Friday, August 12, 2005


Original art by Elaine Meinel Supkis

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Tonight we will see the spectacular show, one of the oldest shows in the memory of humanity, the amazing Perseid showers. The stars will rain down upon our heads all night long and this year is going to be a memorable show indeed.

For as long as records exist, the Perseid meteor showers have always been strong. This summer's Perseid shower will be exceptional. The moon is mostly out of the way later in the night, and higher-than-normal activity rates are expected over the United States.

The Perseid shower's parent body, comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, is notable in being a comparatively huge comet in an orbit that passes close to Earth's orbit frequently. It measures 24-31 kilometers in diameter, 2 to 3 times the size of comet Halley, and is so big that the continuous ejection of water vapor and dust during its approach to the Sun does not move the comet much off course. It has spewed dust for at least 5,000 years and most likely thirty times longer. It has built a massive meteoroid stream, most of which is located just outside of Earth's orbit. Earth passes through the outer regions of that stream in July, and hits the center on August 12.
This giant possible annihilator object rains down upon us bits and pieces of its great bulk. If it were to hit us, we will all be gone, all of us. And pretty much all others, too.

While humans evolved, their brains grew. And when they were ejected from the Garden of Eden, the great swath of jungles that girded Africa, once we walked on the hot plains, along the vast sea shores, we looked up in wonder at the cloudless skies, the dark starry nights and we wondered. And during this time, a great comet flew past. The fear of God was born.

Some of the earlier myths and stories revolve around this cosmic wonder. When we look into the path of the falling stars, they seem to radiate out of one spot and this is where they get their names. The Perseid showers come from the great grouping of stars that make up the Pegasus sector. All these diverse constellations are from the same story, according to Greek mythology.

Perseus was sent to slay Medusa, one of three sisters who were cursed into becoming monsters. When he whacked off her head, out of her torso, with the flow of red blood, sprang Pegasus, the Iku, the Square of Paradise between the two Rivers, Pisces. Pegasus is really a very old god, older than Perseus. He was called Zug in ancient Ur. Half snake, half flying horse. The Greeks chopped off his lovely long snake tail and gave it to Medusa. This is why we see Zug as a half horse today. Astronomers in classical Greece then gave Medusa's tail to Andromeda. She even got one of the stars of the Great Square.

Because of these showers and the fact that the largest star in the Perseus constellation is a variable red star, this star ended up being called the Evil Eye and is Medusa's head. Falling stars were catastrophes which is Greek for falling stars. Actually, they are right, you know.

Falling stars do fall on us. With devastating power.
AFP/NASA-HO/File Photo: This November 2000 NASA file image shows a meteor streaking across the sky during the...

Here is an example of a particularily large piece burning up in our stratosphere. Which, by the way, is getting thinner, thanks to our manic consumption of various chemical/fossil fuel combinations.

From Seattle Times:
The incidence of two forms of nonmelanoma skin cancer has more than doubled among people younger than 40, particularly women, an increase scientists attribute to tanning's continued allure and Earth's depleting ozone layer.
Heck, this is killing the amphibian world, big time.

The midnight sky flashed an eerie blue early Thursday over four Midwestern states as a meteorite exploded in the atmosphere, sending rocks as big as softballs crashing through some houses.

Residents in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin reported seeing the disintegrating meteorite flash across the sky about midnight. Police were soon deluged with reports of falling rocks striking homes and cars.
One guy had it hit his office and it destroyed his printer but missed the computer.

From the Durango Herald:
NASA continues to use Meteor Crater as a proving ground, even to test spacesuits for the human exploration of Mars.

Scientists guess that a meteor only 150 feet wide excavated the massive cavity, meaning that it had to be traveling at over 30,000 mph before impact. The explosive force of the collision was greater than 20 million tons of TNT.

The little bit of meteor that did not vaporize on impact either broke off as it plummeted through the atmosphere or was ejected miles away by the force of the impact.
150 feet in size left a sizeable crater, didn't it? Compare that with 31 kilometers! This is a small rock compared to the Mother Rock, isn't it?

The Arizona Planetary lab's meteor damage calculator says the other side of the planet barely noticed the meteor that hit Arizona. But let's put in the numbers for the Perseid meteor!

According to the data, if this ever hits us, it will be the biggest hit since the creation of the earth. Kind of scary, no?

All this stuff comes from outer space which isn't empty but rather, thanks to the mighty black hole grinding away in the center of our galaxy, a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up matter, we see the shattered remains of even older stars, older worlds, showering down upon us.

This is why we figured out how to pray to the Gods. For they do live in the Heavens. And are both beautiful and very dangerous. They created us and will eventually destroy us.

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