Aries – the ram

January 21, 2018

Astronomy

The constellation of Aries is pretty much just three dim little stars. A small flattened triangle, that’s it. Sorry if you identify Aries with your birthday, but that really is it. If you are looking to get the star pattern as a birth-sign tattoo, this one should be the cheapest.

The Babylonians at first decided this one was a farm worker, but later changed it to a ram. To the Chinese it was a couple of government inspectors sticking their noses into your business. Again, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

Back thousands of years ago when people first started making a big dramatic deal out of the sun signs, Aries was where you would find the Sun during the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. That’s kind of important in the traditions of every ancient culture. The Egyptians associated these stars with the fertility god Amon-Ra which shows that it was a big deal to them at the time too.

I'm so sorry.

The mythical ram represented here is one whose skin had magical properties. That was a good thing for anyone except the ram because a guy named Phrixus skinned it. The skin was the magical part. Like if you were severely wounded they would cover you up with the skin and you would be healed. They called it the “golden fleece” and for a while everyone was trying to steal it. I have a nice fleece that I bought in Kilkenny Ireland which is basically a sweater and it is not magical as far as I know, and so far I don’t think anyone has tried to steal it. Anyway Jason and the Argonauts stole the golden one which makes it important enough to be a constellation.

The Delta Arietids meteor shower radiates from Aries and peaks around December 9 each year. There aren’t very many of them per hour but they are known for moving slowly and they frequently include fireballs, which is cool. Most meteors are caused by bits of gravel the size of fingernails. A fireball is when a much bigger rock comes along, sometimes the size of a truck. It lights up the sky so much that even if you happen to be looking down you will suddenly see your shadow, and your shadow will be sweeping along the ground rapidly as the object streaks across the sky.

In my own experience, you will see roughly one fireball, also known as a bolide, for every hundred hours to two hundred hours you spend out under the stars. Sometimes they make a loud boom like a super-sonic jet breaking the sound barrier. Sometimes they explode from the pressure built up against the atmosphere at those high speeds. I once saw one break into two parts. Sometimes they skip on the atmosphere like a flat rock on a pond, leaving a series of streaks. If you are looking to witness a fireball, the Delta Arietids are a good place to start.

Some people are born under the sign of Aries.

Carpe Noctem

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