The Cosmic Highway

May 28 – Non Human Character


“Round and round and round we go, where we’ll stop, nobody knows.” The Stand-up Comet speaker sent out the message. It was the prepatory cue. Everyone had to line up, or, get orderly, or something. The Cloud would know if things weren’t orderly.

“Hey, short stuff, this is your first time. You ready?”

“Uh huh! Rearing to go.”

“Do you know which Shower you’re are a member of?”

“Um, Not sure.”

“Okay, stand-by. Will get that 411 for you.”

Short stuff wiggle-waggled to show understanding.

The Cloud knew that it might have seemed like a chaotic place to anyone who wasn’t an official member. Members had to be all of kind. Those unruly passers-by really caused some rather uncharacteristic shows, true enough. But the Cloud’s annual offering was wholly co-ordinated, contrary to what the miniscules thought.

Here in the Cloud, shows were tightly scheduled events. None of the apathtic, ‘when-I-get-around-to-it’ kinds of affairs, which left too much room for accidents. Though some were fairly consistent. More and more new faces were showing up, and that just tended to confuse the new Shower Members.

“Listen up. Here are the dates for each of your appearances. If you know your Shower Group, head for your sector. Those new to our Cloud locale, gather here for last minute assignments.”

“We all know these official, annual shows have been on the bill for quite a long time. But understand this, your individual participation is applauded by the spectators.

The specifics for each spectacle is posted, with the particulars of each showers.”
Active from January 1st to 10th 2015
Peaking January 3 – 4

All Quadrantids Members, you have the potential to be the strongest shower of the year, but don’t feel bad if you fall short. It’s due simply to the short length of maximum activity (6 hours) and the poor weather experienced during early January on the Orb. The average hourly rates one can expect under dark skies is 25. While members usually lack persistent trains, you often produce bright fireballs. Due to the high northerly declination (celestial latitude) it is likely you will not be well seen from the southern hemisphere.

Active from April 16th to 25th 2015
peaking Apr 22-23

All Lyrids Members, you will produce medium strength shower that usually produces good rates for three nights centered on the maximum. Don’t worry about lack of persistent trains, because, say it with me, you can produce fireballs. You will be best seen from the northern hemisphere where the radiant is high in the sky at dawn. Activity from this shower can be seen from the southern hemisphere, but at a lower rate.

Eta Aquariids
Active from April 19th to May 26th 2015
Peak May 6-7

All Eta Aquariids, you are a strong shower when viewed from the southern tropics. From the equator northward, and you will produce medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn. Activity is good for a week centered the night of maximum activity. You are swift that produce a high percentage of persistent trains, but few fireballs. You are a strong shower when viewed from the southern tropics. From the equator northward, you will only produce medium rates of 10-30 per hour just before dawn. Activity is good for a week centered the night of maximum activity. You are swift and produce a high percentage of persistent trains, but few fireballs. From the equator to 25S you can produce rates of 40-60 per hour just before dawn at maximum. The longer nights in the southern hemisphere allows the radiant to rise higher in the sky. South of 25S the radiant altitude actually decreases. Activity is good for a week centered the night of maximum activity.

Delta Aquariids
Active from July 21st to August 23rd 2015
Peak Jul 28-29

All Delta Aquariids, you another strong shower best seen from the southern tropics. North of the equator the radiant is located lower in the southern sky and therefore rates are less than seen from further south. You will produce good rates for a week centered on the night of maximum. You will usually appear faint and lack both persistent trains and fireballs.

Alpha Capricornids
Active from July 11th to August 10th 2015
Peak Peak Jul 27-28

All Alpha Capricornids, you are active from July 11 through August with a “plateau-like” maximum centered on July 29. You won’t be very strong and rarely produce in excess of five shower members per hour. Notable, however, are the number of bright fireballs produced during your activity period. You will be seen equally well on either side of the equator.

Active from July 13th to August 26th 2015
Peak Aug 12-13

All Perseids, you know why you are the most popular. Because you peak on warm August nights as seen from the northern hemisphere. You are active from July 13 to August 26. You reach a strong maximum on August 12 or 13, depending on the year. Normal rates seen from rural locations range from 50-75 shower members per hour at maximum. Remember, you are particles released from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle during your numerous returns to the inner solar system. You know you are called Perseids since the radiant  seem to originate the prominent constellation of Perseus the hero when at maximum activity.

Active from October 4th to November 14th 2015
Peak Oct 21-22

All Orionids you are a medium strength shower that sometimes reaches high strength activity. In, a normal year you produce 20-25 shower members at maximum. In exceptional years, such as 2006-2009, the peak rates were on par with the Perseids (50-75 per hour). Unfortunately, we are unable to predict exactly when you will be exception.

Southern Taurids
Active from September 7th to November 19th 2015
Peak Oct 23-24

All Southern Taurids, you are a long-lasting shower that reaches a barely noticeable maximum on October 9 or 10. While you are active for more than two months, you rarely produce more than five shower members per hour, even at maximum activity. All Taurids (both branches) you are rich in fireballs and are often responsible for increased number of fireball reports from September through November.

Northern Taurids
Active from October 19th to December 10th 2015
Peak Nov 11-12

All NT members,  you are like your sister shower, Southern Taurids, though active a it later in the year. However, when you are active simultaneously in late October and early November, there is a notable increase in the fireball activity. Yes, you have a seven year periodicity with these fireballs. 2008 was the last remarkable year. Perhaps this year, 2015, will be the next?

Active from November 5th to 30th 2015
Peak Nov 17 – 18

All Leonids, you are best known for producing great storms in the years of 1833, 1866, 1966, and 2001. These outbursts of activity are best seen when your parent comet, 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, is near perihelion (closest approach to the sun). It is not new members seen from the your parent, but rather debris from earlier returns that also happen to be most dense at the same time. As you know, it appears that the orb will not encounter any dense clouds of debris until 2099. Therefore when your parentual unit returns in 2031 and 2064, there will be no meteor storms, but perhaps several good displays of activity with rates in excess of 100 per hour. The best we can hope for now until the year 2030 with peaks of around 15 shower members per hour and perhaps an occasional weak outburst when the earth passes near a debris trail. You, Leonids members, are often bright with a high percentage of persistent trains.

Active from December 17th to 23rd 2015
Peak Dec 21-22

All Ursids, you are often neglected due to the fact you peak just before Christmas and the rates are much less than the Geminds, which peaks just a week before you.  Observers will normally see 5-10 of you per hour during the late morning hours on the date of maximum activity. You have produced occasional outbursts when rates have exceeded 25 per hour. These outbursts appear unrelated to the perihelion dates of your Parental Unit 8P/Tuttle. You are strictly a northern hemisphere event as the radiant fails to clear the horizon or does so simultaneously with the start of morning twilight as seen from the southern tropics.”

“Short stuff, you’re with the Orionids Shower Members.”

When every member had joined their group, and the Cloud was quiet, the final announcement was made.

“Start your engines,  good luck, and be careful out there”