I have a really good habit of missing good things. I don’t know how it happens, but I just find out about them last minute, or I live in a place that makes them impossible to appreciate in person. A prime example of this is last weekend; it was the Perseid meteor shower, a breathtaking sky of falling stars that happens once a year. I think I’ve forgotten about this for about four years running now, although this year I remembered two days before. Hurrah, I thought to myself, now I can plan to watch them, and get a cosy blanket and a thermos flask of tea (note to self: buy a thermos flask) and sit on a hill somewhere with a great view of the sky. What a brilliant plan.
Then I checked the weather. And of course it’s summer here in the UK, so it was overcast and miserable all fucking weekend. Just my luck.
Two years ago, I went on the holiday of a lifetime. I went to the island of Fiji, which is about a thousand miles north of New Zealand, and stayed in a hotel on the north of the island. It is probably one of the most remote places on the planet, and is one of the best star-gazing spots I have ever experienced. Seriously, if you are into your stars, I thoroughly recommend a trip there. It was so clear that I could see the Large Magellanic Cloud — which might not sound very impressive, as I bet you see clouds all the time, right? But the Large Magellanic Cloud is a pretty misleading name. It’s actually a galaxy — that’s right, an actual galaxy — about 163,000 light years away. And in Fiji, it’s visible to the naked eye. Whilst lying in a hammock drinking cocktails. To try to put that into any kind of personal context, in London I struggle sometimes to even make out the moon clearly (although to be honest, sometimes that might be because I’ve had too many cocktails and I can’t tell the difference between the moon and the reflection of a lamp in the window).
On the last two nights in Fiji, after spotting the Large Magellanic Cloud in the sky, I planned to spend some time down on the beach with my DSLR trying my hand at photographing the stars. Not celebrities, as I wasn’t cool enough to be hanging out with them, I mean, actual stars. Turns out, on the last two nights it poured down with rain both evenings and I couldn’t see a thing, let alone take any photographs. As I said, I have a real habit of missing good things.
Originally published at Quirk and Folly.