Archive for December 2017

December 16 – 3200 Phaethon, Geminids and Beethoven   Leave a comment

Sky & Telescope diagram from 11/29/17, Bob King S&T blog

December’s not just about the holidays. There’s also a lot of nifty stuff happening in the nighttime skies now. For starters, did you know that there’s a ginormous asteroid headed our way? It’s name is 3200 Phaethon and it’s coming pretty darn close to the Earth – only 6,407,618 miles (or, to put it in perspective, 27 times the distance between the Earth and Moon). And here’s the cool thing about 3200 Phaethon: it’ll be moving so fast you’ll be able to track it! It’s going to be its closest on December 16 and if you have a 3″ telescope, you’ll able to make it out, as it will reach magnitude 10.7. It’ll pass through Perseus on December 12-14, then grow closest on the 16 as it whizzes through Andromeda, then on the 17-19 pass through the Great Square/Pegasus, and eventually heading out of view through Aquarius and Capricorn.

For an excellent article regarding 3200 Phaethon, please read Sky & Telescope’s article by Bob King.

If you do glimpse through a telescope, you might notice that it’s kind of dim as it nears closest to the Earth. That’s because it’s reflecting the sun and its full phase will be on December 12, when it’s not quite as close, and a waning gibbous as it grows nearer.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

Go outside after 21:00 UTC/9:00 pm EST and glance toward Gemini for a real treat…the Geminids!

From “The Stars,” H.A. Rey, pp. 44, 97

 

Okay, I admit the above two pictures aren’t that great (I used my iPhone to take a picture of the above pages), but they’ll give you an idea of what and where to look around 9:00 pm. Gemini is a pretty easy constellation to find. If you know what Orion looks like, you can see he’s using his club to point right at them, as if he’s showing you where they are. They’ll be rising almost in the center of the sky, a bit to the south.

3200 Phaethon happens to be the father of the Geminids. As it passes closer to the sun, it kicks off detritus that enables the Geminids to occur (again, please read S&T article for more information – you won’t regret it).

So here’s what you do in order to get the best viewing experience for the Geminids. Try to find an open space that’s relatively dark, away from too much light. Pick out Gemini and you will see two bright stars for their heads – Pollux is the brightest and Castor is dimmer. Near Casto is the radiant, or point of origin for the meteor shower. From there, all the meteors will travel outward. Think of the radiant as the center of a daisy and the petals as the outward-flying meteors.

For your reference, here’s an image from Sky & Telescope:

What also makes this the ideal year for viewing the Geminids is the Moon will be a waning crescent, so its light will not interfere with anyone’s enjoyment. Even when it rises in the early morning hours, it’ll remain more of a passive bystander than a pest, leaving everyone with immense satisfaction instead of disappointment.

So what’s all this got to do with Beethoven?

Besides being one of the greatest composers ever to have lived, he was born on December 16, 1770 (or so it’s believed; another story for another time). His music was included on the Voyager golden disk that was sent out into space in 1977. In case you’re wondering what those works are: “Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67: I. Allegro Con Brio,” played by the Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer and “String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Opus 130: V. Cavatina,” played by the Budapest String Quartet.

As you venture out to gaze at the nighttime sky to catch a glimpse of one of nature’s amazements, why not take along a recording of these works and listen as streaks of light flash past, and marvel at the wonder of it all.

Now that’s what I call a celebration!

 

 

When the Writer Can’t Write   1 comment

Once again, I find myself at a loss for words.

I sit in front of the computer, unable to move forward with any discernible thoughts. It’s not as if I have writer’s block. It’s worse. I can’t explain why I’ve lost my ability to create.

My brain begs to differ. All inside of my head there’s a rambling of ideas and plot lines. As I work, I resolve my characters head-hopping ways and force them to tell a story from only one side’s perspective. I’ve figured out how to end that book of mine so that any reader will gasp and say, “OMG! WTF!!” But when I actually open the files and attempt to take on the edits I need to do so I can once and for all submit the book to my agent…no words come calling.

My spirit isn’t up to the task. I can’t even manage to keep up this blog, which I used to write twice a week. Now if I manage two entries a month, it’s an achievement.

You see, I’ve had some significant life changes. The loss of both my parents, my marriage and my career in an 18-month span all added up. Writing lessened the sting. This blog, plus my book, kept me going during the darkest hours. I have a friend who lost his father in a tragic accident and his balm for dealing with his unbearable pain was writing. He encouraged me to keep at it. I did, and it helped. Some of my best stuff happened after pushing back tears and willing myself to concentrate. Use that emotion somewhere, I thought, and as I dug down, I felt the sharp sting my characters faced during a conflict. And as my sister will tell you, that’s where and when my best writing occurred.

Then something odd happened when I moved out of my former home to a new town and began a solo life once more: much as I wanted to, I couldn’t write. Anything.

For fifteen years I lived in a house with my husband and son. Our lives revolved around each other, no matter how awful things turned, and while things grew odd and often painful, that house still was my home. Then I moved out and lived alone. That didn’t bother or frighten me, it’s just how my life panned out and I accepted it. As mentioned in my last blog, I pulled out my computer and resolved to write again. As much as I’d will myself to, those damn words refused to cooperate. There’s only so long one can stare at a screen and not get bug-eyed, especially if there’s no reward for the effort. So I’d give up and feel worse than before.

One afternoon, having the day off from the retail job I took to survive, I regarded a chair from my mother’s former bedroom. She’d had it reupholstered in ecru, with a delicate floral pattern tangled in the weave. Mom set it in the corner next to her dresser. She never sat in it. As she approached the end of her run, that chair provided an excellent substitute for her closet. The same shirts and pants she wore day in and out rested on its back and seat. Now it sits in my living room next to the fireplace. I ran my hand across the top, smiled and thought of her. I sat down in it, leaned back and stared out at nothing in particular. My mind emptied.

And there I remained, for over an hour, paralyzed.

When I finally snapped out of it, I grew frightened. What’s happening to me? I thought.  A tsunami overwhelmed my brain. All that I’d been through, all the loss, the pain, the hurt, betrayal, all of it, consumed me. I gasped for air, sobbing, still in that chair. Is Mom in this chair with me? Is she making me feel this way? Am I cracking up? How did I get like this? What’s wrong with me?

See, I’d been muddling through for so long I’ve never had much opportunity for grieving over all I’ve lost. But in that moment in a chair that never had much use, it handed me a big dose of pain. The tears dried up, as they will, only to be replaced by numbness I’d never felt before. My eyes closed. Sank my head in my hands. Felt my heart race and ring in my ears.

And again, yet another hour drifted passed, without notice.

Finally, I pulled myself up and out of the chair. This is no way to be. The sun shone through the venetian blinds.  A thick carpet of leaves swirled in the breeze on my lawn. A noisy truck roared down the main street. Dogs barked. Life continued in my new hometown, unafraid, normal, as it should be. I glanced out the window and noticed the ruddy shade of the mountains that ring the town. It’d grown late in the day and sunset approached. I could have written this afternoon…why didn’t I?

I’ve beaten myself up too much as of late. That book of mine will be completed. Soon. But I’ve got to reclaim my ability first. And rather than overwhelm myself with what I need to do, I convinced myself I’ll start small, a little bit each day, and write anything, even if it’s once sentence. I can tweet, I can comment on Facebook, I can keep a blog.

It’s writing. It’s a start.

 

 

Posted December 5, 2017 by seleneymoon in Writing

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