by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Geminid Meteor Shower 2012

A Leonid meteor streaks across the sky above Montauk at the eastern end of New York's Long Island
(photo credit: Tushar N Dadarwala, January 2012)

As if this week wasn’t already busy enough, we’re having a meteor shower!

I’m not sure anyone makes umbrellas for this sort of thing, but if they did, surely they’d be clear so that we could see meteors streaking across the sky, right?

The Geminids will be at their 2012 height on December 13 and 14th, and like all other meteor showers is metaphysically thought of as a time when ‘sparks’ (ideas, little “illuminations”) enlighten us…or maybe just amaze or entertain us.

(Which is which depends on who you are!)

One of the interesting things about the Geminid shower is that unlike most other meteor showers, it isn’t ‘caused’ by a comet. No, the Geminids owe their existence to an asteroid named Phaethon.

In case you don’t remember Phaethon, I tend to think of it as a second-cousin-once-removed from Icarus. Both represent haste of some kind, with Icarus more inclined towards not wanting to listen to the ‘how to’s which, as a result, leads to some sort of “downfall” where Phaethon is simply bull-headed.

But this isn’t just any sort of bull-headedness, this is teenaged bull-headedness. As the myth tells it, 
Phaethon gets into a wrangle with Apollo, said wrangle ending with Apollo having promise to grant Phaethon a wish. Personally, I sort of wonder how the Greek god of enlightenment (of all things!) could be so stupid as to promise some teen whatever he wants (parents, are you with me?) but that’s one of the truly wonderful things about Greek myth and why it so embodies human archetypes.

Greek gods are fallible. They make mistakes, they break their promises, they rather embody the idea that to be human is divine.

(go ahead, laugh…!)

In the story, Phaethon asks to drive Apollo’s sun chariot. Knowing how dangerous it would be to let Phaethon do this, Apollo explains and explains and explains and just like any teenager, Phaethon is has an ‘I don’t care what he says, I CAN do this!’ conviction stuck in his head. He insists, and Apollo, being god of honesty and truth, has to keep his promise.

The results are disastrous. And yes, deadly.

The Fall of Phaethon by Peter Paul Rubens

Given all this, it’s interesting that the Geminids show up every year during holiday time. Are they little warnings to be careful and not to overindulge? Or are they signs of some sort of 'deadly' sort of thing which is about to happen to us - maybe because we're too stubborn to heed good common sense?

A lot of which-is-which in your world will be astrologically read by where your natal Phaethon is – and where it is currently by transit. (In case you’re going to use one of the free services to look up where your Phaethon is, its astronomical number is 3200.)

As the Geminids streak our night skies this year, Phaethon is at 25 Aries – conjunct Eris. Also conjunct Kassandra, which we talked about in yesterday’s blog on Uranus.

And when you get to tomorrow’s post on the New Moon? Remember that Phaethon is part of the Eris ‘flavor’ to this month’s New Moon. As far as that goes, considering celestial ‘ranks’ Phaethon is merely an asteroids where Eris is a dwarf planet. So in that sense Eris takes precedence, indicating a ‘headstrong’ quality in how we create trouble or stand up against it.

But then again…Eris is ‘way out there’ beyond Neptune. Phaethon is a main-belt, Earth-crossing asteroid. In other words, Phaethon’s outer orbital point (its aphelion) is in the giant “belt” of asteroids which orbit between Mars and Jupiter. Then it cycles in, passing Mars, passing Earth, passing Venus and Mercury both before looping back and heading away from the Sun.

In other words, that ‘headstrong’ thing? That’s something which is ‘closer’ to us than the perspective Eris asks of us.

As an astronomical event, the Geminids are one of the best meteor showers to view, as it tends to be very ‘intense’ in terms of frequency (meteors per hour). I’m sure in reading this a few of us will laugh, thinking about how similar this too is to teen attitudes.

That the peak of the Geminids occurs at the time of a New Moon is very convenient for sky watchers. With no moonlight hazing things up, meteors will be easier to spot and more of them will be visible.

But astrologically? The New Moon is its own symbol. And that this New Moon is being underscored (colored? modified?) by Uranus goes direct is a sign of big doings. Major events. Changes. Even big possibilities.

Yet how that turns out depends on you. On how you take things and what you do with your life. This New Moon is an interesting one, so check out the blog and see what you think.

Just as a suggestion though…? Don’t ignore any Greek gods driving chariots. And since this is a New Moon and the Geminid will be more evident as we look up at the sky, that seems something of a celestial request that we see the signs and heed them.

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