I sit for hours after sunset hoping the mosquitos don't drive me indoors. I've watched satellites, aircraft, and the International Space Station move across the night sky multiple times over the years, but an Iridium Flare is something I have yet to witness.
The smartphone app only predicts a brightness magnitude 6.0 for the satellite I am looking for this evening. There are high thin clouds threatening from the east, but the constellation Cassiopeia can still be seen above the horizon, so I'm not too worried about missing the event.
A meteorite burns across the sky, fizzling out quickly overhead, then another with a much longer trail from the south. I keep my eye on the heavens thinking about how easy it is to become distracted from the bigger picture above when one is here on Earth. It can be difficult to remember that many stars continue to shine, even if one is all we usually notice during the daylight hours.
The first flare I see doesn't appear on the app that I use to track them. It is bright and brilliant and brief and wholly unexpected. It is a bit longer before the satellite I am expecting begins to rise above the horizon, but there are too many clouds. I hold the smartphone up to the sky and let the astronomy app measure where the flare will occur, knowing it will be near Cassiopeia, and minutes later, as predicted, the flare occurs at 10:52 p.m. The Iridium Flare isn't quite as eventful as I imagined, at least on this night, but maybe that isn't really what I came out here to see.
In this world, it can be easy to feel separated from such a vast universe. Whether the cause of this separation is nightly light pollution or the very homes or careers we don't take enough breaks from, it can be easy to replace "we are a part of" with too much "I am". Individual accomplishment is important to survival, but so, too, is being humble and always learning to remember what went into existence.