Of things Lyrid, Saturnine, Solar and TEOTWAWKI

From Spaceweather comes, first, benign news and, then, news that one of these days is going to precede TEOTWAWKI:

LYRID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is approaching the debris field of ancient Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on April 21-22; a nearly-new moon on those dates will provide perfect dark-sky conditions for meteor watching. Usually the shower is mild (10-20 meteors per hour) but unmapped filaments of dust in the comet’s tail sometimes trigger outbursts 10 times stronger.

It’s called the Lyrid shower because the meteors appear to spoke out from the constellation Lyra.


SATURN’S RINGS AT THEIR BEST: This week Saturn is at opposition–directly opposite the sun in the skies of Earth. The ringed planet rises at sunset and soars high in the sky at midnight, up all night long. Opposition is the time when Saturn’s rings are at their best. From the point of view of Earth, shadows in the ring plane almost completely disappear (just as your own shadow tries to hide beneath your feet at noon) and sunlight is directly backscattered by icy ring particles toward our planet.

From our perspective, Saturn has a wobble over a long arc of time.  Therefore we sometimes have to look at him direct on, so that we can barely see the rings.  At other times, Saturn is tilted toward or away from us and we get a better view.

And then there’s… this:

SPECTACULAR EXPLOSION: Magnetic fields on the sun’s northeastern limb erupted around 17:45 UT on April 16th, producing one of the most visually-spectacular explosions in years. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths:

The explosion, which registered M1.7 on the Richter Scale of solar flares, was not Earth-directed. [This time.] A CME produced by the blast is likely to hit NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft, but probably no planets.

This event confirms suspicions that an active region of significance is rotating onto the Earth-facing side of the sun. [DUM DUM DAAAAAAAH!  I would start stocking up on Mystic Monk Coffee, friends.  Don’t think ponder it.  Just do it.] Stay tuned for updates. Solar flare alerts:text,phone.

One of these days, something reeeeallly bog blasted out of the Sun will strike the earth, and our lives will dramatically change.

If you are responsible for anyone else, and if you don’t think about these things from time to time, you are nuts.

Have a nice day!

I’m going to celebrate today’s narrow dodge of life-altering doom by observing National Eggs Benedict Day.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. While you’re checking out at the Mystic Monk online storefront, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to find out your local parish’s confession times too. Coffee tastes better after absolution & penance!

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Before we bought our house, I went over to it, a night, and waited to see whether I could discern the Milky Way. I could, after a few minutes, and said to myself, Check that Item on the List!

  3. jbpolhamus says:

    I just bought like five packages of the coffee, that’s like the gift pack, plus one bag, plus the sample bag. But, like, I gave away one bag as a gift, and the sample bag of Cowboy Blend. Like, should I ask for that back? ‘Cause that’s, like, solar strength. I mean I can still drink it, ’cause I know them. But what if I’m not at their house if we have a solar CME strength, apparrently. Will four bags be enough?…because one of them is just the regular Breakfast Blend. The others are stronger. Is it wrong to, like, use the Oxford Comma with the word “like” so much? [Like, when in Oxford, comma, like, Oxonians.]

  4. Maltese says:

    A Carrington event would certainly put us in a bad-mood, much like poking a mother bear in the ribs does, or twirling a stick in a fire-ant does!

    Maybe the first three days to two weeks we would be civil…maybe.

    Certainly a stock of Mystic Monk is in order, as well as cases of alcohol (both for medicinal and general use, to include bartering). But I am of the opinion that some things will save you after a CME: MREs, llamas (they are great self-sustaining animals, and are mostly used as pack animals), a shotgun (with both slug and buckshot rounds available) [And lots of it! Perhaps also a smallbore rifle for small game and a handgun, for obvious reasons.], water (with chloride), fire-making apparatus (to include flint, matches, and lighters), knives [Have a favorite maker? I like Benchmade and Coldsteel.], tent and sleeping bags, etc.

    I’m a big backpacker, so I own some of this stuff (to include a shotgun, the greatest home-defense weapon known to man), but the greatest tool of all, [There are fewer deterrents more compelling than the sound of a shotgun pump.] of course, is the Rosary! [Do I hear an “Amen!”? I have recently started experimenting with making rosaries from paracord. I haven’t yet produced anything that I am anywhere near happy with. In some circumstances it may be good to have a Rosary that doesn’t make noise and doesn’t reflect any light.]

  5. pm125 says:

    That’s something for the good news – the narrow dodge.
    Have a nice day?!
    So, now I have to wonder how long between the earth-facing flare and the CME effect here.
    Will the phone alert work? Land line or cell – neither. How about the kitchen appliances? Would elderly be safe in the cellar? Will the car start? Will the cat behave in a warning manner? Could someone sleep through it? The weekend tornadoes – worse or what by comparison. If it’s teofthewawki, no internet access probably – only hot running water? Ja – nice day.

  6. albizzi says:

    If I remember well the delay is about 8 – 10 hrs.
    Depending on the power of the CME, all electric / electronic based devices will become out of order and no longer work. Say good bye to your cell phones, PC, internet, domestic electric power in your homes, your cars, telephones, even telegraphs, aircrafts, motor ships etc… unless they are protected under a 5 cm lead sheet.
    No harm is possible on the people. Be happy and don’t worry, the priests will continue saying masses at the light of the candles and hearing confessions. That’s all we need.

  7. Joe in Canada says:

    speaking of TEOTWAWKI, tomorrow (Tuesday) is the Canadian commemoration of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, soon to be Saint Kateri.

