Around 5 p.m. on Sunday something knocked
Something fiery crossed the sky on Sunday, but everything returned to normal after I sacrificed a goat. Please.
Since most of the people were inside at the time, more Islanders smelled or heard the celestial object than they saw it. If it registered, it was like a faint, sustained, distant thunderclap that chased some of us from our sofas and under our beds around 5 p.m.
We asked ourselves: was it an earthquake? Woodstock Brown Acid, which is coming back once again? Santa Claus ignites during a test? Some have speculated that it was the Rumbles, the mysterious phenomenon most often linked to American fighter jets from Whidbey Island, which sometimes shakes the teacups and nerves of Victorians.
No, it seems the celestial light show was associated with the Geminid meteor shower. It has been seen from as far away as northern Oregon, although most of the 13 witnesses who reported it to an American Meteor Society website were clustered in the center and south of the island. : Courtenay, Nanaimo, Duncan, Mill Bay, Shawnigan, North Saanich, Victoria.
Some reported hearing a boom, followed by a slight tremor. Some just saw a trail in the sky and heard no accompanying sound.
How spectacular was that? Deb Haun was at her home in Bear Mountain when her social media feed lit up (so to speak) with people talking about the fireball.
So she checked her security cameras, which didn’t show the meteor itself, but captured the way it was illuminating nearby evergreens. “It was perfect timing, with the snow on the trees,” she said on Monday. Imagine how bright the space invader had to be to cast that kind of light.
It might have to do with its makeup. Karun Thanjavur, an instructor in UVic’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, said the Geminids differ from the better-known Perseids in that they are associated with an asteroid, a rocky body, as opposed to a comet, which is mostly ice and dust.
A fist-sized space rock plunging into the atmosphere at a few thousand kilometers per hour will emit an incredible amount of light. âIt is burning with so much intensity,â Thanjavur said. The meteor will also take some time to burn; Sunday’s fireball was visible for several seconds.
If you want a chance to see something similar, you might be lucky on Monday and Tuesday night. The meteor shower started on November 19 and continues until Christmas Eve, but the Meteor Society website listed December 13 and 14 as the peak of sighting.
How do they know this? Science, developed by real scientists, people who went to the same school as you but didn’t waste their time carving a bong out of a potato when they should have read physics texts.
I am grateful to those people, the scientists and technologists who understand what makes the world go round, because they make up for my ignorance. For example, I don’t know how my computer works. I also don’t understand my cell phone, stem cell therapy, or, other than at a very rudimentary level, electricity, the internal combustion engine, or glass making.
Likewise, I’m baffled by theft, chemical identification and extraction, and anything that begins with “micro” or “neuro”. I don’t know how a leaf blower works, and I wish no one knew. Mention sine and cosine and I’m thinking of bank loans, not trigonometry.
Anyway, I’m an idiot. That’s okay, because I’m a functional jerk. I can fly on an airplane, use a glow stick, or log into hockeyfights.com without needing to know how the magic works. If ignorance is bliss, then I am ecstatic.
People like me are generally grateful to scientists, those who we imagine must be pitching like drunks, banging their puffed noggins against the walls because their giant brains make them so heavy.
This is true even though we ignore their identity as well as we ignore their areas of knowledge. Exhibit A: Astronomers like Robert Methven Petrie (who has a crater on the moon named after him) and Andrew McKellar (who found the first evidence of residual radiation from the Big Bang), whose names are greeted with respect in circles academics and empty looks in the streets of Victoria, the city where they worked.
There is even a planet named after JS Plaskett, famous for his achievements at the Federal Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich, but have you heard of him?
Sadly, nowadays, some people trust their own Google U doctorates more than more traditional credentials. After two good weeks on the Internet, they feel more qualified than those who have spent their entire career in a lab coat.
âI did my research,â they will say, âand came to the conclusion that the fireball was a warning shot from a Kardashian death star. Let’s all salute our new Kardashian overlords. Let’s toast them with some medicine for the cattle.