Thursday, August 12, 2004

Oseh Ma'aseh Bereishit

Plans for tonight: watching the Perseid meteor storm. Unlike the Transit of Venus, this time I'm sure of the correct bracha.

My wife and I have a favorite dark spot about a half-hour drive from home where we go when we want to stargaze. It's been a long time since our last outing. It's not exceptionally dark there by starwatching standards; for good sites, you need to get further out of town than we can manage without a hotel stay. Israel's just too urban, and its cities and suburbs are too well lit.

The Israeli Astronomical Association is organizing a Perseids watching party in the Negev's Ramon Crater, but we don't have time for that kind of shlep. The Golan is also recommended, but too far for a day trip - or night trip.

Actually, the peak of the Perseids was forecast for last night, but, like most Israelis, I work on Thursdays. Not so on Fridays; I can afford to sleep in tomorrow. (In any case, it's unlikely to compare with the spectacular 1998 Leonids storm, which was likely a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.)

So: wonders of creation, here we come!


Rachel Ann said...

I hope you enjoyed the show. I wish I had the chance...but I didn't even know about it till now!

Anonymous said...

The more interesting question is whether you can say a brocha on a celestial event that is viewed through the aid of a telescope or binoculars, and not with the naked eye. There is a very nice article on that question in Rabbi Bleich's series on contemporary halachic questions. The answer, according to many opinions, is yes; but it is by no means trivial. (This would only apply to your previous gazing and any future comet watches, I presume, since most people observe meteor showers with the naked eye)

Zman Biur said...

I'd be curious to see R' Bleich's article. Not having seen the halachic sources, my intuition would assume that one can't say a bracha on phenomena not visible to the naked eye. (Regarding the transit of Venus, there is the added question of whether it is tantamount to an eclipse, on which I believe we generally don't make a bracha.)

As you say, though, the question is not relevant to meteors.