Catching Meteors

Meteors or “falling stars” are an annual visual treat for casual observers and amateur astronomers alike, all around the world. I had my first experience of observing a meteor shower with the Perseids last weekend.

In what turned out to be an unforgettable experience, my girlfriend Leina, and I took a late-night road trip to Prairie Gardens, located near Bon Accord, a small town in central Alberta and an International Dark Sky community.

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A sample picture of the night sky at Prairie Gardens.

As a waning gibbous moon rose prominently above the distant horizon, we alighted upon a parking spot near an open field watching the night sky gradually come alive with the familiar band of the Milky Way Galaxy, and the luminous freckles of innumerable stars. Grabbing some popcorn, we would spend the next few hours watching a wonderful show of celestial beauty.

Of course, the night wasn’t complete without a short monologue (thanks to my background in astrophysics) on the phenomenon itself, before the show got underway. I will be treating you, my fellow readers, to the same today while providing further information and resources for all who are interested in catching the next similar astronomical event.

What are meteors?

Meteors are bits of interplanetary material falling through the Earth’s atmosphere. The same objects are also identified as meteoroids while they are hurtling through space, becoming meteors for the few seconds they streak across the sky and create glowing trails. Meteorite essentially refers to the same phenomenon, the major distinction being it is a meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and impacts the planet’s surface.

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It is estimated that about 44,000 kilograms of meteoritic material falls on the Earth every day. Several meteors per hour can be observed on any given night. It is when the number increases dramatically that these events are termed meteor showers.

What causes a meteor shower?

Taking the Perseid meteor shower as an example, the phenomenon we are observing is caused by the Earth’s motion through the dust and debris left behind by the comet Swift-Turtle, the largest object known to repeatedly pass the Earth. The comet last passed our planet during its orbit around the sun in 1992, and its next visit will be in 2126 (I should be 135 years old then, but don’t worry, I will give you all a heads-up). It is Earth’s passage through the leftover comet debris that results in meteor showers. The Perseid meteor shower is particularly popular, and peaks around August 12 every year. Most of the meteors in the Perseids are about the size of a grain of sand, and rarely make it all the way to the Earth’s surface.

Are there others?

Other meteor showers and their associated comets include the Leonids (Tempel-Tuttle), the Aquarids and Orionids (Halley), and the Taurids (Encke), most of which are modest showers. The Geminids, coming up on December 13, are typically one of the best and most reliable of the annual meteor showers with peak rates of about 120-200 (at best) meteors per hour.

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Photo by David Kingham of the Perseid meteor shower, awarded Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year award in 2013,  combining 23 individual stills over several hours.

What do you need to see them?

Very simple. All you need to catch the show is darkness, somewhere comfortable to sit, and a bit of patience. The best thing to do is drive away from the city lights, and go to a nice dark place by the suburbs or countryside. Prepare to sit outside for a few hours, and bring some snacks and bug spray. Finally, let your eyes adjust to the darkness, and enjoy the show!

Where can I follow up on all of this?

The World Wide Web is a wonderful resource. Space or Astronomy, and even more obviously, NASA, all provide wonderful updates and articles on the various astronomical events throughout the year. So, whenever you feel like indulging in your inner astronomer, and something out of this world, just check out these resources.

In that vein, I leave you all with a reminder that we do have a solar eclipse coming up tomorrow. The eclipse will primarily be featured across America where people will have the chance to observe a total solar eclipse, while Canada will see a partial solar eclipse. To all my readers in America and Canada, have your eclipse glasses ready for this! To all my readers elsewhere around the world, for more information and live streams, you can always check out: Solar Eclipse!

Happy observing everyone!

Almost there…

It has been an ascent of Sisyphean proportions to the summit of publishing my book, and the journey’s end is now in plain sight. Having toiled persistently, I have pushed against the heavy boulder of formatting, and have finally alighted upon the stage of approving the final proof of the book before it is on its way for publication.

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The book will be published in both paperback, and e-book format (thus, the delays and exponential workload in formatting). But, patience is a virtue. Being the perfectionist I am, I want my work to be published at its best quality, and so we continue with this waiting game temporarily. Independent publishing certainly keeps your hands full but it is a wonderful feeling once your book is out. At the least, another week remains before the official date of publication.

Having been so focused on the publishing business, I’ve had little time to post anything new and interesting on the blog, and I apologize for this. While I wait for the proof copy of my paperback to arrive at my doorstep, I will get back on those posts I promised earlier. In fact, I hope to have one up by tomorrow evening, where I will detail my most recent adventures in observing the Perseid meteor showers.

I thank all my readers for their patience. You guys are the best!

Getting Fired Up!!

Hi everyone, here’s a quick update!

The last few weeks have been intense, and I’ve been quite busy. Having finally completed the proofreading for my second book, I’m now all set to move into the production phase, beginning with some illustrations.

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All art begins with imitation, and as such I have spent the last week pouring over a compendium of images, and ideas I had contemplated for this stage. While progress has been slow (thanks to my perfectionist ideals), I look forward to getting the book out by this fall.

