Be More Owl

Massive political change and the announcement of a new coronavirus vaccine coincided this week with peak time to see the Taurid meteor showers. Named after the constellation Taurus, they're also known as Taurid fireballs. I liked the idea of spectacular balls of fire celebrating a sense of a new, more more hopeful era.

I went out at midnight when the first quarter moon was setting, so the sky would be dark enough. The stars were bright overhead, but fog was creeping in, mingling with local artificial lighting from traffic lights, cycle path and housing. I didn't see anything. I'll have to go somewhere much darker next time.

When the U.S elections stalemate had ended, fireworks rocketed around my neighbourhood and I had itchy feet. I went for a nocturnal bike ride with a smile on my face. Lockdown and the late hour meant I had the cycle paths to myself. Tawny owls hooted. Falling leaves touched my face. Their whispering rustle in the breeze was faintly creepy, but I far preferred the dark to the coruscating blaze of lights as I cycled past the science campus.

With coronavirus enforcing more time at home I'm determined to push circadian boundaries. I am, by nature, a lark. Up at 6 with the help of a 10,000 lux light therapy lamp, my heart sinks as daylight ebbs earlier and earlier in the afternoons. I can easily be sleepy by 8 or 9 on winter nights. But lockdown limitations are making me restless; I want to be more owl.

Christmas decorations are already going up, but the dark nights will brighten in more natural ways. There are plenty more chances for 'owls' or insomniacs to see meteor showers. 15 - 20 November offers a chance to see the Leonids. The Geminids, from 4 -17 December could be particularly impressive when traces of metals in asteroid debris create white, yellow, green, red and blue showers, with around 100 meteors per hour. The Ursids last from mid to late December.

Photo by Lukas Stoermer on Unsplash