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The Earth wobbles off its axis

Continuing to showcase a wealth of trivial knowledge

Can you see the North Star?
Can you see the North Star?

Dear Hipster:

Concerning your article about the North Star, the North Star is not exactly above our North Pole. It is about 1 degree off the true North Pole. You mention taking a time lapse photo of the region. Do that and you will see the North Star makes an arc around the North Pole. I will agree at that distance, when you look at it you will be looking as close to true north as you can. There is this thing called “precession.” The Earth wobbles on its axis, causing the north celestial pole to change, and the “north star,” with it. This precession takes 23,000 years. The precession is likened to a spinning top and the way the top wobbles. At the time of Christ, the north star was Thuban in the constellation Draco. In 12,000 years, the bright star Vega, in the constellation Lyra, will be the north star. At least then the north star will be very easy to spot — provided it does not dim in the meantime. Thus, “north star” is a relative term. If it is during the day, you can find north by pointing your right arm east (where the sun rises) and pointing your right arm west (where the sun sets), which will leave your body facing north. More trivia: the location of the North Star above the horizon equals the latitude you are at. Here in San Diego, 33-degrees north goes through Del Mar and Ramona, so the north star is approximately 33 degrees above the horizon here. As a side note, a portion of Bancroft Drive north of Highway 94 has longitude exactly 117 degrees running through it. I thought you — and your readers — would like to know these things. After all, your column is subtitled, “Advice You Didn’t Know You Needed.”

— Dale Dickerson, Rancho San Diego

Ordinarily, I hew pretty closely to the old “ask a simple question, get a useless answer” format, but who am I to deny Mr. Dickerson the chance to showcase his hipster wealth of trivial knowledge? Bravo. Way to honor the hipster tradition of prioritizing information you want to know over information you might need to know.

Dear Hipster:

Would it be a more hipster superpower to fly or be invisible?

— Kylie

Ah, yes, the question that supposedly reveals the supervillain hidden inside anyone who selects the latter option as a means of accomplishing sinister acts of theft and espionage, whereas heroic individuals select the former. But what would an invisible hipster stand to gain? He could no longer be seen about town. People might inadvertently step on his toes in crowded bars, wherein he would stand, perpetually unnoticed by the bartender, hopelessly trying to order a cocktail. The invisible hipster’s Instagram feed contains no selfies flattering, ironic, or otherwise. His potential dates swipe perpetually left, puzzled by the use of empty landscapes for profile pictures. Invisibility, the power of the secretive, would be ill-suited to the inherently social animal that is the hipster.

Flight isn’t much more useful, because what is the hipster going to use it for, flying to Coachella? Still have to wait for friends driving the van. Flying to the bar so you don’t drink and drive (or deal with parking)? Still have to wait for friends in the Uber. In truth, hipsters have no real use for either power, but at least flying doesn’t have the downside of perpetual, Three Dog Night-worthy loneliness.

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Can you see the North Star?
Can you see the North Star?

Dear Hipster:

Concerning your article about the North Star, the North Star is not exactly above our North Pole. It is about 1 degree off the true North Pole. You mention taking a time lapse photo of the region. Do that and you will see the North Star makes an arc around the North Pole. I will agree at that distance, when you look at it you will be looking as close to true north as you can. There is this thing called “precession.” The Earth wobbles on its axis, causing the north celestial pole to change, and the “north star,” with it. This precession takes 23,000 years. The precession is likened to a spinning top and the way the top wobbles. At the time of Christ, the north star was Thuban in the constellation Draco. In 12,000 years, the bright star Vega, in the constellation Lyra, will be the north star. At least then the north star will be very easy to spot — provided it does not dim in the meantime. Thus, “north star” is a relative term. If it is during the day, you can find north by pointing your right arm east (where the sun rises) and pointing your right arm west (where the sun sets), which will leave your body facing north. More trivia: the location of the North Star above the horizon equals the latitude you are at. Here in San Diego, 33-degrees north goes through Del Mar and Ramona, so the north star is approximately 33 degrees above the horizon here. As a side note, a portion of Bancroft Drive north of Highway 94 has longitude exactly 117 degrees running through it. I thought you — and your readers — would like to know these things. After all, your column is subtitled, “Advice You Didn’t Know You Needed.”

— Dale Dickerson, Rancho San Diego

Ordinarily, I hew pretty closely to the old “ask a simple question, get a useless answer” format, but who am I to deny Mr. Dickerson the chance to showcase his hipster wealth of trivial knowledge? Bravo. Way to honor the hipster tradition of prioritizing information you want to know over information you might need to know.

Dear Hipster:

Would it be a more hipster superpower to fly or be invisible?

— Kylie

Ah, yes, the question that supposedly reveals the supervillain hidden inside anyone who selects the latter option as a means of accomplishing sinister acts of theft and espionage, whereas heroic individuals select the former. But what would an invisible hipster stand to gain? He could no longer be seen about town. People might inadvertently step on his toes in crowded bars, wherein he would stand, perpetually unnoticed by the bartender, hopelessly trying to order a cocktail. The invisible hipster’s Instagram feed contains no selfies flattering, ironic, or otherwise. His potential dates swipe perpetually left, puzzled by the use of empty landscapes for profile pictures. Invisibility, the power of the secretive, would be ill-suited to the inherently social animal that is the hipster.

Flight isn’t much more useful, because what is the hipster going to use it for, flying to Coachella? Still have to wait for friends driving the van. Flying to the bar so you don’t drink and drive (or deal with parking)? Still have to wait for friends in the Uber. In truth, hipsters have no real use for either power, but at least flying doesn’t have the downside of perpetual, Three Dog Night-worthy loneliness.

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