Lyrids Meteor Shower 2012

I can’t be certain, but I may have seen a meteor a few weeks ago just before it exploded mid-air above California’s Central Valley.

It was just around dawn on April 22. I’d been lying on the desert floor at Joshua Tree for hours, surrounded by good friends, good music, and lots of blankets. We had come here specifically to watch the Lyrids Meteor Shower, an annual cosmic display of shooting stars.

This year was special because the meteor shower took place during new moon. This means the sky was darker than usual, allowing the shooting stars to really shine.

For about 6 hours, we lied there admiring our perfect view of the Milky Way, catching about 15 shooting stars per hour. There were moments so dazzling, it felt like we were inside a snowglobe of stars. Incredible!

Just before the sun started to rise, we collectively gasped at one particularly large streak of light across the sky. It almost looked like a small comet – a fireball with a tail and everything! We’d seen so many shooting stars that night and they all happened so quickly. But this one was spectacular.

Hours later as the sun crept up and temperatures rose to a scorching 100+ degrees, we were packing our bags and heading back home to LA. Tired, but oh so satisfied. It was an amazing experience.

Later that week, I was on the phone with my dad and mentioned that I’d gone to the desert to watch this meteor shower. He asked if it had anything to do with the meteor that blew up in the California/Nevada area over the weekend. I hadn’t heard about it, so I looked it up.

Sure enough, there were reports of a meteor described by NASA as “the size of an SUV” soaring across the sky and exploding before it could hit the Earth.

The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2012

It happened right over California’s Central Valley – nowhere near where we were at Joshua tree, which is over 400 miles away. But is it possible it was the same massive glow of light we’d seen that same morning? According to the scientist in the above video, it is possible. She says the meteor was reported to be visible as far as 600 miles away!

Well, either way, it was a pretty kick-ass night and it re-ignited my (only slightly) fading travel spirit. I have not a single photo to show for this trip to Joshua Tree (PS it was my first time there!) – but I can tell you it was one of those uniquely awesome experiences that I’ll always remember no matter what.

PS Thanks to Juwelz and Derrick – aka party planning extraordinaires – for organizing such a fantastic trip!

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