"The 2012 Quadrantids, a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation, will present an excellent chance for hardy souls to start the year off with some late-night meteor watching."
Considering it was 20 degrees this morning and weather.com predicts 9 degrees tonight, consider me one of the "hardy souls". I was merely drinking coffee and checking the daily news and weather, after a night of interrupted sleep and an early morning phone call. I feel myself slipping into hibernation mode, yet my grouchy mood immediately changed when reading of the meteor shower. It's been a life-long hunger and fascination for this easy-to-please-stargazer. Something to thank my father for, that and having to memorize the names of the constellations, or perhaps I have the Girl Scouts to thank for that. Like riding a bike, you don't forget. But my bike riding days are gone, yet the constellations and the stars still mesmerize me, on the simplest level. Maybe it was the one time I didn't have to argue art against math with my father; we shared the silence of the distance and light.
The moonset at approximately 3am CST in the northern hemisphere will allow a two hour dark window to glimpse between 60 to 200 meteors per hour. The name is a derivation of Quadrans Muralis, a constellation that is sadly no longer recognized by astronomers, according to NASA.
Consider this a personal public service announcement, few facts here, not my intent. Just thought I'd share some good news in case anyone else likes meteor showers or has trouble sleeping. If this seems tinged with sadness, you read it as I felt it. I still miss my father at Christmas, seven years after his death and while meteor showers may be just another celestial event, the article as written by NASA came across as mournful. The life and death of a constellation. I probably read too many obituaries and walk through too many graveyards, always pondering the details, the tiny details that have been lost, misplaced, or thrown away.
"After hundreds of years orbiting the sun, they will enter our atmosphere at 90,000 mph, burning up 50 miles above Earth's surface -- a fiery end to a long journey!"