Difference between revisions of "1249: Meteor Showers"

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(+link to w:Zeta_Perseids)
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*({{w|Quadrantids|real}}) Quadrantids - January 4<sup>th</sup> - Bring pets inside during peak activity
 
*({{w|Quadrantids|real}}) Quadrantids - January 4<sup>th</sup> - Bring pets inside during peak activity
 +
:While keeping pets inside may be reasonable in a snowstorm or hurricane, no regular meteor shower poses much danger to pets.
 
*(made-up) Tricuspids - January 21<sup>st</sup> - Not viewable in region 2 countries
 
*(made-up) Tricuspids - January 21<sup>st</sup> - Not viewable in region 2 countries
 
:Apparently a play on the {{w|tricuspid valve}} in mammalian hearts, or possibly on bicuspid teeth. The mention of "Region 2" is a reference to {{w|region locking}}, a digital rights management (DRM) scheme intended to restrict media to certain areas.  DRM of course does not apply to natural events.  But ironically, meteor showers are also geographically restricted, and the visible area might roughly coincide with a DRM region. Further irony is that "Region 2" is actually Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories, meaning that it's not strictly geographical.
 
:Apparently a play on the {{w|tricuspid valve}} in mammalian hearts, or possibly on bicuspid teeth. The mention of "Region 2" is a reference to {{w|region locking}}, a digital rights management (DRM) scheme intended to restrict media to certain areas.  DRM of course does not apply to natural events.  But ironically, meteor showers are also geographically restricted, and the visible area might roughly coincide with a DRM region. Further irony is that "Region 2" is actually Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories, meaning that it's not strictly geographical.
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:Since most houses have opaque roofs, it would take a ''very'' bright meteor to be visible without going outside.
 
:Since most houses have opaque roofs, it would take a ''very'' bright meteor to be visible without going outside.
 
*(made-up) Beta Aquariids - February 10<sup>th</sup> - Inverted shower converges toward Aquarius instead of radiating away
 
*(made-up) Beta Aquariids - February 10<sup>th</sup> - Inverted shower converges toward Aquarius instead of radiating away
 +
:Due to the geometry of gravity and perspective, meteor showers appear to radiate outwards from a certain point in the sky. Meteor showers may be seen to converge on a point on the opposite side of the sky, but so few meteoroids enter the atmosphere there that it would hardly be notable.
 
*(made-up) Chelyabids - February 15<sup>th</sup> - Only one meteor per shower, but it's big.
 
*(made-up) Chelyabids - February 15<sup>th</sup> - Only one meteor per shower, but it's big.
 
:A reference to the February 15, 2013, {{w|Chelyabinsk meteor}} whose explosion shattered windows within a large radius.
 
:A reference to the February 15, 2013, {{w|Chelyabinsk meteor}} whose explosion shattered windows within a large radius.
 
*({{w|Lyrids|real}}) Lyrids - April 22<sup>nd</sup> - Meteors sometimes scream
 
*({{w|Lyrids|real}}) Lyrids - April 22<sup>nd</sup> - Meteors sometimes scream
 
*({{w|Zeta Perseids|real}}) Daytime Zeta Perseids - June 9<sup>th</sup> - Likely a NASA hoax
 
*({{w|Zeta Perseids|real}}) Daytime Zeta Perseids - June 9<sup>th</sup> - Likely a NASA hoax
 +
:This shower is likely too faint or infrequent for most people to see, and therefore of disputed existence by the overly skeptical.
 
*({{w|June Bootids|real}}) June Boötids - June 27<sup>th</sup> - 50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars
 
*({{w|June Bootids|real}}) June Boötids - June 27<sup>th</sup> - 50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars
 
:The "50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars" is a joke, as "meteor" and "shooting star" are synonymous.
 
:The "50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars" is a joke, as "meteor" and "shooting star" are synonymous.
 
*({{w|Southern Delta Aquariids|real}}) Southern Delta Aquariids - July 19<sup>th</sup> - Meteors very bright, but stationary
 
*({{w|Southern Delta Aquariids|real}}) Southern Delta Aquariids - July 19<sup>th</sup> - Meteors very bright, but stationary
 +
:This is saying that they are indistinguishable from stars, or that the stars themselves are actually meteors.
 
*(made-up) Dromaeosaurids - July 22<sup>th</sup> - Fast, highly intelligent, can open doors
 
*(made-up) Dromaeosaurids - July 22<sup>th</sup> - Fast, highly intelligent, can open doors
 
:Dromaeosaurids are dinosaurs belonging to {{w|Dromaeosauridae}}, the family containing the genus ''Velociraptor'', well-known from the movie Jurassic Park, and a [[:Category:Velociraptors|popular xkcd-theme]]. When the comic was originally published, the date listed for this shower was June 12<sup>th</sup>. The main events of Jurassic Park take place on June 11<sup>th</sup> and 12<sup>th</sup>.
 
