Homer's Best Bets

  • Beach walkers stroll on the Homer Spit on Monday as the bear in Poot Peak looks over Kachemak Bay.-photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News

If the clouds clear, for the next month we’ll see all five bright planets clustered together. “Bright” here doesn’t mean planets that did really well on the SAT, but the ones visible with the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They’ll be spread out from east to west like pearls over Kachemak Bay.

You can catch the brights before sunrise, good news for we Alaskans. Even though we’re gaining daylight faster than we put on pounds over the holidays, we still commute to work in the dark. That means you can get up, walk the dog and be awed by the heavens, all before your morning cup of coffee. 

Meanwhile, 1,500 light years away, a star has been acting weird — well, something in front of the star. For some reason the star, KIC 8462852, keeps dimming about 20 percent. That means a) the star has a big ginormous dimmer switch or b) something really, really big orbits the star. The rational consensus seems to be a big swarm of comets, but then a scientist calculated how many comets that would be. The answer: a whole lot more than made sense. The other answer? Aliens.

With all those gazillions of stars in the universe, it’s possible other civilizations exist that might even be smarter than us. One hopes they don’t come visiting unless they’re a race of Buddhist monks. It doesn’t go well for primitive civilizations when more-advanced civilizations with bad manners visit.

One theory suggests that orbiting KIC 8462852 are Dyson swarms, named after the astrophysicist Freeman Dyson. His idea was that when a civilization needs more room, it builds new real estate by making artificial structures orbiting a sun. Those would block out the sun, hence explaining the dimming.

See? All of that in the big universe up in the sky. We live in a marvelous place just as weird and quirky as our own little backyard, which means there’s lots to do in this little town, like these Best Bets:

 

BEST READ ON BET: If you’re like the Betster, you have a big stack of books by your bed that, really, you’ll read one of these days. Make it a commitment with 15 in ’16, the Homer Public Library’s reading incentive, from 6-8 p.m. today at the library. Celebrate the 15 in 2015 you read last year and make up your list for this year — but hey, why not 16 in ’16?

 

BEST DON’T GET WET BET: That’s the idea of safe boating — staying out of the water. Get ready for the boating season with Alaska Water Wise, a class from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Homer Public Library. It’s free, but register by calling 907-269-8704.

 

BEST GET READY BET: You know what happens in February? That’s right: it’s when the seed catalogs start arriving. Get a start on the planting season with “Starting From Scratch,” this month’s Homer Garden Club program. Experts Carole Demers and Brigitte Suter share their secrets. The program is 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Best Western Bidarka Inn.

 

BEST GET OUT AND PLAY BET: Yeah, the snow might be marginal, but you can still get outdoors and enjoy this awesome wilderness we call home. From 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies holds Wynnter Fun Sundays at the Wynn Nature Center, Mile 2 East Skyline Drive. Snowshoe and sled, play outdoor games and walk the trails. There’s a bonfire with s’mores to warm you up.

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