Quadrantid is an annual meteor shower. Originating from debris left by comet 2003 EH1, Quadrantid peaks tonight with an estimated 100 meteors an hour. Finding its source in the night sky is easy; find Polaris (the north star ) and you’ve found Quadrantid.
Unfortunately we have a party crasher. Most people have heard of a “waxing moon” or “waning moon” , both of which are Gibbous moons; the no mans land between half and full. Waxing being on the way to full, waning after a full moon. Tonight’s waning gibbous moon is bright enough to block out all but the brightest meteors.
Fortunately there are plenty more meteor showers. The Lyrids in April will suffer from a pesky waning moon, the Aquarids , Delta Aquarids, Perseids, Draconids, Orionids, Taurids, and Leonids follow. Click on the link to earthsky, bookmark it and plan a magical night of star gazing. Nothing restores the soul like wishing on a falling star.
Growing up the prospect of a solar eclipse was big news. Granted the sixties and seventies were different times. I grew up in an age when we all gazed skyward. An era of lunar landings, rockets, and space probes. We sat glued to our B&W televisions as mission control made their final count down. Popular Mechanics magazine was popular and Captain Kirk warped his way across the universe. Quantum physics, string theory, and dark matter were unheard of. Food was cooked on a stove not zapped, telephones were wired to the wall, and nothing short of joy describes packing away the eight track tape in favour of the cassette.
I realize my ponder is lost on anyone under 40 but there is a relevant point.
The future I used to read about has arrived. It’s not the past that makes me nostalgic, nothing makes me happier than sitting at my computer. What worries me is the disconnect from our world. We all move so fast. The world passes by as the “road trip” is replaced with “all inclusive” vacations. Terror describes the reaction to losing a cell phone, the one device many are incapable of putting aside for even the briefest of moments. Texting not talking has become the preferred means of communication, often the only assurance we have of reaching someone. Coffee shops; once the place to meet and exchange ideas,silent but for the faint tap of keys on Mac Books. We have “friends” we’ve never met, debates with strangers, and fail to recognise the irony when shelling out for the latest self help e-book.
It would be unreasonable to expect the realm of possibility to ever include setting aside our modern tools. There will always be a future, technology is unstoppable. What’s sad is how runaway advances have taken away our ability to dream and imagine.
I can’t think of a better way to charge your spirit or feel restored than to gaze at the sky. The Taurids peaked last night so chances of an earth bound fireball are slim. My suggestion is a good old fashioned eclipse. Unless you live in Australia the next total eclipse of the sun on Nov. 14 isn’t much good. Don’t despair there will be plenty more. Given fair warning you can arrange an “event” to watch it with all your facebook “friends” The only catch – you have to actually go outside and see it for yourself.