:Dromaeosaurids are dinosaurs belonging to {{w|Dromaeosauridae}}, the family containing the genus ''Velociraptor'', well-known from the movie Jurassic Park, and a [[:Category:Velociraptors|popular xkcd-theme]]. When the comic was originally published, the date listed for this shower was June 12<sup>th</sup>. The main events of Jurassic Park take place on June 11<sup>th</sup> and 12<sup>th</sup>.
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*({{w|Geminids|real}}) Geminids - December 13<sup>th</sup> - Can be deflected with tennis rackets
 
*({{w|Geminids|real}}) Geminids - December 13<sup>th</sup> - Can be deflected with tennis rackets
  
The title text refers to the folk wisdom that ''lightning'' strikes the tallest thing around. [[Randall]] expressed frustration over how "maddeningly inexact" that statement is, and elaborated on the problem mathematically, on his [[what if?]]-blog, in the [http://what-if.xkcd.com/16/ post on lightning].
+
The title text refers to the folk wisdom that ''lightning'' strikes the tallest thing around. [[Randall]] expressed frustration over how "maddeningly inexact" that statement is, and elaborated on the problem mathematically, on his ''[[what if?]]'' blog, in the [http://what-if.xkcd.com/16/ post on lightning].
  
  

Revision as of 18:54, 9 August 2013

Meteor Showers
Remember, meteors always hit the tallest object around.
Title text: Remember, meteors always hit the tallest object around.

This comic spoofs the way that astronomical events are often reported in the mass media — events are often tagged with undeserved superlatives or described as being more dramatic than they actually are. In some cases, outright misinformation is spread. This phenomenon occurs in part the result of over-eager scientists, and in part because of journalists misunderstanding the subject.

Meteor showers, for example, typically occur regularly each year. Sometimes meteor showers are in fact likely to be relatively spectacular - for example when the peak of the shower occurs when your part of the world is in darkness and there is little moonlight. However, even in these cases it must be understood that there is nothing unusual about the meteor shower itself.

Most of the meteor showers listed in the comic are real, but some are made up (see below).

  • (real) Quadrantids - January 4th - Bring pets inside during peak activity
While keeping pets inside may be reasonable in a snowstorm or hurricane, no regular meteor shower poses much danger to pets.
  • (made-up) Tricuspids - January 21st - Not viewable in region 2 countries
Apparently a play on the tricuspid valve in mammalian hearts, or possibly on bicuspid teeth. The mention of "Region 2" is a reference to region locking, a digital rights management (DRM) scheme intended to restrict media to certain areas. DRM of course does not apply to natural events. But ironically, meteor showers are also geographically restricted, and the visible area might roughly coincide with a DRM region. Further irony is that "Region 2" is actually Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories, meaning that it's not strictly geographical.
  • (real) Centaurids - February 6th - Too faint to see without going outside
Since most houses have opaque roofs, it would take a very bright meteor to be visible without going outside.
  • (made-up) Beta Aquariids - February 10th - Inverted shower converges toward Aquarius instead of radiating away
Due to the geometry of gravity and perspective, meteor showers appear to radiate outwards from a certain point in the sky. Meteor showers may be seen to converge on a point on the opposite side of the sky, but so few meteoroids enter the atmosphere there that it would hardly be notable.
  • (made-up) Chelyabids - February 15th - Only one meteor per shower, but it's big.
A reference to the February 15, 2013, Chelyabinsk meteor whose explosion shattered windows within a large radius.
  • (real) Lyrids - April 22nd - Meteors sometimes scream
  • (real) Daytime Zeta Perseids - June 9th - Likely a NASA hoax
This shower is likely too faint or infrequent for most people to see, and therefore of disputed existence by the overly skeptical.
  • (real) June Boötids - June 27th - 50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars
The "50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars" is a joke, as "meteor" and "shooting star" are synonymous.
  • (real) Southern Delta Aquariids - July 19th - Meteors very bright, but stationary
This is saying that they are indistinguishable from stars, or that the stars themselves are actually meteors.
  • (made-up) Dromaeosaurids - July 22th - Fast, highly intelligent, can open doors
Dromaeosaurids are dinosaurs belonging to Dromaeosauridae, the family containing the genus Velociraptor, well-known from the movie Jurassic Park, and a popular xkcd-theme. When the comic was originally published, the date listed for this shower was June 12th. The main events of Jurassic Park take place on June 11th and 12th.
  • (real) Perseids - August 12th - Instead of falling from sky, meteors erupt from ground
  • (made-up) Tau Pyramids - August 15th - Visible even when eyes are closed
Probably a reference to pyramidal cells, a type of neuron in the brain that is linked to cognition, and to the Tau particle, a heavy sibling of the electron. When they traveled outside of Earth's magnetosphere on their way to the Moon, Apollo astronauts saw flashes of light about every three minutes even with their eyes closed; these were caused by high energy particles (cosmic rays) penetrating their eyes and brain.
  • (real) Draconids - October 8th - Very slow, but follow you if you run
  • (real) Orionids - October 21st - Entire shower happens at once
  • (real) Leonids - November 17th - In 1966, unusually active Leonid shower killed God
There was a very active Leonid shower. However, it occurred several months after the article Is God Dead? published in Time Magazine that year.
  • (real) Geminids - December 13th - Can be deflected with tennis rackets

The title text refers to the folk wisdom that lightning strikes the tallest thing around. Randall expressed frustration over how "maddeningly inexact" that statement is, and elaborated on the problem mathematically, on his what if? blog, in the post on lightning.


