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This weekend brings the Lyrid meteor shower into view. From late evening on Friday (April 20) until dawn Saturday, and even better viewing April 21 until the probable peak at dawn Sunday. You can try Sunday night (April 22) until dawn Monday too if the previous nights were cloudy, but the chances are less of seeing many.

The radiant point where the meteors appear to be coming from is near the star Vega which is in constellation Lyra. That will be at its highest in the sky in those early morning hours and you’re more likely to see multiple meteors. We say it appears to come from Vega, but Vega is actually trillions of times farther away from those meteors. Vega is 25 light-years away. Those numbers always make me feel smaller – and more amazed at the universe.   Here is some help on finding Vega

The Lyrid meteors are the debris of a comet orbiting the sun that is burning up in the atmosphere about 60 miles (100 km) up.

Unfortunately, I will be in a big city this weekend, so viewing will be not very good due to the artifical light. But for most people, the waxing moon will have set by late night, leaving the predawn hours dark. And before dawn, you can see the three planets, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

 

Note for Southern Hemisphere observers via earthsky.org: Because this shower’s radiant point is so far north on the sky’s dome, the star Vega rises only in the hours before dawn. It’ll be lower in the sky for you than for us farther north on Earth’s globe, when dawn breaks. That’s why you’ll see fewer Lyrid meteors. Still, you might see some! Try watching before morning dawn on April 21, 22 and 23.

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The sundial and clock agree four times a year, on or near April 15, June 15, September 1 and December 25. I haven’t found any special names for these dates. No equinox or solstice label to mark these days.

That surprises me because I imagine that ancient people who were so observant of the Sun and Moon that they built temples to their movements would have noted these days. If you were a priest or in the upper class, you could have a large or small temple or altar that marked the astronomical events in an earthly way. But for the average person, I am imagining that a simple sundial was your most likely way to mark the time and follow the Sun.

At this time of the year, when the midday sun is highest, your sundial should say it is noon and your clock should say 12 pm.

I have always had a sundial in the garden. My mother had one in the garden when I was a kid and I have one now. It probably is one of the reasons that I still am tuned in to the Sun and Moon.

As a kid, it annoyed me that the sundial was always wrong. It was “wrong” because when it said it was 1 pm, I knew it was 2 pm because I had a watch. And I have always adjusted my sundial so that it was close to clock time.

I don’t know exactly when I discovered the why of the Sun’s path that explained the sundial but I was certainly an adult.

I am tempted to install a more permanent sundial in the garden, one that is wrong most of the year, as a reminder to me that the Earth is changing its relationship to the Sun.

A sundial can be as simple as sa stick in the ground that casts a shadow. That shadow from the style falls onto a surface marked with lines indicating the hours of the day. The style is the time-telling edge of the gnomon, the straight edge. As the sun moves across the sky, the shadow-edge aligns with hour-lines. Sundials need to have that edge parallel to the axis of the Earth’s rotation to tell the correct time throughout the year.

Long ago, people thought the Sun was moving across the seasons. Most people today (not all, I have discovered) know it is the Earth tilting and moving that cause the sundial to change.

You should pay attention to all the cycles in your life. Some are natural and some we create ourselves. They affect us, whether we pass attention to them or not.

Maybe you should get yourself a sundial and tune in to the Earth and Sun.


We finally got a true spring day today and I sat with my cup of tea outside and it felt great to have the Sun shining on me. Would you be surprised to learn that solar storms can affect your emotional health and consciousness?

Many people feel that the Moon affects them, but a lot of research has pretty much shown that madness during Full Moons, increased suicide rates and other effects are more myth than fact. Still, I have read some of the same claims and research into the Sun’s effect on us.

But there are scientific studies that confirm links between solar activity and our bodies and minds.

When I was working and teaching full-time at New Jersey Institute of Technology, I learned some things about solar flares because the university has the Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research for ground- and space-based solar and terrestrial physics. They particularly have an interest in understanding the effects of the Sun on the geospace environment. That Center operates the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) and Owens Valley Solar Array (OVSA) in California.

A solar storm or eruption is a massive explosion in the Sun’s atmosphere. It releases a tremendous amount of energy and affects all layers of the solar atmosphere. The numbers are incomprehensible to most of us. Plasma heating to tens of millions of Celsius degrees and accelerating electrons, protons shooting at close to the speed of light are not concepts we can really understand.

Animals and humans have a magnetic field that surrounds them. Earth’s magnetic field protects the planet. Geomagnetic activity seems to have three seasonal peaks and these periods are said to correspond to a higher incidence of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and other emotional disorders.

The more obvious effects to point at are how electromagnetic activity of the sun affects our electronic devices. Their effects on the human electromagnetic field and the idea that our body can experience various emotions and changes is a newer theory and more controversial.

Here are some of the physiological effects of coronal mass ejections (CMEs)(which are quite brief) are said to have on us: headaches, palpitations, mood swings, fatigue and general malaise. The pineal gland in our brain is also influenced by the electromagnetic activity, which causes a production of excess melatonin, a hormone that can cause drowsiness.

Might CMEs cause physical sensations because of distortions of energy flow inside the body? Hot and cold sensations, sensations of “electricity” and extreme environmental sensitivity have all been “reported” by people.

