Light Show by God

I have been really blessed in my life to have had some awe-inspiring experiences. Some of them were even out of bed.

In the late 1970s I went to a Santana concert at the Zoo Ampitheatre in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is an outdoor theatre, with a few stone rows of seats, but mostly a big sloping grassy bowl where we sit on blankets and pillows. Well, it was then – I’ve been looking for a photo and it looks like they’ve built it up quite a bit. Too bad.

Santana performing outdoors under the stars in an intimate setting would have been outstanding, but as the powers that be would have it – they amped it up one more time.

A thunderstorm.

Oklahoma does thunderstorms right. Lots of drama. Low black clouds. Lightning in the sky. And big huge raindrops. The rain was intermittent. So the band would play, Santana would provide his beautiful guitar solos, and behind him dark skies were split with purple lightening bolts.

When the rain began to fall, the band apologized, but they were a little afraid of being electrocuted by their equipment. The roadies covered everything with plastic, and the band left the stage. The audience, being used to Oklahoma’s dramatics I suppose, pulled our blankets over our heads and continued to sit in the rain, hoping the band would return. So they did.

In time the rain did abate, and Santana came back to the stage, took the mike and said, “Music by Santana, light show by God”. And played another hour or so – until the rain came down again.

I am a sky watcher. Always have been. I love the stars and I love to find good places to watch the stars. New Mexico is one of the darkest places in the U.S.A. due to lack of big cities and living in the parks in New Mexico, I really got some fantastic sky gazing in.

I got to watch two amazing lunar eclipses. One as I was floating on Elephant Butte lake in a kayak. Another was on Christmas Eve. I spent it laying in a specially insulated sleeping bag outside at the ranch we lived on for a time. Both were deep red bloody moons and well worth waiting for and watching.

From now until November 7, you can do some pretty great sky watching if you are so inclined. Wednesday morning, from 1 am to dawn (as in tomorrow) find a dark place, and lay on your back with your feet pointed southeast if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, or northeast if you are in the Southern Hemisphere and watch the sky for the peak point of the Orionid meteor shower. These aren’t the biggest meteors but they’re active and they have a reputation for leaving long bright streaks in the sky. The moon was new only a few days ago, so it will be a bare sliver and will set before the big show begins.

And on Halloween, there’s a special show. The Orionids will still be coming down (until Nov. 7 actually), plus Mars will be clearly visible because it’s currently the closest to Earth it has been in 60,000 years. You can find Mars by looking above and to the right of that big full moon. Yes, the moon will be full on Oct. 30 and 31st – and even better – it is a BLUE moon.

No, it won’t look blue – but it is the second full moon in the calendar month of October, the first having been back on October 1st. “Once in a blue moon” is a phrase that means almost never, but in fact they normally occur every two to three years. For it to come on Halloween, a cross-quarter holiday for Pagans – and all our holidays are based on the motions of the stars and planets – well, it’s pretty special.

I think of this one as “light show by the Goddess”.

And yes, I’ll be outside in the driveway on a blanket. Totally weirds the neighbors out, but hey, if you’re up at 3 am and out meandering around I doubt you have any room to criticise me. Even here in Las Vegas.

Now go on outside and find yourself a dark spot to watch the star show tonight. It’s free. Bring your own blanket and refreshments.

Blessedbe

6 comments

  1. Mt. Pinos is about 60 miles away. It is about the closest you can be to LA and be even vaguely dark sky. It helps that it is over 8000 ft. elevation. I’ve gone up there to watch meteor showers and catch a glimpse of Saturn.

    1. I am always surprised that I have the stars I do living in Las Vegas. Truth is, long as I look south I’m good. North – is the strip. It was amazing those first few weeks of the pandemic. The smog cleared and the nights were dark. Ah well…

  2. That reminds me of the one thing I miss not living on my parent’s farm: the dark nights.
    I used a telescope for awhile, and I still prefer that for planet gazing, 10×50 binoculars are my favorite for general star gazing. Looking into Sagittarius, galactic center, is just so beautiful.

    1. I hope you’ve been able to find a spot to enjoy the Saturn and Jupiter show this summer! I’m down to bare eyes but have hopes to get a telescope to install outside in time. I had one some years ago and it was a delight.

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