It is easy to be awe-inspired by the natural wonders right here, but sometimes it takes something like this to understand just how fortunate we are to be alive here on what Sagan called our Pale Blue Dot, a mere speck in what could seem, to some people, to be a universe of emptiness, but that is not unless we never look to the skies.
There will be a full moon for christmas this year (christmas eve into the new day). Step outside, look to the moon, and wave hello to the LRO as it passes through one of the dozen earthrises it has each day while it makes it way across the lunar surface.
Got up this morning at 6 AM only to realize I had a horrible migraine and my guts were rolling, so the pups and I went back to bed after they’d done their business. After a bit more sleep, we got ourselves up and moving, but every step was like someone driving a nail into my head, so I opted for advil and caffeine. No treadmill session this morning. I did, however, get in some time late this afternoon, as the migraine had receded – and I wanted to keep the routine going, so it will just be another (better) habit. Soon, it will be time to add some weight workouts to the mix. For now, though, the med change/supplements/walking plus the assorted minimum outside stuff is what it is.
Took a stroll to the beeyard, and they were out on another gorgeous day. Alas, the day turned cloudy and it began raining this evening, so no Geminids meteor shower show for us at the ranch. As our only connection to the vast intarwebz is via satellite, that also means no live cam monitoring at Slooh. Bummer.
Attention, fellow space nerds: tonight and into tomorrow morning is peak time for the annual Geminids meteor shower. It is supposed to be the most active of the year, but as always, your mileage may vary as much as that of the asteroid/comet debris itself. Because this shower is composed of debris from what has been deemed a rock comet, some of the streaks of material burning up in the atmosphere may be blue, green, or red instead of the more usual white or yellow from icy cometary debris. Since the debris is also just rock (instead of mostly ice), the Geminids can display some stunningly long tails because the bits take longer to burn.
The Geminids are so named because they will appear to originate from the constellation Gemini. It should be a great show for the northern hemisphere, as Gemini is one of the northernmost zodiacals, but the folks in the souther hemisphere will probably be able to see them as well. It’s supposed to be very cold in some places – not here, of course, we’re still basking in our strange fall – so make some hot chocolate, bundle up (especially the kidlets), hope for clear or clear-ish skies, and head out this evening to enjoy the show. Gemini will be in the sky slightly to the left of Orion, so find Orion, look a little to the left to see the twins of Gemini, and then look a bit above them. If you have the chance to just lay flat on the ground or on a car hood against the windshield or in the bed of a pickup to watch, you should: you’ll get a great view of the sky for what will hopefully be the strongest and most active shower of the year.
Apparently I’m the last to know about Neil Armstrong dying, since I’ve been working at the ranch outside almost all day long. RIP, moon man. I was only just past a year old when he piloted the Eagle to Tranquility Base and touched down, but I’ve been fascinated by space forever, and the images beamed back from that first step (and Walter Cronkite’s reaction!) are ingrained on my brain as if I watched it live myself. A true hero, remarkable not just for what he achieved, but for how he handled himself through the years after taking that one small step. We should all be so fortunate to have that kind of character.
Or at least Mars. Twelve and a half hours left until Curiosity (hopefully) touches down on Mars. One day – and I hope this is within my lifetime – we will send people to Mars. I’ll be staying up late to catch NASA TV covering their “seven minutes of terror”, and even the 14 minute wait for transmissions from Mars to reach us here won’t be anywhere near the delays of NBC and their atrocious coverage of the Summer Games.
Most people will never see a launch of the space shuttle live. We went two years ago to the Cape and saw one, and I have to say it is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed, being a space buff – I’m very happy to have gone, sitting in the blazing hot sun waiting, hoping the countdown would not stall. This one was likely no less a treat for the folks on board.