In the meantime,  I also recently finished the three-part series covering various facets on the phenomenon of climate change. The first entry was posted almost a month back on June 25, 2017. Little did I know then that in the days to follow I would successfully secure a research topic for my PhD addressing the very issue I was writing about on my blog. As of now, I have begun my “doctoral” adventures focusing on interdisciplinary research involving “semiconductor mediated artificial photosynthesis…”

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In simple terms, my research will involve studying, and creating technologies to assist in the mitigation of steadily increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, a major global scientific challenge of the 21st century. Carbon capture is an important issue in the context of climate change as well as the looming global energy crisis; my research, will take inspiration from nature, namely the process of natural photosynthesis (the chemical reaction at the basis of life), and mimic the same behavior through electro-mechanical systems of higher efficiency, or “artificial photosynthesis.” If I were to exaggerate slightly, it would be the same as planting artificial trees that are consistently more efficient in helping recycle the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Having spent the last few days reading an assortment of research papers on this topic, and looking like this for the most part of it,

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I’m hoping to put my brain to good use, and to a certain measure, come up with something awesome during my degree, so that one day I could celebrate like this,

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Beyond all this research business, I still intend to keep up to date with my blog despite my busy schedule. In that vein, my next post will be a book review on Luc Ferry’s,

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I’ve also decided to move along from my extensive summaries on Carl Sagan’s “Dragons of Eden.” Instead, I will provide a rich synopsis of the remainder of the book, while skipping on the gory details. This way I can encourage you, my readers, to read the book itself while not giving away the majority of its contents.

So when all is said and done,  I’m fired up for what’s to come in the next few months.

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The Pensive Reverie will also continually evolve as I intend to implement a few minor, but significant changes in its content organization. Once again, I thank you all for your patience. The next post should be up very soon!

 

 

Passage Of Time…

Gazing out the window, I observe the tempestuous motion of clouds in the sky. The chill of a wet breeze strikes my skin as I swing along with the rhythmic motion of the trees in my neighborhood, dancing to the progressive wind. Relaxing in the comforting solitude of my humble abode, my reflections render a view across time, allowing me to travel back, and revisit the nostalgic memories of the past that led me to my current life.

A journey that began in a small corner of the world, I awakened my dreams at the sight of the luminous lamps of fire that lit up the night sky of my hometown. Contemplating on the questions that beset my curiosity, I stumbled forward, on and on, desperate to seek answers. Soaring upon the wings of my ambitions, I ventured forward into the unknown, finding strength in the arms of three beings without whom I would not be the man I am today (Mom, Dad, Sis, I love you).

Bidding farewell to our last summer, I would pave my own path in life, meeting various personalities along the way, experiences with frequent beginnings, and ends. Reinventing myself over, and over, I eventually discovered my grounds in who I wished to be in the place of another’s heart, completing a journey that brought me full circle to the little bits of everything I found in her, and appreciated in life (Thank you, Leina).

Time waits for no one…and so I wish to fall briefly into the wrenching melancholic, and bittersweet nostalgia of all that has come to be in my life so far. To the friends, and family I have met, and who have supported me along the way I give you my deep-felt thanks. Though we may be distances apart, seeking our own ends in life, our memories together will forever remain in my heart.

Now, as the tides of time push me forward, I find my resolve in the joy of our times together, and remembering those happy days we shared. Embracing the present that is built upon those memories, I find my reason to smile, thankful for all that I have been given in life. Alighting on my 26th birthday, I look toward a new, and grand horizon of adventures to follow. Thus, I’m led forward by the me of tomorrow, who holds my hand, and filled with dreams of the future, but supported all the way, by the me of yesterday, who holds all of our memories together, and follows right along…in what has been my life, or rather a passage of time…

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Cherish the memories of the past, Embrace the present, and happily Anticipate the future…Time may progress inevitably, but it is our choice to make this life, a moment that transcends eternity…

Sorry for the wait…

Hi everyone,

Ideally, I would have had a blog post up by now. Unfortunately, I was taken unawares by a sudden bout of sickness that left me out of action for the last week.

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While it has been a frustrating experience, being bedridden came with its fair share of perks, namely, a lot of reading, and brainstorming (I was physically out of it, but for some reason, my mental faculties were whizzing as usual).

Now that I have recovered to a good measure, I will have the first of a three-part series of posts discussing “Climate Change” online by next weekend. I intend to use this format such that I may be able to cover a wide spectrum of issues, concerning the topic, within the scientific, political, and socio-economic regimes. The goal is to provide for well-deserved communication, and education on a highly controversial subject that is inherently a simple, but significant, circumstance of our interaction with nature.

I will also post a book review on Luc Ferry’s, A Brief History of Thought, which I finished reading recently. Coupled with my efforts to finish my second book, I’m looking forward to a busy week of writing. I intend to move towards pre-production beginning with the necessary illustrations for the book. The goal is to have it published by the end of this summer (at the latest, fingers crossed).