  8. inara says:

    Lyra is our youngest daughter’s name ~ hoping for clear skies to do some meteor watching!

    As for giant solar flares, I’m thinking we should liquidate the savings account & trade in the motorcycle & rickety old Winnebago for a few horses…oh, & buy a couple more guns.

  9. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The solar photo reminds me of the monster from Forbidden Planet.

  10. Andy Lucy says:

    Put your electronics in a Faraday cage, if you’re worried about the EMP caused by a CME or a high-atmospheric nuclear detonation. Examine alternate means of producing electricity… solar, wind, steam, etc… No reason to revert to the 19th century if we don’t have to.

    Rosaries made from 550 cord are excellent. We keep them in our bug-out bags at all times… and I carry one in my EDC bag, as well. [Good idea.]

  11. The Cobbler says:

    I’m kinda with Maltese and with Andy Lucy — although nothing’s guaranteed, there are ways to up your chances of survival and even your data’s chances of survival. (There will be no internet; however, we needn’t lose everything we don’t have printed hardcopy.) The big trick with faraday cages is that for something like this you need more like a large metal box (I don’t know if it needs to be a screen or mesh or if, given the old metal can experiment that demonstrated the principle in the first place, any metal box will do), since, as I had pointed out to me when I ran wild with possibilities for protecting things last time this came up, you can’t just use chicken wire for anything more than playing with tesla coils.

    The biggest issue anyone’s going to have is the national infrastructure — most of us are not self-sufficient by any means. Even if you protect your cell phone, how is it going to relay with all the satellites and cell towers cooked good? Even if we retain sources for electricity (and believe me, it’ll be quite possible to get the coal and oil power plants back online eventually — the question is when it’ll even be a priority), that doesn’t mean that it’ll be of any noteworthy use to us with all the publicly needed equipment that is knocked out (which, actually, is why it’s not likely it should be a priority — though it may be because people don’t realize how useless it is; frankly, I’d start with heating and air conditioning and running water — which won’t disappear immediately, but which may present difficulties restocking the water towers with the electric pumps gone — and think about electricity only inasmuch as it plays into these). The main problem with cars is gonna be power steering; if you can rewire to get around that, the next will be replacing sparkplugs, which could potentially be a pretty small issue compared to most of what we’ll face. Horse and buggy won’t replace the car; we’re more likely to have a priority put on sparkplug distribution. However… may I recommend bicycles as convenient even before the apocalypse and easier to care for than a llama?

    And food? You need lots of stuff that won’t go bad after your freezer’s exploded. I mean lots, because you don’t know when the truckers will be able to get more stuff from the farms to your local grocery, or whether most of teh stuff the grocery relies on will also go bad for lack of refrigeration, or what. (I’ll grant you we’re not going to drop nearly immediately to zero food outside what individuals have stocked up, because some of it may be stored in naturally refrigerated warehouses rather than electrically cooled ones… I think… but those are hard to make work reliably year round in all climates except by putting them underground, which is particularly uncommon.) In fact, if you only have so much money to spare that can go toward nonperishable food stocks or toward something to protect your laptop, forget the laptop — not only is it far less useful to you in the event civilization never fully recovers, it’s no use to you at all if you’re dead.

    And means of self-defense? A gun is definitely handy if you can learn to use and aquire and keep one (difficult in some parts of the country), on account of it being long range and all, but — if anyone wants to debate this I’d be happy to hear what they have to say — personally I’d rather take up martial arts than stockpile ammo. Enough ammo to shoot off a few dozen attackers, sure, and hope you only ever have to use a couple shots in the time of civil chaos; but after that I’m again more worried about food. I guess my mindset is that the gun is for the attackers who also have guns — which isn’t going to be everybody and fewer still will have ammo stockpiled long-term who aren’t doing so to defend themselves — whereas if you can beat an immediate knife-weilding attacker with a baseball bat there’s no need to expend ammo. (And no, I don’t want to beat people with baseball bats — we’re talking, what options does a body have in the event that folk riot through the streets in the aftermath of the end of the world as we know it.) Also, being capable of barricading your home — or any hole you dig out for yourself temporarily — is probably at least as important as having a gun.

    All in all, I suspect the biggest problem with this is that society as a whole isn’t prepared for it, not that we can’t prepare individually and improve our chances. What I’m worried about is less the natural disasters that’ll prove whether there’s still care for the common good left in the average Joe in America (I believe Chesterton, having criticized a few of Americans’ obsessions, was asked that surely he must think the ideal American is something good whatever the average American may be, only to reply that on the contrary it’s the ideal American that’s problematic while the average American’s a perfectly fine chap despite what he often thinks is ideal), and more the man-made catastrophes that could happen in my lifetime (say, economic collapse to which world authorities respond with totalitarian power including, despite all the “choice” rhetoric, trying to control and manage our breeding).

    Oh, and the rosary (relevant no matter what happens) — if all else fails, how many fingers do you have? (If you lost one or something, you have two options: check your toes, and/or go twice over one hand. As long as you’ve got at least one appendage with all five of its digits intact you can fairly easily count a rosary without beads, nice as the beads are and much as they require less attention to the counting.)

  12. bookworm says:

    “Be happy and don’t worry, the priests will continue saying masses at the light of the candles and hearing confessions.”

    Assuming, of course, that you are within walking distance of a Catholic parish. What are you going to do if you live way out in the boonies and can’t drive to Mass? And don’t know anyone with horses or buggies available? Being close to a church might be one advantage to living in a city or town if and when this happens.

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