Friday, December 13, 2013
come take a shower with me
My neighbors are celebrating this most Mexican of days. The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I can hear the music from the village square. When I was down there earlier, the kiddie rides, gambling table, and shooting gallery were just getting started. Boys with pesos were doing their best to show their devotion to Our Lady by losing them all to a carny dude.
Our Lady sometimes brings wisdom at a cost.
But I am not there. The music is loud enough for me to enjoy a variant on the celebration in the square. Both involve stars. Mine are above me.
Tonight is the opening night of the two-night Geminid meteor shower. Probably the most active annual meteor shower on Earth. The spiel is almost Barnum, but has the added virtue of being true.
Every December Earth's orbit takes it through the debris trail of Phaethonan, an asteroid that also orbits the sun. When the debris burns up in our atmosphere, we get a natural fireworks show. Trash into treasure.
I am sitting on my roof as I write this on Thursday night. The astronomers estimate 30 to 60 meteors per hour tonight. And the shower is living up to its billing.
Unfortunately, the moon is up. That means the faintest meteors are invisible. Even so, it is a Francis Scott Key evening up here.
If I remember, I am going to get up on Friday morning around 4 AM when the moon sets. That should give me about a two hour window of light-free meteor watching.
Friday night Earth will be deep into the debris trail. The frequency will double to 60 to 120 meteors per hour. The down side is that the best viewing will be reduced to an hour due to the later setting of the moon. But it should be one amazing hour.
And, best of all, living in Mexico means that I will have plenty of clear skies to see another of God's little miracles.
This is one grand Christmas season.