Blog archive February 2009
i've written before about a childhood astronomy book that mentioned the 1999 total solar eclipse, and how i came to be there, and what it meant. but the book was long gone, and i couldn't even remember the details. however, something triggered a hunch while i was at my mother's house over christmas, and i scored a copy on amazon for 1p. there was no picture so i didn't even know if i had guessed right until it arrived.
so the book is here. and yes the eclipse page is here, and the diagram which inspired the tattoo - although i'd misremembered it all these years, because the path of the 1999 eclipse isn't on the diagram, only in the text. but still it had its effect ;)
but then there's the other stuff that stayed with me. i never forgot the pages about precession, and how the constellations slowly change. this introduced me to what would one day be called 'the long now', and both pages are referenced [entirely from childhood memory] in the slow meditation of 2004. the diagram of the south circumpolar constellations caused a lifelong fascination with the stars i could never see, which was finally fulfilled when i stood a midnight hour on umina beach in 2005 drinking in the sight i had long dreamed of, fixing it in my mind. it's a photograph i wished i could have taken.
life impacts aside, i still think it's the nicest small astronomy book i've ever seen, for quality of ideas and design. not dry, but not superficial either. it certainly sparked this child's imagination. of course the pages about the moon and planets are fascinatingly dated, being based only on observation from earth. maybe they should fix it and reprint it.
excerpts from my journey to work yesterday, and the last quarter is scenes on the riverbank outside tate modern at lunchtime. i can't remember ever seeing st pauls with snow on before. the millennium bridge was unpleasantly slippery so i turned back.
still plenty of snow around today, but not quite as pretty anymore.
apparently this last happened in 1991. there was a barely suppressed party atmosphere yesterday - ambitious snowmen being constructed everywhere, snowball fights galore. it was hard to concentrate on work, i was emailing our moscow office with photos of the view from my desk [they are having -20 to -25C!], and the office closed early at 4.30pm to help everyone get home safely [only about a quarter actually made it in].
6-10 inches overnight and it's still falling. i made it into work, though it took two hours. somehow there's always just enough transport available to oblige you to keep going - never quite a solid excuse to stay at home. even so i was stuck on a train five minutes from paddington for half an hour due to points failure. i filmed the journey in - i don't expect to see this again, or not for a while. the last time i remember so much snow in central london was in about 1988 or 89 before the warming trend really kicked in.
i suspect jonny baker has been out on ealing common taking photos ;)