The big astronomical story of the week is this year's Perseid Meteor Shower, when the Earth makes its annual trip through debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The cruel joke for the New York Metro Area stargazer is the ubiquitous light pollution. As if that weren't bad enough, we've been in the midst of a heat wave characterized by violent thunderstorms.
Last night, as I drove to work, the sky was lit by numerous lightning strikes, as many as I can ever recall seeing. Heading north on the Parkway, my foremost thought was, "Great, I'm driving into the thick of the storm." The lightning strikes continued throughout much of the night, to the extent that I limited my outdoor activity- if I'm reluctant to go outside, and I'm on the payroll, someone who's not on the payroll isn't going to be jumping the fence to wander around.
This evening, my beloved Yonkers played host to a short but intense thunderstorm. When I left the house for work, the rays of the setting sun shone through the high clouds, suffusing everything with a beautiful, ale-colored light more appropriate for Carina 4269 than for dear old Sol. The camera doesn't quite capture the sheer loveliness of the light conditions:
While the rain had passed by the time I hit the road, I could again see the play of lightning illuminating the clouds to the north. The storms raging to the north weren't great rain events, but there were dangerous lightning strikes about fifty miles up the Hudson.
The storms seem to have moved on, but the sky is still somewhat overcast. I'm hoping that the clouds break, so I can catch a glimpse of the meteor shower, but at any rate, I've had quite the eyeful of celestial fireworks.