Monday, March 16, 2015


in the night sky from the deck of the rental house in Morro Bay, California, I had a sudden inspiration to check the internet for constellations (other than Orion and the Pleiades).  I hopped right up from my semi-reclining position on the deck and went into the house for my laptop.

Online, I googled "constellations" and this is the site I came to first:  A mystery cloud is possible in the night sky.  Hmm.  I was slightly annoyed that I wasn't directed to a site showing star patterns, but I skimmed over this article and did some calculating in my head.  How interesting, the time frame for a possible sighting of this cloud (produced by fuel possibly dumped [by a rocket launched at Cape Canaveral in Florida a couple hours prior] before leaving the atmosphere) would occur about now (some minutes past nine-thirty p.m.)!

But what were the odds? I wondered.
 "The fuel dump is visible by virtue of reflected sunlight; if it occurs within the Earth's shadow, then no sunlight can reach it and the cloud would be rendered invisible."
And the odds of seeing it in the California sky? Slim to none, I decided, and dismissed it. I didn't even read to the end of the info.

I returned to the deck, where The Yard Man, His Sis and the Bro-in-Law were still lounging.  "I see something up there," announced His Sis, pointing toward the southern sky.  "Can you see it?  It looks like a small cloud.  I've been watching it, and it's been getting bigger.  What would that be?!"

Uh. Wait. What?!
I hurried back to look for a description of the mystery cloud, and found this:
"In the past, similar fuel dumps initially have appeared as a point of light that resembled a bright star seen through fog, or the moon  behind clouds. Quickly, it expands into a large circular or spiral cloud that gradually fades from view after a number of minutes."

The round cloud was fading from view as I returned once again to the deck.  Altogether, it was visible to our little group of star-gazers for perhaps four minutes.  It was exactly as described on the website!

There was no doubt as to what we had seen, we temporary Morro-Bayers peering up at the night sky from the deck of our rental house!
We saw this mystery cloud, and it was no mystery to us, in spite of:

...The uncertainty of the occurrence in the first place
...The slim odds of spotting it with our limited view (less than a third of the night sky in our vision from where we sat (facing only south and west; roof of the rental house impinging on our view)
...The fact of its relatively small size
... The fact of its very short duration

Well, what do you think, Reader Dear
(You with the inside information)
Terrific Timing?!
Fantastic Fluke?!
Uncommon Coincidence?!*
*I have to admit, I'm still marveling many days later!


sk said...

You dummy. It was a miracle.

KTdid said...

My goodness, sk, perhaps you are right!