Thursday 3 December 2015

Lights in the Sky.......

The bees are still nice and active on 1st Dec - it is very warm at 13ºC
At 20 past 8 on Sunday evening, a clear night with a near-full moon, I saw something I have never seen before, a streak of colour-changing flame shoot across the sky. It went west to east and from my perspective seemed to travel from roughly over Knock Airport, to over Frenchpark. It was faster than any aircraft and completely noiseless. It was flaming green to start with but the flames changed to bright red briefly before it winked out and was gone. It was over so fast that I realised that I had no reference point to help me know its height, distance or size. My most likely options were a meteor track (but I have only known meteors to be one colour (bright white/yellow) and always they are a sharply 'drawn' single streak; I have never known them with raggedy 'flame' shaped tails) and a firework, but you generally get a 'whoosh' noise with fireworks.

I had only seen it because I happened to be outside at that time 'patrolling' the dogs for a wee and a poo and had emerged from round the polytunnel looking that way. I was sure no-one else in the area would have been similarly placed and that my meteor would go unrecorded or doubted. It is perfectly possible that I have gone ga-ga out here with these crazy turkeys and bizarre Guinea Fowl and am now inventing alien abduction stories. Meep meep. Nanu nanu. Ah well, in for a penny, I posted about it on FaceBook and got the expected run of comments around whether I was "on the homebrew again" but then was delighted to hear that our friend Rob (he of the piglet catching adventures) had also seen it. He'd been looking out through a French door waiting for their St Bernard, 'Prada' to come back in from her pee/poo stroll in the garden. Then more and more people were commenting and it soon caught the attention of an Irish Astronomy group.

Others of my Facebook friends commented that they were sure meteors could 'do' colours and one (Thanks Pete P) found this spectrum of possible colours. My green may have come from magnesium and the reds from Nitrogen, Oxygen and Neon 'plasma' emissions. It seems that the colours depend on size, height and velocity of the burning object in the heat of atmospheric entry and can also go in phases with different components burning off as the temperature changes. Replies to the Astronomy group had it visible from Killiney, Dublin, Donegal, Mayo and Sligo so I suspect that our thinking it was a Knock/Frenchpark thing was just our low perspective. It was high enough to be seen by anyone across the Irish Midlands. It may also have been a chunk of space-debris returning to earth.

Ah well. They don't last for ever and this washing machine
was so old it didn't owe us anything. We bought it in Kent
we think at least ten, maybe 15 years ago. 
Amusingly, I had just finished posting my witty comments about alien invasions and how the cats are outside so they would deal with it, shut down the computer and gone to bed when all hell broke loose - dogs running around barking, cats yowling. Aliens? Well, one alien anyway, after a fashion. Local wandering stray dog, Bobby had chosen this evening to pay us one of his visits and our dogs had detected him wandering in circles round the house and yard. Regular readers will know that this collie (see 24th Feb 2015 post) is a sweet, painless lad with not an ounce of malice in him who will stroll happily between the chickens and past the sheep with no intent to kill or chase.

Goldie still has plenty of grass. 
Our problem is that the sheep do not know this and to them he is a strange dog, so he can set them panicking and running about which is not ideal if they are pregnant. Not ideal anyway - they can still hurt themselves running at fences or trying to jump over the barbed wire. So we were back on the phone - we have the guy's number by now and we are on first name terms. He apologises profusely and zooms round in his 4x4 to collect the dog who by then I have 'at heel' down at the front gate. I am in my dressing gown and fleece jacket with a head-torch on. The dog's brother apparently has no such wanderlust and stays at home. It is only Bobby who strolls off across the bog-land and pops up either here or at another house just along the ridge top.

Looking promising for Christmas. Polytunnel spuds.
Meanwhile I have almost finished harvesting outdoor spuds and decided to go into the polytunnel and try an exploratory dig. I was delighted to find that the Sarpo Mira planted in there in August are now 'done' - lovely big, mainly clean tubers devoid of any slug or other damage. I do love a baking potato so tonight I tried them as jacket-spuds with beans and a bit of left over belly pork. Lovely and very promising for Christmas. My pic shows 1.9 kg hauled from the first plant (plus a little white 'British Queen' volunteer). Plenty more in the ground. Superb.

Good night then - watch out for UFOs. You never know.......

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