As we talked, time suddenly stood still for me. I watched a fluorescent green glowing ball arc across the sky over the trees. There was a yellowish-green tail arching behind it. The center of the green ball was glowing yellow. Although I only saw it for a moment, I noticed intricate details of the bizarre sight. I was impressed by the fact that there was no defined border to this thing; it had an indistinct exterior. I seemed to be moving too.
It felt like an hour that I stood with my mouth open, staring. Only one other woman saw something bright out of the corner of her eye. I'd been knocked out of my own life for an eternity, staring at this strange apparition, then dropped back onto my porch.
When I was in art school, I stood talking with a fellow student one evening. I saw a similar sight - a glowing green ball sweeping through the sky. Later I learned that it was a meteorite entering the atmosphere and landing. A piece of the galaxy, falling to earth.
My second meteorite sighting! That must be significant.
I called the meteorologist at the local weather channel. He told me that the Geminid Meteor Shower was due to start the next evening, and said that I must have seen one of the very first meteors. When I told him it was huge and glowing green with a tail, he was quite surprised. Apparently meteorites of that size were not what he expected.
A piece of a comet hurtled through the dark space between planets for untold numbers of years, then tore through our atmosphere and landed near my house. I stood on my porch on a cold night at 10:00 pm and saw it fly past.
What might it mean, to see a piece of blazing interplanetary debris landing in my neighborhood? What might it mean that I saw one in Maryland 20 years ago and one in Colorado now? Maybe it signifies big changes. Shortly after seeing that first meteorite, my marriage ended. Presumably it would be a different type of change this time.
I wonder what had happened on that comet before it broke into pieces called meteors... Did any creatures live there? How do we know? Maybe there were creatures that our instruments can't detect. What was the surface like? If a piece of the meteorite sits in someone's back yard in my neighborhood, there might be pieces of that comet's history remaining.
I wish I could find it. I'm grateful to have seen something so surprising and otherworldly, but I do wish I could find the meteorite. I'd like to hold it and dream of where it's been.
From the Hubble Observatory's website www.hubblesite.org:
Most of us probably have seen meteors or shooting stars. A meteor is the flash of light that we see in the night sky when a small chunk of interplanetary debris burns up as it passes through our atmosphere. "Meteor" refers to the flash of light caused by the debris, not the debris itself.
The debris is called a meteoroid. A meteoroid is a piece of interplanetary matter that is smaller than a kilometer and frequently only millimeters in size. Most meteoroids that enter the Earth's atmosphere are so small that they vaporize completely and never reach the planet's surface.
If any part of a meteoroid survives the fall through the atmosphere and lands on Earth, it is called a meteorite. Although the vast majority of meteorites are very small, their size can range from about a fraction of a gram (the size of a pebble) to 100 kilograms (220 lbs) or more (the size of a huge, life-destroying boulder).From Wikipedia, regarding the Geminid Meteor Shower:
The Geminids are a meteor shower caused by an object named 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be an extinct comet. The meteors from this shower can be seen in mid-December and usually peak around 12-14 of the month. The Geminid shower is thought to be intensifying every year and recent showers have seen 120-160 meteors per hour under optimal conditions. The Geminids were first observed only 150 years ago, much more recently than other showers such as the Perseids and Leonids.
The meteors in this shower appear to come from a radiant in the constellation Gemini (hence the shower's name). However, they can appear almost anywhere in the night sky, and often appear yellowish in hue. The meteors travel at medium speed in relation to other showers, at about 22 miles per second, making them fairly easy to spot. The Geminids are now considered by many to be the most consistent and active annual shower. In 2005, viewing of the shower was restricted due to a full moon washing out the fainter meteors. The 2006 shower will have a less full moon.