Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sidereal Time

Since I wrote this in 2003, on the war in Iraq, the ground hasn't stabilized; we've just gotten better at balancing ourselves. I don't want to be too dreary though. I'm stronger now and I think a lot of people are bouncing back and really doing good things.

Sidereal Time

Sometimes I get attracted to a word because it’s odd. I like the sound of it or I don’t know the sound of it or I can’t quite pronounce it or understand it so I struggle with it. That’s how it is with the word “sidereal”. Pronounce it sid (like the name Sid) eerie and all (all eerie reversed). Sidereal contains the word “real” like in surreal or ethereal and the sound of the whole word is like a mood of fluidity that I like to be in.

I want a good definition so I look on the Internet first. Among the definitions I find, the one I’m first drawn to is the second one from WordNet 1.6, Princeton University;
adj 2: (of divisions of time) determined by the daily motions of the stars; “sidereal time”.

It’s so simple--the idea that we tell time in synchrony with the stars. It helps me breathe. I can open myself to the universe and feel it. It would be so freeing if I just let myself go into sidereal time and just lived in synchrony with the stars.

But my breath hesitates as I look further. In Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 1948 Thin Paper Edition and the American Heritage Dictionary, the second definitions are all very similar. They go like this;
2. (Astron) Measuring by the apparent motion of the stars; designated, marked out or accompanied by a return to the same position in respect to the stars; as, the sidereal revolution of a planet; a sidereal day.

The word “apparent” rattles my desire for a blissful meaning for this word that rolls off my tongue so effortlessly. Apparent can mean: obvious, readily seen; like we think the stars are. But apparent can also mean: appearing as such but not necessarily so. That’s what it means in most of the definitions of sidereal. The motion of the stars is only in relation to where we are standing. If we stay in one point a sidereal day will pass but only if we stay on that one point. If we move, our sidereal day is a different day. Sidereal time is relative to where we are. So I am uncomfortable; disillusioned with what I want this word to be.

It is like this “war.” To some, including George Bush, we are dealing with certainties. To them it was apparent. and obvious that Saddam Hussein was evil. Killing him was supposed to solve everything. But George Bush only stands in one place. To most of us it is the other apparent that we are dealing with. Many things appear one way but are not necessarily so. What we see is relative to where we stand. I look from many places and see many different perspectives. What are the real reasons we are doing this? I, like everyone else, want the stars to be fixed in the sky and move consistently but they don’t. They look different in Iraq than they do here. I’m on shaky ground and I’m not sure where the focal point I need is. Are we fighting for oil and world dominance over the oil economy--a dollar based oil economy vs. one based on the euro? Or are we fighting to assure dominance over the Arab world and thus assuring ourselves of many things. There are so many hints of what it could be. For every little move I make, reality shifts.

I want sidereal time to be a real time not a surreal or ethereal time. I want the motion of the stars to be steady and consistent. I want them to be something I can count on yet the sidereal time that is our time is the apparent time. It is the time that is relative to where we stand. But where do we really stand? What is the real time?

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