O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Monday, August 15, 2011

The August Perseid Meteor shower

The Perseids is a prolific meteor shower associated with a comet called Swift-Tuttle.
The last passage of this comet was in 1992, the next one will be in 2126.
The Perseids are named after the point they appear to come from, which lies in the constellation   Perseus. But the name derives also from a word belonging to the Greek Mythology: Perseides, son of Perseus.
The stream of debris, known as the ‘Perseid cloud’, are  particles ejected by the comet Swift-Tuttle  as it travels on its 130-year orbit. Most of the dust in the cloud today is around a thousand years old, but  there is also a relatively young filament of dust in the stream that was pulled off the comet in 1862 and that originates a higher number of meteors than the older part of the stream.
The Perseid Meteror shower has been observed for about 2000 years, with the earliest information on this meteor shower coming from the Far East (China, 36 AD). Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the "tears of St Lawrence", since 10 August is the date of that saint's martyrdom.
Each year the shower is visible in the northern hemisphere from about the middle of July, with the peak in activity in the middle of August, the exact date depends on the particular location of the stream. During the peak, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour.
The loss, on 12th August 1993, of the nearly new communications satellite Olympus, was due to an impact during the ’93 August Perseid Meteor shower. That satellite, built by the British Aerospace for the European Space Agency, was the largest civilian telecomms satellite ever built.


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