by Boots Hart, CAP

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Lyrid Meteor Shower

 Earthbound by Evelyn de Morgan (1897)

Meteor showers are interesting astronomical and astrological critters. Some are famous, the others tend to get a quick look and then on to the next thing.

The Lyrid meteor shower crests today – April 22 – and will continue being visible for the next few days. The origin of this meteor shower is a comet: C/1861 G1 (ah, romance…)…aka Thatcher, as in A.E. Thatcher, the person who discovered it.

For astrological purposes, there are a couple of generally interesting points of the Lyrid shower – the first being that it ‘bridges’ a period we would know in Sun sign terms as late Aries into early Taurus. Given that meteors represent a ‘showering of ideas’ (incidents, facts) this would mark days between April 16th and April 26th (depending on the year) as days which we would expect to have their own little quirks. Their own oddities. Their own little special events.

In my world, one was getting rousted from a sound morning sleep by chainsaws starting up about 15 feet (if that) away from where I was sleeping as the owner of my apartment complex tied into the landscaping portion of a major building rehabilitation project. (If you don't remember that 'tis the LINK.)

But then I got a phone call – quite out of the blue – from someone I know and consider a friend, if only through correspondence. We sat and talked for some two and a half hours, which if you know me is something of an endurance record (no, I’m not exactly married to the telephone. The computer, yes. The phone, no.).

Beyond me, I know a couple with a Him who is about to serve Her with ‘get out of my house’ papers. Yes, today…with Mercury at it’s station/direct point. He has some ‘idea’ this is the right thing to do to ‘get the ball rolling’ (the divorce). Will she weep and cry and move out – or will this set off WW3 in their household?

My point here is that these Lyrid days have had their peculiarities. And yesterday when I went out, the combination of the Lyrids and Mercury going on station to go direct tomorrow…well, all I can say is there was some of the wackiest street maneuvers I have seen in quite some time going on.

 Ah, Los Angeles's a photo of Interstate 10 (one of the truly
busy roads of the entire world) looking east from Crenshaw Boulevard
photo credit: Downtowngal

As someone who lives in Los Angeles (land of the automobile) the experience of driving is always an interesting reflection of what’s going on astrologically. Mercury stations are notoriously intense; whatever’s going on, it intensifies.

What I noticed is that people were deciding to stop in odd places at odd angles. It’s as if they had a whole new idea on what the rules of automotive conduct were. Or maybe that for this while, they were just going to toss those rules.

Those little quirks, ideas, the maybe I’ll call her…maybe I’ll just do ‘this’…that’s the sort of thing we would expect from the Lyrids, as they start in Aries (I Am/I Do) and they extend on into Taurus – the exploration or demonstration of what our values are. Or maybe are. Or could grow to be. Or maybe we should question if we believe we actually value that idea – or that person?

The comet behind this shower – Thatcher – is an extremely long-period comet. Considering it takes Thatcher 415.5 years to go once around the Sun, the comet itself doesn’t show its icy tail in our environs all that often. But it does leave shards – or twinkles in its wake, the icy comet ‘dust’ which Earth passes through on a yearly basis, getting it’s little Lyrid shower.

How close to us does Thatcher get? Well, let’s start with that one ‘AU’ (astronomical unit) equaling the mean/averaged distance from Earth to the Sun. With that in mind, given that Thatcher’s perihelion (inner orbital point) is at 0.9207au, that means it actually  crosses that of Earth.

And thus suggests ideas which cross our norm. Okay, that works.

Since Earth is at 1.0au and Venus is the next planet in at 0.728au at it’s aphelion (farthest point from the Sun), Thatcher doesn’t get quite as far as Venus. So it’s not about concrete things or concreting things – those are metaphysically Venusian.

So who does Thatcher hang out with as it does an ‘about face’ and begins heading out into far, far solar systemic space? Answer: another couple of comets - Swiff-Tuttle and Tempel-Tuttle. The astronomical space mechanics of this is a whole piece of astrophysical rationality we’re not going to bother going into. Suffice it to say that if many of the well known comets do a turn-around in the environs of Earth, that’s the way the solar system works.

But it’s also very emblematic of the metaphysical idea that this ‘far flung’ ideas (comets) bring us these ‘startling visions’ from time to time…and when they’re not here in person, they leave a little twinkle of an idea to inspire us now and again.

K├╝stenlandschaft bei Mondschein
by Wilhelm Krause (1862)

And when we look at where comets come from, that’s also where they seem to represent separate things. Temple-Tuttle’s (the comet which brings us the Leonid meteor shower)…it’s outer orbital point is between Saturn and Uranus. The aphelion of the comet (Glacobini-Zinner) which brings us the Draconid meteor shower is even closer – it goes only as far as beyond Jupiter but shy of Saturn.

Then we get to Swiff-Tuttle, comet of the Leonid shower. Swiff-Tuttle also passes Earth – it’s perihelion point is 0.9585au. But it’s aphelion point is waaaaay out there beyond Neptune. Beyond Pluto! Pluto and fellow Neptune-controlled Plutinos Ixion and Huya roam the 49-to-50.363au district, which is Swiff-Tuttle’s outer range, this being a comet whose aphelion is measured at 51.225au.

But Thatcher? Thatcher’s reach is twice that! Thatcher goes all the way out to 110.443au – so it’s metaphysics would be ‘out of the norm’ indeed.

How out of the norm, you ask? Well let’s just say that its out there is the Eris/Sedna operational area. There’s a funny cross-over with Eris and Sedna in terms of their (highly infrequent) crossing of orbital paths, and Thatcher crosses into and through this district which in Venn Diagram terms is where discord (Eris) overlaps immaturity (Sedna).

Hence the temporary lapses of the ‘usual’ – and what you make of that…that’s up to you. It’s often said that life isn’t what’s handed us, it’s how we respond to what get handed us. The Lyrid Meteor shower probably doesn’t ‘fix’ anything, but it certainly does seem to mark out a few days each year when we test out how to live our lives.

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