Near Carrawburgh, we sat near the Mithraeum temple of Hadrian’s Wall. It was difficult to tell how many others had also made the journey. We heard voices all around, but our eyes were fixed toward the sky.
It felt almost ritualistic. To be so near to where people in the 3rd century would worship Mithras in a cave-like structure, the remnants of which stand today, gazing toward the sky. Mithraism’s initiation ceremonies had an astrological theme, each initiate named after a different planet as they climbed through the ranks. Isn’t that so perfect a setting to stargaze?
It was kinda assumed that we should be quiet, lest we miss anything happening skywards. There were, of course, sniggers and bursts of laughter from most people. Remember that feeling you got in school? The one where you definitely shouldn’t be laughing, which made everything so much funnier? It was a lot like that.
There was no need for the Perseids to compete with the moon this year. The meteor display coincided with the birth of a new moon which created a blackened sky. We were lucky enough to see the Perseids without any cloud coverage either.
The Perseids are tiny pieces of a comet that can be seen every year. They exist as particles of ice and dust that come from an area of the Perseus constellation.
It was the most amazing experience. Truly existential. Away from air-polluted skies, we were able to sit and marvel at the solar system’s meteor playground, trying not to shout ‘I saw one!’ every time we did. Gone in a split-second – a private moment between you and that one shooting star. Incandesence manifest. I still can’t comprehend how intricate and spectacular a meteor shower is.
I can’t wait for the next one.