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New Year meteor shower

Mark the beginning of the year in space
 
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There ought to be something in space to mark the whole of the civilized world ringing in the new year, rejoicing the death of the old one, making new resolutions (sure to be broken before long) and drinking themselves silly over the passage of an arbitrary point in time. When you think of it, the only thing significant about the New Year is that the earth comes back to the same point in space with relation to the sun and the stars. At present nothing significant marks this particular point in space.

I propose to mark this point in space.

You cannot just paint space. If you put a milestone there to mark the New Year, it will obey the dictates of gravity and plunge into the sun. To put something there to mark that point, it will have to be moving round the sun with the same orbital period as the earth. If we place something into orbit around the sun with exactly the same orbital period as the earth, and adjust the eccentricity and inclination such that this orbit (nearly) intersects that of the earth once per year, at the night of December 31st we will have that milestone.

Now the passage of even a large asteroid (earth grazer) is definitely not a great visual spectacle. It would require a very sophisticated setup even to glimpse that milestone we have so laboriously put up to mark the New Year. If the planes of orbits are different (as it will have to be) the relative velocity between earth and that milestone will be too large for us to see it and rejoice in its passage.

Hence we mark the New Year with a large dust cloud.

Go to the moon. Find a region with a large amount of fine dust. Load it up into a launcher. Maybe dope it with small amounts of metals used for coloured fireworks (barium, strontium etc). Launch the stuff into that milestone orbit. By dint of <mumble, mumble> we return the heavy launcher and carrier rockets to the moon while placing that load of dust in a diffuse cloud in a yearlong orbit around the sun.

Each year, around Christmas, we will be able to watch that cloud come closer to us, a sort of man-made comet. Star of Bethlehem! And during New Year's Eve, the earth will enter the dust cloud and a portion of that will enter the atmosphere and burn up as meteors. One such launch should be good for several years. Sssh . . . we shall ignore, for the present, the effect on all those satellites we have laboriously put up. (Sha - zam! magic umbrella over the whole lot.)

Fellow halfbakers! I present you the New Year Meteor Shower.

neelandan, Dec 31 2002

Munchkins for Meteors http://www.halfbake...ins_20for_20Meteors
a related idea [krelnik, Oct 04 2004]

[link]






       Do we do the same for all the other New Year's that are celebrated on the planet?
PeterSilly, Dec 31 2002
  

       I’ve never heard of the Sleepygrass meteor shower.
Shz, Dec 31 2002
  

       Note that you don't need a special timed orbit, you can just fill the entire orbit with debris; that way we get a meteor shower every time the Earth's orbit crosses it, which will always be on the same date.   

       This is how actual meteor showers work, after all. As waugs notes, there's already one around now, though it's not quite as spectacular as one might like to ring in the New Year. Maybe you could work on beefing it up.
egnor, Dec 31 2002
  

       Egnor: the special timed orbit will have the added advantage of presenting a Christmas Star.
neelandan, Dec 31 2002
  

       Can we spray paint 'Happy New Year!' in a dozen languages on it's earth-showing side?
RayfordSteele, Dec 31 2002
  
      
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