Comet Tales (Tails) and Meteor Showers

A Teaching article, Part 2

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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In article Part One of this series, we looked at the concept of comets and their effects with particular emphasis on the current passage of Comet Elenin. For Part Two of this series, we will first look at the technical part of comet tails and meteor showers and then we will look at the astrological and human application. We will begin with: what is a comet.

About 4.6 billion years ago our solar system was formed within a galactic stellar nursery containing the primordial soup that was the early universe, A huge thin cloud of gas and dust drifted, then spiraled becoming hotter as it coalesced into a central star (our Sun) using most of the available local matter to form itself. Eventually the planets formed using much (but not all) of the leftover available material closest to our Sun. We are surrounded by the dust and debris from the violent formation of our solar system, which also contains material deposited by asteroids and comets, in both the inner regions and the outer regions of the system. Most of the balance of that primordial material remains on the periphery of the solar system in what is called the Oort Cloud. Dust and debris of all sizes, asteroids, dwarf planets, plantesimals and more inhabit this distant region. The inner edge of this region is called the Kuiper Belt, and that seems to be where comets originate.

A hard object, such as an asteroid or planet, is mostly dirt with perhaps some moisture. A comet seems to be more ice than dirt, sort of a large, dirty ice ball. It is postulated that Earth’s early sources of water came from the bombardment of comets. Occasionally something galactic will stir that outer region primordial soup and a comet will come hurtling out of the Kuiper Belt and into the inner regions of the solar system. It takes up orbit around the Sun, occasionally crashes into other objects (possibly destroying them, producing more debris), or over time can get too close to the Sun and disintegrate (more debris). That is the current theory for the fate of Comet Elenin as it approaches Earth in the fall of 2011.

As any comet approaches the Sun in its orbit, the relative warming of space and solar wind friction starts to melt that dirty ice ball and both moisture particles and gas appear to follow the comet forming a long tail or two, which may be either or both moisture/dirt and out-gassing. As the comet approaches the Sun in its orbit and starts moving away from the Sun, to our perspective the tail appears to switch to leading the comet instead of following. Why? Because the pressure of the solar wind causes the comet tail to always point away from the Sun.

What is a meteor? Most meteors are individual tiny pieces of space debris that enter the Earth’s atmosphere (fall to earth) and are believed to be the debris from a current or an extinct comet or asteroid. Why? We talked about the comet’s tail, the trail of debris. Some comets and their tails pass very close to Earth’s orbit and at certain times during the year Earth can pass through a cloud of these particles. This produces what we call a meteor shower. The debris travels at a high speed (7 to 46 mps) and is vaporized by air friction into a white-hot streak or shooting star caused by the reaction of gases in our atmosphere.

Most meteoroids (the original object) range in size from sand grains to pea-sized pebbles. Most ignitions are viewed 50 to 75 miles above the surface. If larger, the particle may survive the descent to Earth and that is called a meteorite. If the meteor is brighter than any of the stars or planets, it is termed a fireball. These appear suddenly, travel very fast and seem to be closer than they actually are. They usually ignite about eight miles above the surface, but lose brightness before reaching twelve miles high. Color can vary. If it explodes at the end of its flight, it is called a bolide.

While meteors may be seen occasionally at any time of the year, at certain times there is more meteor activity than others and this flurry is called a shower, seeing one or more every few minutes. They may be seen anywhere in the sky, but their direction of motion stems from the constellation for which they are named. Comet travel radiates away from that point of origin.  To view a meteor shower you need a dark sky with little glare from surface lights. Allow time for your eyes to adjust.  Look to the area between the constellation and zenith, the 90˚ angle directly overhead. Meteors are most visible from midnight to pre-dawn due to the rotation of the Earth and the way that meteors are captured and transformed by Earth’s atmosphere. Now that we know what it is, what does it mean in human or interpretive terms?

The most important thing I can point out is that the debris of the solar system, the leftovers of the primordial soup that abound in the outer regions of the system occasionally wanders into our local space. The increasing temperatures as the comet approaches the Sun start to melt off the body into what becomes its tail(s). As the comet and its tail(s) cross Earth’s orbit, some of that debris is deposited in that area. The Earth in its natural orbit around the Sun eventually passes through that debris. Some of it is burned up in Earth’s atmosphere, some finds its way to Earth. What would be the metaphor?

Some meteorites radiate from a constellation area and would express the characteristics of that constellation just as any other planet passing through that area of space. The meteorites deposit new or un-experienced material on our planet, which is eventually assimilated. Think of the water-rich comets that for millenia delivered their life-giving waters. Do you think water had an effect on this planet and the life that evolved? Does it not make sense that there is a possible contribution or activation of some kind even now, as abstract as this may seem? How would we read it? Now we come to the realm of pure speculation. Let us give ourselves a beginning point…

If the arrival of an asteroid or a comet on Earth did not destroy life as we know it (big body), it could forever change our landscape and our living. Small bits of matter may make small bits of influence, but if one application is true, so are the others. I would begin by looking to the constellations, the radiant point from which the shooting stars come as the primary influence. Look to that constellation for the definition by sign and then look to the house in a personal chart for the effect. For example:

  • If the meteor shower is from the Geminids then the sign influence is Gemini. Think communication and education.
  • If the Gemini house in a personal chart is the 7th then look to partnerships, business and personal,
  • Possible reading of that meteor shower…new, previously unknown communication and/or education will influence personal or business partnerships of all kinds, negotiations and networking.
  • This is not once in a lifetime, it happens throughout the years, the same time every year.
  • What if it is fireball? It speaks with a louder voice, more drama and impact.
  • What if it is a bolide?  Really dramatic conclusions.
  • What if it lands on Earth? There is a tangible aspect to this activation.

How do you like this new comet tale?

The spreadsheet contains the major meteor showers and online links for resource.           

New info:

First published on All Things Healing website Sep 2011, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.