2021 – Looking Forward?

Will 2021 develop into a good year?  I hear a lot about letting 2020 go and welcoming in a new year.  But the year 2021 is a fabricated measure, like any year, month, day, hour, minute, second…

Maybe one of the unique qualities that separates humans from other animals is our fixation on categorizing, defining measures, creating classifications for everything.  Just look at sports stats…mind boggling!

My frame of reference is the electromagnetic spectrum.  It is a continuum, maybe like our universe, with no known beginning or end.  Except for the “big bang”, the event that possibly started everything we do know, there is no beginning.  Will there be and end?

Like the electromagnetic spectrum time is a continuum.  Sure, we set parameters such as seconds, hours, months, etc., but measuring time is a fabrication by us as we try to make sense of it, to make it a quantifiable dimension.  We even set ultimate limits on the shortest length of time, and it is in context with the shortest length of distance.  It’s called Plank time, the time it takes light in a perfect vacuum to travel one Plank distance (approximately 1.6163 x 10-35 meters).  Thank you, Max Plank.  With the electromagnetic spectrum it’s about wavelength and frequency.  Hmmm, this sounds like distance and time again.  Humans separate the electromagnetic spectrum into categories such as visible, x-ray, radio, gamma, microwave etc., but in reality, it is a continuum without exact boundaries.

My Rant — This is what we do with everything!  We create definitions, boundaries, categories.  We also create rules and conditions within those contexts. We then tend toward rigidity in conforming to our fabricated constructs, not able or willing to acknowledge or accept deviation from them.  This is where misunderstandings come from, even major conflicts, war.

So, where does that put 2021?  I’ll call it hopeful, hopefully a year of recovery.

Interestingly, one thing the pandemic has not had a major negative impact on is amateur astronomy.  Just check out astronomy equipment sellers…they are “out of stock” for many items, so Santa delivered a lot of telescopes and accessories this Christmas.  Good boys and girls (those who wear a mask, observe the 6-foot rule, and limit live social interactions) were rewarded for their sacrifice.  Astronomy is both a team and individual activity.  Bored with inane TV shows?  Go out and check out our sky’s natural offerings with your new telescope, binoculars, etc.!

A bunch of star parties are tentatively scheduled for 2021, but with pandemic contingencies.  Some of the closer ones:

Texas Star Party, Fort Davis, May 2-9; Okie-Tex Star Party, Kenton, OK, October 1-9; Enchanted Skies, Socorro NM, Dates To Be Announced

The McDonald Observatory Visitor Center is scheduled to re-open sometime in January 2021.  Keep checking.

What’s in the Sky?

January 3; 1am-daybreak; northeast:  The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks

Jupiter and Saturn are still visible for a while near the southwestern horizon after sunset