Meanwhile, I shall continue to fight the good fight as I juggle my temporary term of unemployment with my academic endeavors, and my writing. It is quite difficult to keep a regular working schedule, especially when I’m spread thin over various fronts, but hey that is life! As excited as I am now to publish my second book, I can’t wait to get started on the subsequent writing projects I have in store. Similarly, there is a lot to look forward to in the near future, not to mention “evolving” another year  in two weeks’ time. This post was to just inform all of you that I’m still here. Once again, I apologize for the delay!

I will see you all again next weekend!

Adventures in Drawing – A New Beginning

Previously on “Adventures in Drawing,” I discussed several matters of art. I specifically placed emphasis on the three valuable lessons of learning to actively see thingsthe value of repetition, and drawing what one sees, not what one knows.

The second half of the drawing course followed the application of said rules with a series of projects. I had the wonderful opportunity to test my skills with various mediums from charcoal, graphite, and conté sticks. Along for the ride came an assortment of healthy drawing techniques I had learned earlier involving the use of guidelines, the ability to delineate depth and active perception in objects, as well as blind contour drawing etc. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to test my skills with the various media (Figures 1-2).

Figure 1. Man’s best friend (using charcoal, and graphite). 

 

Having completed the course, I can certainly say that my knowledge, and library of resources pertaining to drawing has grown exponentially. If there is a takeaway message from my experiences so far, it would be the following: simply put, anyone can be an artist. All you need is an HB pencil, a sketchbook, and a little bit of incentive. Most importantly, practice makes perfect.

In my opinion, I view drawing, and art, in general, as a personal interpretation of one’s environment, and imagination; a realm of infinite possibilities. The uniqueness factor of one’s works is dictated not through the judgment of external critics but rather one’s own individuality. Thus, you have nothing to fear in the criticism of your own doodles. We are all artists in our own measure. As Mason Cooley put it, “Art begins with imitation, and ends in innovation.”

Figure 2. Unfinished swimmer (using conté sticks)

With every passing day, I get closer to achieving the same with my artwork. Once again, I’ve learned that practice makes perfect. (On a side note, it also helps to have an encouraging partner, especially one who goes out of their way to buy you a legit Japanese manga kit but I digress.) If I could briefly summarize the steps that I have taken so far in my journey in drawing, and that I wish to share to my fellow aspiring artists, they would be:

(1) Start with doodles, and doodle frequently. Sketch whatever you wish to sketch. Freedom of imagination, and action is important in drawing.

(2) Get a few guide books on the side, or even better, just parse through the overwhelming history of artists, and their works that we can readily find information about on the WWW (world-wide-web).

(3) Trying a short, and supplementary course is highly beneficial too. Learning drawing also involves the communication of ideas, and techniques. (Check out the arts center in your city. If you don’t have one, Udemy is a wonderful online resource for awesome, and cheap courses. And if that doesn’t work, then it’s even more simple, learn from nature, and become your own artist. There’s no limit to human creativity, and imagination.)

(4) Aggregate the lessons you learn in infinitesimal steps, and integrate them toward a full learning experience.

Moving on from here, I intend to eagerly pursue my dream of becoming a mangaka in the future. For those among my readers who are avid comic fans, and are particularly interested in making their own comics, I highly suggest the constructive anatomy, and figure drawing books written by Burne Hogarth, and George Bridgman (shown below) to get you started.

But after all is said, and done, remember to relax, and just have fun with it!

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Transitions

Life is all about transitions. One moment, we find ourselves latched on to something, and the next instant there is something new around the corner that catches our attention. I have had to deal with my fair share of minute, but influential transitions owing to my absence over the last few weeks; ranging from decisions I have had to make on my academic career in pursuit of a PhD (which has incidentally become a wild-goose chase for funding opportunities), to my exodus in obtaining a driver’s license, and all the way to alighting upon the final stages of content editing my second book (Agent X)!

All of which brings me here today, back to my pensive reverie, during a stormy overcast in Edmonton that beckons me to take up the “keyboard” again, and get back to the blog posts I have been planning for a while. So without further ado, this is what we have to look forward to in the coming days!

Beginning with another recap of my “Adventures in Drawing” I will come full-circle as I complete my Drawing 101 course, and present a few more tricks I have learned over the past month.

Following this, we will shift gears, and in lieu with the current political “climate” (particularly with reference to the recent proceedings at the Paris Accords), I will provide a report on climate change, approaching the topic from a scientific, political, and socio-economic perspective.

I will also add another chapter to my review of Carl Sagan’s “Dragons of Eden,” as we explore the mechanisms of the human brain including the R-complex, the Limbic System, and the Neocortex.

Lastly, following up on a request from a reader, I will provide a learner’s review of Bitcoins, a crypto-currency, and modern digital payment system!

So, all in all, look forward to a good number of updates on the blog, and some healthy reading over the coming days everyone!

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