed out to catch the 7:30 AM bus to Tuguegarao. I wanted to see the Geminids again at home.
And so I did. As soon as the bus arrived at the station at 7:30 PM, I looked up and saw several meteors right away despite the lights from the nearby mall. What a stark contrast to the skies in Manila. The sky is much, much, much darker here at home; and thus the constellations look like flashing jewels in the dark sky. The Geminid show that I briefly saw here though was mostly like a "shower." There were no long, flashy, bright streaks. Unfortunately, no one was willing to go to the farm. Dark daw. (Now I see your point, Agnes.) That's when I realized how lucky I was to have witnessed the Dec. 14 peak with like minds and like spirits (as John said) in Manila. There are bright Christmas lights and bright lamp posts everywhere here in our barangay. All these plus the blocking trees and my setting fatigue from all-night no-sleep Friday and the 12-hour trip that I subjected myself to whole day on Saturday gave way to an uncalled for sleep under the stars at our roofdeck on
Saturday night. The early-morning loud Christmas music from the barangay hall across heralded the end of the Geminid meteor observation as a thick veil of clouds inched across the sky slowly and totally obscuring the constellations from view.
The Geminid meteor shower, how can one who witnessed it ever forget that? It's a priceless Christmas gift and treasure from the Heavens and a dazzling celestial spectacle that will always be reminisced for life.
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