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Thursday, August 11, 2016


by John Beaton

Get Ready for the Perseids Meteor Shower: ‘It Will Rival the Stars in the Sky.’ NASA estimates that between 160 and 200 meteors will ignite in Earth’s atmosphere every hour during the display’s peak on Thursday night and Friday morning. . . . In this case, the debris were ejected when Comet Swift-Tuttle visited in 1862 or earlier.—The New York Times, August 10, 2016. Photo: A Perseids meteor streaking across the sky near Pirdop, Bulgaria, early on Aug. 12, 2015. Credit Nikolay Doychinov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via The New York Times

We’ll view the night-sky Perseids this week;
the shooting stars are back to entertain
with showers from the swift Swift-Tuttle's streak,
those particles which comet tails entrain.
They fall, though most are small as grains of sand
and very few much bigger than a pea,
as fireballs which, though they seldom land,
burn bright enough for all the world to see.

What might we think if we were on that rock
and flew by less than each one hundred years?
Our city lights would shine more with each pass.
Perhaps those meteors don’t turn to smoke
and, like the strike that killed the dinosaurs,
they’ve pocked poor Earth with fire and poison gas?

John Beaton, a retired actuary who was born in Scotland, is a widely published poet and spoken word performer from Vancouver Island, Canada.