Columnist on sport: “We Three Queens and Runners Are”
By: Jamie Miles
During these months when the sun stays tucked underneath horizon, my morning running group witnesses quite the star show during our pitch black runs. The best views are found in what we 20 lay astronomers/road warriors call the “Planetarium,” or more commonly known as Cedar Lakes and Veranda Park where the heavens spread all around us like an ebony velvet blanket.
When Stephanie, Lucy and I head into the Planetarium on cold dark mornings, we three wise runners are decked in robes of reflective nylon and carried on the backs of Brooks, Avia and Nike. Our heads wrapped in muffs and ear bands. Scanning the star show skies, some things are too phenomenal not to stop and point. Last November, we three witnessed an amazing meteor shower. Not a voluminous spray of shooting stars, rather three or four times each morning huge glowing objects glided across the heavens. Shooting stars – but unlike any I had ever witnessed – large, glowing spectacularly slow-moving orbs.
We stumbled upon the Taurid meteor shower. Particles of dust and debris from the trail of some comet, meteor complexes perpetually orbit the sun. Annually, the earth travelling in its orbit intersects many different met eor groups. Each fall, the earth passes through the Taurid complex known for its “fireballs.” And this fall, especially a week in November, they were quite extraordinary to see.
At the time, we running magi didn’t know what we witnessed, but we knew we had seen something magical, so unearthly and so much mightier than we three.
Long ago viewing a star parked over Bethlehem, scientists from the east couldn’t Google their heavenly vision to see whether they observed a comet, planetary conjunction or super nova. But spurred on by the unexpected sight, they travelled for months to investigate.
If we running wise gals happened upon a sleeping baby one morning at the earthly end to a Taurid’s fireball, we wouldn’t have much to offer the object of all the heavenly fuss. Lucy might present the babe her cell phone, Stephanie – her flashlight. The only thing I could offer (other than a used tissue) would be my gloves for those wee hands.
Large or small any meteor’s impact changes the earth forever. Two thousand years ago, a tiny star fell from the heavens shaking the foundations of all life and matter. As tempting as it is to keep exploring the heavens for miraculous sights, a better quest is to keep searching the terrain down here for now. For when running in the dark, an epiphany – whether baby, meteor crater or occasional pothole – can be easily missed, until it is too late. Of this, I painfully know all too well.
Published in the January 1, 2009 edition.