Finding Cosmic Insignificance in the Orionids

The Orionid meteor shower occurs every October, as faithfully as Halloween. For roughly a week, tadpole-bits of Halley’s Comet streak through Earth’s upper atmosphere at speeds of around 15,000 miles per hour. They seem to emerge from the constellation Orion, thus giving the event its moniker.

This year, the meteors peaked on the evening of Saturday, October 20, into early Sunday morning. At midnight on Sunday, three friends and I awoke from naps and piled into a car in search of a dark patch of land. We were looking for shooting stars, and a sense of our own insignificance.

Two months into school, our worlds had necessarily shrunk in the drying-machine cycles of midterms, hormones and expectations. We started to inhabit our books, our social circles, our short-term goals.

But that evening, we promised ourselves, no matter how busy we were, no matter how much work we had, we would lay side by side, listen to the sound of the ocean, and watch some meteors tear through the night sky.

—-

A song for stargazing:

The feature image is a photo of an Orionid meteor taken by Tommy Eliassen in Korgfjellet, Hemnes, Norway on October 20, 2012.

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