Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is this behaviour insane?

How many times do you have to repeat the same behaviour, each time expecting a different outcome and yet each time the same thing happens. How often before you realise its not ‘sticktoitness’ but insanity?

Supporters of sports teams are constantly doing this with their promise of ‘next year we’re going to win it all’. Gamblers looking for the next sure thing, or even serial marriers, “no this time its true love, as they marry their fourth wife”.

Well include me in this pattern of insanity too.

Each year around mid November I set my alarm, go out in the middle of the night in either a field, or any nearby open space where there are few or better no lights and look up towards the Northeast end of the sky around the sickle of Leo which is a curved asterism that marks the head of the Great Lion.

And for the past eight years I have only seen either: Clouds, dusts, a faint glow of light pollution, one year I even managed to get hailed on. How can the sky be obscured –Melbourne’s in the middle of a fraking HEAT WAVE, its not like the clouds are rolling in. So this is what I have seen, but no meteor shower of around 100 to 500 meteors per hour.

So why do I keep getting up and doing this, is it some form of obsessive compulsive behaviour previously undiagnosed?

Because in 2001 I got up to see the Leonids Meteor Shower (called this because it seems to originate from the constellation of Leo) and it was SPECTACULAR. Reports put the rate at 3000 meteors per hour.

This was not just a meteor shower.

Whenever the number of meteors exceeds 1000 per hour its called a meteor STORM. And as incredible that was it can be even better. In November 13, 1833 number of meteors exceeded 1000 per minute. Now the one I saw in 2001 wasn’t as much as that but still better than any fireworks display and amazing example of the terrifying beauty of the infinite cosmos I have never seen.

That’s why I get up.

That’s why I will keep getting up.

Because I want to be standing in a field in the middle of the night with the_weapon standing beside me and I want him to look up and see the wonder.


  1. Mate I'm a South Sydney supporter, it's well beyond persistence into delusionality for us.

    Supposedly the best place to see the most recent meteor shower was Mongolia. On Tuesday. Let me just get my time travelling Lear Jet...

  2. Dr Yobbo, but next year the rabbitohs are going to WIN.

  3. Aw, Barnes, what a lovely post!

    My boyfriend loves to stare at stars, planets and other heavenly bodies too. (Oo-er). Often I think he's hoping to see a little blue box spinning through the sky. ;)

    It reminds me I should get out of the city a bit more and look up a bit!

    Having looked up at the stars in Mongolia - I can certainly imagine a meteor storm there would be amazing!

  4. GirlClumsy
    Thanks for the reply I am very envious of your experience of seeing the Stars in the Mongolian night sky.
    If you do spot any blue police boxes please call.

  5. Yes, I am so with you on this. (I too look to the nighttime sky for a flying blue box.)

    It's great that you take your son with you on these excursions.

    Off topic: Have you read 'Patient Zero' by John Maberry. It came out last March, and is undoubtedly the best zombie novel of the year. A police detective gets drafted into a ultra-secretive Federal task force, and puts down zombie plague outbreaks promoted by Al-Qaeda and their pharmaceutical supporters. The protagonist is a Bruce Willis/Jack Bauer character, who is a wise-cracking bad-ass. It's a fun read - military techo-thriller and zombie story - all in one!

  6. I am not that big on astronomy, but I noticed that Footpath Astronomy has started again in Abbotsford. Being next door to the Retreat Hotel might be enough to spark an interest.

  7. Why do I only ever hear about these things after they happen?

  8. Boscolamb
    Oh indeed Patient Zero rocked, am haning out for the second book in the series due out in 2010 'The Dragon Factory'.

    Given the size of stellar objects I'd be suprised if you were big in Astronomy.

    Sorry didn't have your number, didn't you get the newsletter? However mark you calendar now its annual mid November. Watch the skies.

  9. We've had overcast skies, so I'm glad I didn't lose sleep over the non-event, as you report it. Next year's the year....

    I have a childhood memory of my parents dragging me from my warm bed one freezing night to see a rare Pennsylvania appearance of the Aurora borealis...and one year Santa brought me a telescope :-)

  10. Intelliwench
    and your love of astronomy has continued ever since - right.