It is January again – that bleak, nothingy month filled with post New Year blues, coldness without the Christmas cosiness, and an unnecessary lack of daylight hours. I’m currently more apt to be pessimistic about everything, after struggling to get out of bed as the flat is too cold and already having commitment issues with my New Year resolutions.
January is a bit of an irrelevant month (sorry to all those with birthdays now); it’s just one month closer to the ever disappointment of valentine’s day and even the impending hope of bulbs blooming and Easter chocolate galore seems far, far away when walking to a 9am in five layers of jumpers. To bring some cheer to this dreary month, here is a collection of five happy, upbeat news stories, to turn your frown upside down…
On social media, videos of an unusual bus have captured viewers’ hearts. The videos show a bus driver stopping to pick up passengers before strapping them in and going on an adventure. The unusualness? All the passengers are dogs. The adorable puppy bus is simply a way to make a living for the dog walkers of Mo Mountain Mutts in Alaska. The business consists of dog walking, dog training and, since their videos have gone viral, influencing; they have generated a serious following, with 1.5 million followers on TikTok (mo_mountain_mutts). “I look in the rearview mirror of the bus as I’m driving sometimes” Mo has said, “And I see all the dogs back there. And I can’t believe we do this for a living.”
The environment has seen some good news this week, leading to a speck of hope amongst the usual suffering of environmental news in relation to climate change and general human degradation. According to the UN, the earth’s Ozone layer will be fixed by 2066, with most parts fixed in two decades. The Ozone layer is a layer around the earth that absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet rays and protects the earth; high levels of UV can enhance skin cancer in humans, destroy ecosystems, and warm the earth. When it was discovered decades ago that the Ozone layer had a hole in it, fast action was taken to ban chlorofluorocarbons, which were largely responsible for this issue. This was a task taken on worldwide, in international togetherness that leads to hope of this happening again. The UN predicted that this action may have stopped 0.5 degrees C of global warming by 2100.
I should be so lucky
It’s been a lucky week for some, with a man who spent his life trying to help others find homes finally winning a house of his own in the Omaze Million Pound House Draw. Grant Carson has worked at a charity helping disabled people in Glasgow for almost three decades and now, with the bonus winning money, can finally get the dog he always wanted. Even better, the money from Omaze was raised to support the Dogs Trust, the biggest dog’s welfare charity in the UK. Meanwhile, a man from the Wisconsin town of Luck won $15.1 million after buying a ‘megabucks’ lottery ticket. Puns can be happy.
Although the sun is setting at around 4.30pm most days, this darkness is not all doom and gloom. This month, C/2022 E3 can be seen. This may sound like just a jumble of letters and numbers, but it is in fact a comet that will be at its closest to the earth in late January to early February. With an orbital period of 50,000 years, this has not been seen since the Stone Age and so some describe it as a once in a lifetime experience! The comet is gradually brightening and should be able to be seen with binoculars, or possibly even with the naked eye if you know where to look and aren’t affected by light pollution (although it might just look like a blurry smudge). It may be the only comet to see with the naked eye this year, hopefully reaching higher than sixth magnitude in brightness. If you know your stars, you should be able to find it in relation to other parts of the night sky; near the end of January, it will pass nearby to Polaris, the North Star, and in Early February it is predicted to be close to Capella, the sixth brightest star, then to Mars, and then to Hyades star cluster a few days later.
And some final good news for St Andrews… At last check the Met Office predictions suggest that the coming week, although rather grey, often has less than 10 percent chance of rain, with potential sporadic periods of sunshine. So it’s not all bad.