11:55 pm, sitting on the couch, getting ready to find something else of interest on Netflix when it happened: the couch tried to toss me onto the floor. Like a cat, though, I was too agile and too quick, successfully grabbing onto the cushions, to be tossed more than an inch or two. I saw the shock wave pass through my house while I was keeping myself firmly reclined, and wondered “Is that a big one in LA, or a little one in Mammoth?” Turns out it was a moderate one, 5.3, squarely on the San Andreas fault, east-north-east of King City.
I immediately did what any sef-respecting computer nerd would do, and made a Facebook and Twitter post. I then started checking the United States Geological Survey‘s website for information. The ground in the area has been twitching for some time, and there have been a few aftershocks at more than 3.0 since the 5.3 hit. Hopefully these are not ‘foreshocks’ to something more dangerous.
After conversing with the other computer nerds online at midnight, or woken up by their beds attempting to toss them onto the floor, I decided it would be a good idea to go find some dark sky, and watch for meteors. My second whammy would come at 3am, but it had nothing to do with the ground moving.
At first I was going to simply drive out of town a short distance, and find some dark areas to look for meteors. Everywhere I went, however, was either too light, or too populated, and I didn’t want to be loitering around somewhere and make anyone nervous. I hit upon the idea of going up to Lemon Hill at Lake Kaweah, and watching the sky from there. As I had been heading out to the southwest of town when I decided on Lemon Hill, I ended up taking a round about route to get there. Once there, however, my plans were spoiled by large parking lot lights glaring down on most of the hilltop. The darkest spot already held an occupied vehicle, but I doubted they were fellow meteor hunters, as they stayed inside the car, and it was pointing the wrong way to watch for Orionids! So.. what to do? Ahh! I know…. the back side of Rocky Hill! That’s as good as the dark side of the Moon (Close Encounters of the Third Kind comes to mind, even if the hill is the wrong shape) so off I went. Once I got there, I pulled over and set about to see what I could see.
WTF?? Clouds? Where the hell did all these fricken’ clouds come from?? Just thick enough to obscure all but the brightest stars, and all but huge meteors. Another skywatcher stopped to chat, and we commiserated over sneaky clouds for a few minutes. They were barely moving, and stretched to the horizon, so I had no hope of them clearing out and letting me glimpse a few pebble vaporizations in the upper atmosphere. Plans thwarted by Mother Nature. She can be a real bitch sometimes!
Whammied by an earthquake, then whammied by clouds. How was your Saturday?