Thursday, December 28, 2017

What goes up vs what comes down

This past weekend was action-packed, so to speak, of objects making the upward or downward trip to and from space.

First, the upward trip:

On Friday, Dec. 22, the southwest United States enjoyed the launch of a Falcon 9 two-stage rocket. The twilight was perfect for illuminating the exhaust plume. From my vantage point, the event lasted about 5 minutes, from seeing the rising glow in the north until the rocket disappeared behind mountains to the west. This was enough time for neighbors to alert each other and run into the street and for friends to start texting. It was enough time for me to correct my original poor choice of camera location , run downstairs and across the street barefoot, dodge one car, and get numerous shots.

Falcon 9 launch viewed from in front of my home:

Moon, stage 2, with stage 1 falling away:

 A second burn from stage 1 occurred a second after the first:

And now the downward trip:

On Christmas Eve, at 5:15pm, I saw an amazing fireball, or bollide. Like the Falcon 9 launch, the event lasted a long time, that is, long for a meteor. I was parked and about to exit my car when I saw it. I had time to contemplate grabbing my camera, and chose not to. As a result, I saw a colorful break-up and burn that reminded me of a newspaper bursting into flame and being sucked up the chimney in fragments. My wife and daughter also saw it from about 5 miles away from my location. They also reported a red color to the burn.

However, my friend Andy Abeles from the Temecula Valley Astronomers, captured it from his dash camera. The full burn is cut off by the mountains, and I think most of what I saw is where it goes behind the mountain in this video.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Wildomar Fire vis-a-vis the proposed LEAPS project's transmission line.

Many of us in Wildomar and surrounding communities are rightfully giving thanks to CalFire and those fighting the fire at the front lines and from within the organization. We're also giving thanks to the tax base that makes such a response possible, but we should also remember that 10 years ago many local activists stood up to what was apparently a ploy by a small corporation to establish a transmission line for private gain. Activists like Bridgette MooreJohn LloydKristan Lloyd, to name a few that I'm still connected with, were able to win a local election and expose the flawed plans of the chief enabler of the LEAPS project. 

Also, our work halting the transmission line would not have been possible without Federal and State laws (NEPA and CEQA) that require environmental impact reports. Surprisingly, the backers of the transmission line have not given up, and have recently resubmitted their application. So, the fight continues. 

My compilation photo shows a plane last night dropping fire retardant. Also in the photo is my simulation of the proposed transmission line. I dug this file up this morning. I had last labeled it "work-in-progress" so I still need to verify the vertical placement of the towers, but I'm confident of the locations where I placed them. (Update: I'll stand by this simulated view. My placement of towers and simulated view is good.)


Friday, August 18, 2017

I can afford only a partial eclipse

The total eclipse is occurring for those willing to live in or travel to a 70-mile wide-band across the United States. I fear the desperate behavior that afflicts crowds, so I never made plans to attend. Astronomy offers my opportunity to relax, get away from bustle, and I can enjoy it any time. Though a total eclipse would leave me saying, "why didn't I do this before", I'm content to stay local and help others see the partial eclipse.

If you want to see the partial eclipse, come to Wildomar's Marna O'Brien park on Monday, Aug. 21, 9-11 am. If you have any doubt about the quality of your eclipse glasses, please attend and look through my safely filtered telescopes instead of dubious glasses. My solar filters are professional grade, and I've looked through them many times.

I hope to see you on Monday. Look for me and say hello. I'll be the frazzled guy trying to keep his sanity during the excitement.


Marna O'Brien Park:
20505 Palomar Road,
Wildomar, CA

Friday, July 21, 2017

Best ever circumzenithal arc,...

Best ever circum-zenithal arc and my worst camera met on the early evening of July 19, 2017. I drove to Riverside, and on the way, I became interested in the clouds and dispersal of a contrail. It looked like the conditions were right for hole punch clouds. I couldn't take any pictures, because I was driving.

Two hours later I emerged from a building and the sky over head smiled with the brightest and most long lasting arc I'd ever seen. I took numerous pictures with my aim-and-shoot camera and my iPhone. Neither of these devices captures the full color range of bright cloud effects.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Comet Johnson

This weekend, I took a few photos of Comet Johnson. These were 3-minute exposures using a 76mm refractor at prime focus. My camera was set at 800 iso. The comet is pretty faint. I couldn't see it in my 50 mm finderscope. I dabbled in different color balance treatments in Photoshop. 





Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Skeptical Science Projects

I'm a contributor to the website Skeptical Science. Mostly I help with illustrations and when I do, I usually share the projects here. However, I've been forgetting to share lately, so this post catches up on recent projects.

This is an illustration from a post entitled A Deep Dive into Polar Ice Cores:

I had a minor confusion corrected by this post. I thought the diffusion process primarily upward when the air in snow is squeezed by the weight of more snow. Though this happens, it's not as pronounced as the diffusion between air and snow that occurs. This post was part of a new idea of answering questions posed the site from readers.

Skeptical Science also started a new project of science analogies that provide experiments or observations one can make to understand the climate system. These diagrams are from two analogies:

SkS Analogy 3: Greenhouse Effect Is Like Clouds at Night

I'm having a private Ferrari vs VW thing going.


UPDATE: Some recent links to publications that mention Skeptical Science:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Lyrid, Meteor of the Century (again)

Smoke and Meteors:

I captured a Lyrid meteor last night, shooting 30-second exposures between 11:20 and 11:50 pm. I caught two meteors in this time, but one made it easy to quit for the night.

I didn't see the meteor, and noticed it only when examining my photo on the camera view screen. On a whim, I took a second exposure and noticed that the vapor trail was visible:

"This is interesting," I thought, so I tried to see how long the vapor trail would remain visible:

After about 5 minutes, the vapor trail drifted off of my field of view. I moved the camera twice before the trail was gone, and even captured a faint, second meteor next to the vapor trail. You will probably have to enlarge the image to see the 2nd meteor near the star cluster (Coma Berenices) in the top of this photo.

The last image I captured was very faint, so I boldy tweaked the contrast:

I also made a video of my images, but think just viewing the still photos in sequence is more effective: