What Are Your New Year Resolutions? – Astronomicca & Vinkelmule

Text: Majken Christensen (Astronomicca)
Illustration: Marlene Jørgensen (Vinkelmule)

This is Konrad Fetti.

Konrad is a very special kind of alien that you can observe only once a year, namely around December 31 and January 1. This rare observation is remarkable because he lives somewhere in our Solar System. Sadly, we can’t share his exact location for security reasons.

These days many of us are preparing for New Years. Whether you plan to jump into the new year with a big celebration or if you keep it low, it is inevitable that a new year lies ahead of us. A new January, a new February, new holidays, and all the days and weeks that we feel like we know so well, because we seem to go through them once every 12 months.

A new year starts here on Earth when we have orbited once around the Sun. After 12 months we start a new orbit around the same Sun. We repeat a cycle that we know so well. But one special someone doesn’t share that perception with us. And that someone is Konrad.

Galactic New Year

Konrad celebrates only once every 250 million years. When he starts a new cycle, we have already celebrated 250 million new year’s eves. The reason is that he celebrates when our Solar System has made one orbit around the center of our galaxy. If you feel like this information gave you a minor brain explosion, then let’s dwell a bit on it.

Much like the Earth orbits the Sun, the Sun (and all its planets) orbits the galaxy. Our galaxy is called the Milky Way, and it consists of billions of stars. The entire galaxy is rotating around a central black hole, similar to how water rotates near the drain of a bathtub. One galactic rotation, one orbit, takes 250 million years. So, once every 250 million years we are back to where we started, relative to the central black hole.

(…continues below the photo…)

The Milky Way.
Illustration by: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech).

We celebrate New Year’s Eve every 12 months, because of how we experience the light and the weather here on Earth. When we have undergone the 4 seasons, we celebrate and start over. But from the Universe’s point of view, there is no special reason to celebrate one orbit around the Sun. We could have chosen to celebrate when we orbit the central black hole, albeit it would be a very rare occasion and perhaps a bit boring.

New Year Resolutions

Anyway, let’s get back to Konrad. If he only celebrates so rarely, why is he wearing not one, not two, but three hats and looking like someone who is ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve here on Earth? The answer is simple.

It’s because our New Year celebration is a feast for him. He LOVES this time of year, because he can fill his belly and stock up on food for the time ahead. But if you think he eats left-overs from Christmas, you’re wrong. He doesn’t. He eats something very different.

Konrad feasts on our failed New Year resolutions. This is where he gets his calories and energy to survive the next 12 months.

The Successful Failure

When many of us review our life and reflect on which changes we want in the coming year, we hopefully and committed want to be more present, spend more time with loved ones, eat more healthy, go for a run, maybe learn how to do the electro swing, join a fitness club or get a promotion at work. A plethora of great intentions are boiled down to actionable bullets that will guide our ambitions to reach a higher level of being.

However, the harsh reality shows only how no ambition is resilient to laziness, and only a few days into January we can slowly start to erase some of those resolutions. We know deep within ourselves that we don’t really want to go to the gym and we build towers with excuses for not going for a run. And that’s not only okay, it’s actually excellent. Because these failed resolutions are what keeps Konrad alive.

Konrad’s body can not digest successful resolutions. He can not live off of the bullets we happily can tick off when the year has passed. But he most definitely can eat all the failed ones. All the ambitions that were never realized. All the intentions that we never implemented in reality. It fills him up and gives him energy to live another year somewhere in our Solar System.

So, if you are sitting with pen and paper, ready to scribble down those resolutions, and you’re wondering if it’s best not to, because you worry about failure, we’re here to tell you: Do it anyway! Write them down. Have ambitions and good intentions. Make plans and bullets. Because even if they remain an uncrossed bullet, to Konrad they will be a buffet of all his favorite food.

Happy New Year!