Weekday Excursion: Gazing at Geminid Meteor Shower

The night before my last two finals, my roommate invited me to join her and some classmates (8 in total) to a suburb outside of Harbin to observe the Geminid meteor shower. In Chinese, meteor shower is liuxing yu, or “raining shooting stars.”I thought that was neat. We met up at around 6:00pm and took a train to Yuquan, a suburb outside of the city known for its skiing. It was an hour and a half of me going back and forth studying Ancient Chinese and talking to the old Chinese man that was mumbling to me in Russian and Chinese. He was impressed by my Mandarin language abilities, but also surprised that I (a white person with blue eyes) could not understand a lick of Russian.

We were shooed off the train and were glad to see a clear night sky above. A van picked us up and sped across icy roads to a ski resort where we planned to stay the night. We were shown into a room that had two kang (a lifted floor that is heated by fire underneath) along opposing walls. However, before settling in, we immediately set our things down and went out to encounter the bitter cold to see the stars! I clumsily hiked up the ski hill with my layers upon layers of clothing and finally reached the top. The sky was so clear and there were so many stars. I saw my first shooting star fly by Orion’s bow.

The shooting stars were endless. Every minute I saw 2-3…I ran out of people to wish for! As Mengnan’s classmates were fiddling with telescopes and taking pictures, I remembered the good old days when my Minnesotan friends would go star tripping. That is when you look at one star in the sky and spin around, after spinning, someone shines a light into your face. I didn’t have a light, but I began spinning around and around. The sky began to rotate quickly, but its rotation felt natural. As I spun, I saw pairs “raining” stars shoot across the sky. In total, I saw more than 40 shooting stars that night. Spinning, spinning, spinning–I heard the train crack along the distant tracks as it passed by the sleeping town. The train came from Harbin. If you looked into the distance, you could still see the metropolis’ smog and its diluted city lights.

[EDIT: For those who want to know, I did well on my finals. Also, I did not take good pictures this night. I am waiting on Mengnan’s friends to send me photos.]

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