This post has been created from a conversation in the comments section of the Ladybird post here.
Once I’d finished railing at my decrepit computer, I stepped outside to view the annual Perseid shower. The default for the UK is “cloudy”, so whenever anything vaguely interesting happens in the skies and it isn’t cloudy, we Brits leap to it. It was about thirty minutes before dawn and there was a cloud bank rising up above the horizon. I stood there, cricking my neck for about ten minutes before my toes got too cold and I scurried back in. I saw three meteors! The second one was very impressive, the tail coloured like an Aurora Borealis. I’m not clever enough to take photographs of such things, so I cranked up my image editing software and created an “artist’s” impression of what I saw.
As I’m sure you are all bored of reading by now, the Perseids are a meteor shower caused by the Earth traveling through the debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Universe is one big ecosystem: it could be argued that we would not exist if it were not for comets. It is thought that water arrived on Earth from icy comets crashing into this old rock we call home. It is also most likely that a whacking great meteorite crashing into Mexico, causing sudden climate change, brought about the demise of the dinosaurs allowing us to evolve into the mammals we are today. Throughout history comets have been seen as portentous and are linked to significant events from King Arthur to the Nativity. They also feature in an excellent children’s book “Comet in Moominland” by Tove Jansson – still a good read for adults! I’m not ashamed to admit that I love those Moomins. Indeed the design for my rather natty hat was inspired by Snuffkin’s titfer (lesson one in Cockney Rhyming Slang: tit for tat = hat, shortened to “titfer”). Crikey, ‘aint this blog educational and I’m not even a Cockney!
Back down to earth, where you can spot things even on cloudy days; 1snowbird mentioned Indian Pipes. I’d never heard of them so did a bit of googling. They are also charmingly called Corpse Plants. We don’t have them in the UK, or anywhere else in Europe, but they sound fascinating. From what I can gather they parasitize fungi, which in turn parisitize trees. They don’t photosynthesize hence they do not need sunlight. It is a puzzle as to why they like dappled sunlit paths. 1snowbird, if you could post a photo and information on your blog then we could do a pingback or something? I’m a bit of a noob at this, so be kind …
Update: 1snowbird has posted a lovely photo of an Indian Pipe here.