Friday, January 14, 2011


Look to the skies! This sort of show happens most every night, and you can see it if you are patient. Likely, it will not be as grand on demand as the attached photo, but the heavens are alive with sparks and fire. Happily, we get to enjoy sitting on a presently quiet cinder in the vastness. Thus, if you've got an adequate camera and a tripod, or even a rail on your porch to perch the gadget, you can make a picture like the one below. If not, you can simply look up and wait. The Universe is very patient. It waited for you.

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower is an annual event for planet Earth's northern hemisphere skygazers. It usually peaks briefly in the cold, early morning hours of January 4. The shower is named for its radiant point on the sky within the old, astronomically obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis. That position is situated near the boundaries of the modern constellations Hercules, Bootes, and Draco. In this haunting time exposure, two quadrantid meteor streaks are captured crossing trails left by rising stars of the constellations Virgo and Corvus, but Saturn leaves the brightest "star" trail.

The meteor streaks, one bright and one faint, are nearly parallel above and right of center in the frame. Fittingly, the old cistern structure in the foreground lies above the now buried city of Qumis. Known as a city of many gates, Qumis (in Greek history Hecatompylos), was founded 2300 years ago in ancient Persia.