Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rising star.

There's a 25 foot observation tower in the Hobe Sound Federal Wildlife preserve about 150 yards from my house. I took flashlight and binoculars up the steep stairs at about a quarter to 8 Friday night. The night was beautiful and I had a full 360 degree panorama at above treetop height. The full moon was up about a hand's breadth above the mangroves to the east and reflected off the water of the intracoastal waterway below.

As my watch closed in on 7:55, I began to wonder if I could actually see anything through the haze on the horizon, if the launch would go off on time (I forgot to bring a radio) and whether I was being silly for braving the mosquitoes to try to see something over a hundred miles away. I didn't bring a compass either and wondered if I would miss the whole thing because the tower's roof blocked the North star.

Then the sun began to rise in the North, the few clouds traversed the spectrum from a dim, hardly perceptible red glow, to a brighter orange, to yellow as silently, majestically, the long trail of flame rose above the sunrise like a comet.

At about 30 degrees above the horizon, the solid fuel boosters dimmed, separated and fell, leaving only an ever-rising blue-white star climbing and arching over until it appeared finally to be falling as it made it's way across the Atlantic. By the time I got back to my house they were over Africa and half way to dawn.


Buffalo said...

Sure wish I could have seen it.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Beautiful. The way you wrote it made me feel like I was there with you. :-)

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Time to make you jealous. My reef is about 45 minutes north of the Space Center and I saw the shuttle rise over my condo in full glory. Could hear it too!

Capt. Fogg said...

I thought the silence made it more eerie and otherworldly. All I could hear were the odd clicks and pops you hear in mangrove thickets and the chuckling of nested birds. Seeing it apparently heading downwards while knowing it was climbing makes it possible to see directly how the earth isn't flat.