But our bodies are said to also have an emotional response to these hidden waves of energy. Some of the claims I have read seem rather extreme, pointing to increases in addiction, health problems, depression, unhealthy relationships, repressed emotions and desires.

I have read a number of articles the past week from “Scientific Evidence that Geomagnetic Storms Are Making You Sick“(much of that research coming from Russia) to more New Age pieces that see solar storms as changing human consciousness.

At this point, I would say these connections are somewhere between science and belief, but are interesting enough to continue researching. Will they cause a shift in our consciousness? The Sun has been shining on Earth a long time and I haven’t seen it happen yet.

I haven’t found a good guide to when to expect these solar storms, but I did find lots of suggestions for how to cope with their effects on us, including: ​salt baths, magnesium supplements, ​drink a lot of pure water, ​meditate more or do stillness, relaxation & breathing exercise, ​gentle exercise, and staying away from negative people. I would recommend all but the first two in that list anyway!

More

https://theawakenedstate.net/solar-flares-and-the-consciousness-connection/

 

moon

There was no Full Moon last month, so did you miss seeing a big Moon in the sky?

Someone asked me how the ancients or Native Americans must have reacted to no Full Moon. They didn’t react at all. The distance between Full Moons is always about the same. We only notice because we are locked into our calendars which are a fairly modern way of viewing time.

Look at some of the names for the March Full Moon. It can be the Fish Moon since frozen waters are melting and fish are more active. It is called the Windy Moon also the Moon of Winds and March is often a windy month. Even Winnie the Pooh would tell you it is a month of blustery days.  I’ve written about the Worm Moon before. And a name with religious connections is the Lenten Moon.

Hopefully, this is not a Big Famine Moon for you. But if your tribe is running low on winter food stocks and it is too early to plant or harvest new crops, that name applies. It is certainly true for many animals. The suburban deer in my neighborhood are pretty desperate for anything green to eat and are grabbing even the tiny shoots of bushes and bulbs that popping up early due to a few early spring days.

March is a month that can look like winter – bare and snow-covered – or like spring – warm with fresh green growth.

Tonight’s Full Moon also coincides with the start of Passover and the eve of Easter.

Tonight is another Blue Moon – that label hung on the second of two full moons in a single calendar month. There is an older definition that defines a Blue Moon as the third of four full moons in a single season. There was a Blue Moon on January 31, 2018 that was also a supermoon with a total eclipse. You don’t get that trifecta too often.

A seasonal Blue Moon (third of four full moons in one season) can occur in the same calendar year, but that would mean there are 13 full moons in one calendar year and 13 full moons in between successive December solstices.

The rarity we associate with the phrase “once in a blue moon” doesn’t seem so rare in recent years. I have posted about blue moons fairly regularly. But two Blue Moons in a single calendar year last happened in 1999. If you’re still around in 2037, February will have no full moon, and the months of January and March will each feature two full moons.

And though the Moon will not be any more “blue” tonight than on other nights, moonlight does tend to look blue in color – especially when you photograph it – so you might get some atmospheric or photographic blue with your moonlight tonight.

When I stumbled half-asleep into my bathroom this morning a little past 7 a.m., the Sun was just rising over the mountain ridge due East. It didn’t signal the Spring (Vernal) Equinox for 2018, but I did sleepily think about people gathered at Stonehenge to mark an ancient ceremony.

I still have time to celebrate that equinox moment because for the Northern Hemisphere it occurs at 12:15 PM ET today. It is not like an eclipse. There is nothing to see or feel. And my Paradelle neighbors are sure to point out that there is still a lot of snow on the ground and more predicted for this first day of spring.

The vernal equinox can happen on March 19, 20, or 21. It means spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. This astronomical spring begins today and will end in June. The illumination of Earth by the Sun is equal. The tilt of the Earth’s axis is now inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun. More equality. The Sun is vertically above a point on the Equator.

Our ancient ancestors knew something was happening today. Eventually, they built devices and even places like Stonehenge to measure and mark changes in the Sun’s movements.

Many of them thought the Sun was moving closer to Earth, and so the Earth would become warmer. At least that is what those in the Northern Hemisphere observed.

They were wrong,but they were correct in marking that today was midway between the sun’s lowest path across the sky in winter and highest path across the sky in summer.

My own Stonehenge – and the way I taught my young sons –  is using the windows of my home. I now know where the Sun rises in the back of my home, and where it sets in the western windows. With my sons, we one year marked those places month by month and watched the Sun move North and then South in winter from one window in the corner of the family room to the patio doors.

Today the Sun rose in the true East, and this evening it will set true West.  Take note.

Keep an eye on the live video from on board and let us know if you spot any aliens.

That Tesla roadster out in space will, like an asteroid, make its first close pass of Earth in 2091. I don’t think I’ll be around for that event, so I’ll post now.

After that pass by Earth, scientists say it has a 50 percent chance of continuing to orbit for a few tens of millions of years. Eventually, it will collide with a planet or fall into the Sun. If it makes it back to Earth, the atmosphere will burn up most of it before it hits the ground.

For now, it is safely on its way out past Mars, playing David Bowie to deaf, airless ears. It also carries on its dashboard screen the always appropriate message to Earthlings and anyone else who might encounter it: Don’t panic.

 

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