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Essex Field Club
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This forum has now been more or less replaced by the Club's Facebook page at
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more

Thu 9th August 2012 10:39 by Michael Daniels
Meteors and a gauntlet thrown down
Some time ago, in a previous Forum, I said I would give details concerning any astronomical events likely to be of wider interest.  Up till present there has not been much to report, but always in August we have a dates that could be worth mentioning. Of course astronomy is predominently for 'night owls' and at this time of year means waiting up late or, Graham, used to early rising!  So on this occasion, I write just two days prior to three dates that might, reward sky-watchers.  Starting on the 11th and looking upwards on the following two nights, one could be lucky to see, without any optical aid - just reasonable eyesight - the Leonid meteor shower.  This provides examples of 'shooting stars' as they were often referred to and could, with good fortune, amount to a memorable display, or, nothing in particular.  Luck plays a considerable part in this, for a start one needs a sky mostly clear of cloud and then a little patience.  Because the Leonid meteor's appearances are usually within a hourly rate of say up to one a minute, may be less, with just a small chance that the display could prove excep- tional.  As the sun still sets rather late and after-glow hangs around for a while after our star has slipped below the horizon, then best to have a look after say twelve midnight. If the night continues balmy, as of recent days, best wear a jumper and have a jacket or suchlike available in case waiting and watching is found rather a chilly undertaking. I stress, patience is a virtue and personal comfort will encourage what could prove a worthwhile distraction. Under any circumstances, seeing the great canopy of the heavens, is worthy of anyone's attention at any time - a wonderful spectacle. Hope readers who can be bothered are duly rewarded.  Oh yes, try and find a place to observe away from bright artificial lights - light polution, a great bug-bear for astronomers!

Graham, yes I certainly agree about the Forum relying on a small band of writers and all those others out there reading what the few have to say, looking at interesting images, where are their contributions?  Might be said 'it's the spirit of the age'!  Many folk just rarely write anything, some even boast they never put 'pen to paper', have never written a letter in their lives.  However, would have thought that the sort of mentality one would find amongst Essex Field Club members or those that bother to access the website, they could even just occas- sionally, make an effort.  In the June Forum I even tried to introduce a bit of controvercy with my piece on avian intelligence or lack of it, thought that would excite some response from ardent bird-lovers, but only one reliable contributor had a go back - our Graham again - no one else challenged my contention. Yes, on that point I took those examples about the Blue Tits opening milk tops, we had them do that to our bottles, and, the instance of the Japanese birds using road traffic to crush nuts, remarkable.  I still hold to my views on avain level of intellect, reinforced by watching their stupid behaviour in our garden, and certainly not impressed by watching my wife's cousin's African Grey parrot when they bring him with them when they visit. He'd certainly ready to bite the hand that feeds him and dose!  And all his idle repetitive chat they truly think is indicative of his intelligence - I think not.  But maybe there are clever birds about and thus one is reminded of what Shakespere wrote in Hamlet, er, the words duly adapted - there are more things in heaven and earth, than in all our understanding.



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