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Where stars shine bright

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve

Does your star shine bright? What do you wish upon a falling star? 

About 2000 stars can be seen with the unaided eye on a black night. With the aid of binoculars and telescopes, we see more and have discovered the depths of space. Our local star, the sun, is not particularly special except to us. Billions and billions more are found in 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the universe.

The Perseids meteor shower each August brings “shooting stars” to wish upon during black moonless nights. For 365 days a year the Earth moves around the sun and then repeats its route. Today is my birthday and the peak of the Perseids shower. I pretend the fireworks is a celebration for my birthday, but I know better. I have taken the trip around the sun 70 times and hope for many more trips. On the trip around the sun, the Earth spins on its axis once every 24 hours making 365 spins. We do not notice the spin because the atmosphere travels about the same speed as the land under it. Air is more fluid than land. We feel it’s refreshing breeze cool our faces on hot August days. At our feet, rock and soil are moved slower by flowing water or strong winds. 

High above in airless space, specks of frozen iron or stone left by passing comets aimlessly move about in a vast void. To our good fortune, some drift into the path of Earth’s orbit. When debris comes in contact with the atmosphere, gravity draws the tiny speck toward our ball of rock. As it descends through the atmosphere at speeds of over 40 miles per second, friction with the air takes it from frozen invisibility to an intense hot glow. We call it a meteor or “shooting star.” Most “shooting stars” are the size of a sand grain.

A heated sand-sized particle glows with effervescence, making a momentary streak of light across the sky as it vaporizes. Most vaporize before reaching land, but occasionally a larger one makes it to Earth as a meteorite. 

When I see a “shooting star” flash on and off in an instant, it reminds me of our own short flash of life. We all come and go in a burning flash; but I allege to have importance in the universe even if it is only for the briefest time. For family, friends, and others, my presence is enjoyed and appreciated. More so, I enjoy knowing and loving them. Hopefully my activities protect and enhance the health and wealth for all nature’s life.

In August, Earth’s orbit passes through space where a comet intersected the orbit at a time when the Earth was elsewhere on its journey around sun. When Earth returns annually to this location, it collides with specks of iron dust and rock particles left floating in space by the comet.

After eons of floating aimlessly, specks of debris have a flash of importance that countless people enjoy if they spend some time looking into the black void above. Upon seeing a shooting star, we ponder private thoughts. Many make a secret wish known only to them. That wish takes its own journey across an endless universe. If lucky, it will materialize. Like most wishes, it more likely will travel on and never come to fruition. 

Our lives, like shooting stars, come and go in a hasty flash that will scarcely be noticed. 

On a dark moonless night among the pinpoints of stars, I see a shooting star and make a wish for the equity, fairness, and wellbeing of all creatures traveling in space at this moment in time. Hopefully during momentary existence, our activities will be selflessly meaningful to sustain life on this minuscule planet. 

Experience flashes of light each August as we pass through debris from the Perseids shower where specks floating haplessly are drawn to Earth creating shooting stars. Make wishes and enjoy being a part of a grand wonderous existence. Explore this planet’s nature niches and travel in mind through the immensity of space.

When my flash burns out, I hope to have aided others in finding contentment in the night’s black sky on this tiny rock called Earth. Be a shining star sharing kindness, love, and compassion for others above self. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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