Transcript

The xkcd guide to meteor showers

[There is a three-column table]

Name - Peak - Notes
Quadrantids - January 4th - Bring pets inside during peak activity
Tricuspids - January 21st - Not viewable in region 2 countries
Centaurids - February 6th - Too faint to see without going outside
Beta Aquariids - February 10th - Inverted shower converges toward Aquarius instead of radiating away
Chelyabids - February 15th - Only one meteor per shower, but it's big.
Lyrids - April 22nd - Meteors sometimes scream
Daytime Zeta Perseids - June 9th - Likely a NASA hoax
June Boötids - June 27th - 50/50 mix of meteors and shooting stars
Southern Delta Aquariids - July 19th - Meteors very bright, but stationary
Dromaeosaurids - July 22th - Fast, highly intelligent, can open doors
Perseids - August 12th - Instead of falling from sky, meteors erupt from ground
Tau Pyramids - August 15th - Visible even when eyes are closed
Draconids - October 8th - Very slow, but follow you if you run
Orionids - October 21st - Entire shower happens at once
Leonids - November 17th - In 1966, unusually active Leonid shower killed God
Geminids - December 13th - Can be deflected with tennis rackets


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Discussion

The dates are not in order ‎99.108.140.97 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Maybe the tennis reference is to Bob and Mike Bryan, they are twins. 83.227.33.35 09:36, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

The date for Dromaeosaurids was originally June 12, but on the page displayed at 9:44 ET, is now July 22.

Lyrids: Scream because of the similarity to "Lyrics"? 74.125.57.36 15:08, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

"Lyra" (the constellation of origin) is a harp. Nitpicking (talk) 03:41, 23 November 2021 (UTC)

I don't know if it's relevant, but pyramidal cells are needed in complex object recognition and in vision-guided motor function. By closing your eyes, you're basically not using much of your pyramidal cells' capabilities. They're also one of the largest neurones, but I doubt that's relevant. 83.173.97.36 15:28, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

When it comes to the Leonids, John Lennon (I know it's a stretch), made his "bigger than Jesus" comment in '66 12.1.208.178 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Or perhaps it's related to the film 300 where Leonidas says: "Even a god can bleed?"--129.215.124.225 21:50, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

For Draconids, are there any movies with dragons that would fit the given description? --Irino. (talk) 18:56, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Reign Of Fire first came to mind as far as dragons are concerned, but unlike the Jurassic Park T-Rex (which might be an influence, given their co-billing alongside the 'Raptor threat) I don't think they were blind to the motionless (just had bad vision at sunset?) and neither were they were notably slow (far from it!). Various zombies (non-Rage ones) are slow but surprisingly good at catching people who trip, but I don't see any obvious connection there either. Maybe there's another Monster Movie which has the same sort of thing with dragons? I had also considered Komodo Dragons, which are often filmed lumbering about, although they've got a turn of speed on them when attacking so... Anyway, my thoughts, FWIW. 178.104.103.140 23:00, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

With regard to "daytime" meteor showers being a NASA hoax, would anyone be able to see a meteor shower during the daytime? Odysseus654 (talk) 00:12, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Regarding Centaurids: You could look at a meteor shower from inside through a window. Glare or perhaps light absorbed by the glass could make it difficult or impossible to see a meteor shower unless it is bright enough. (I nearly lost my edit to Odysseus654 who posted just before me.) 76.106.251.87 00:15, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Perseids (“Instead of falling from sky, meteors erupt from ground”) are named after Perseus, a well-known hero of Ancient Greek mythology. The Perseids line apparently refers to another Ancient Greek myth, about founding the Thebes city by another Ancient Greek hero, Cadmus, who, according to the story, sowed the dragon teeth into the ground, from where the fierce warriors have grown ("erupted"); these warriors then, after a couple of story twists, assisted Cadmus in building the city. Honeyman (talk) 01:03, 10 August 2013 (UTC

Geminids: how about Prince of Tennis? [1] 84.193.43.190 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Lyrids: The first thing I thought of was those "screamer" rockets on July 4th, possibly due to the fireworks reference in the first row of the table. 173.245.52.119 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

TIL that the Daytime Zeta Perseids are 1) actually real and 2) actually consistently daytime. I thought it was one of the jokes. --172.69.63.126 13:24, 31 October 2021 (UTC)

I came in 8 years after this article was created, and there was nothing on the Geminids, so I added a bit (rather than putting "Incomplete" on it this late). Nitpicking (talk) 03:41, 23 November 2021 (UTC)