Thursday, December 22, 2011

Press Enterprise Editorial on Global Warming

This topic is for anyone who accepts the invitation I posted at this article:

The article repeats some common errors regarding climate science. I don't wish to argue policy, as I'm not trying to assert a specfic policy toward addressing global warming; rather, I'm interested in the science and sharing what I've learned of the science.

UPDATE: As expected, none of the commenters took me up on my invitation to learn more about the climate science they were disparaging, which is not surprising. It's easier to state their opinions where they don't have to defend their sources or explain their reasoning (or lack of). The pleasant side of these misinformed opinions, like the Press Enterprise editorial above, is that they provide fodder for my astronomy presentations. Not only does the science have intrinsic value, but is also helpful to counter the propoganda and foolishness of many editorials on climate policy.

For example, a recent opinion published in the Califorian (Cult of Global Warming Losing Influence) makes this statement:
If carbon emissions were the only thing affecting climate, the global warming alarmists would be right. But it's obvious that climate is affected by many things, many not yet fully understood, and implausible that SUVs will affect it more than variations in the enormous energy produced by the sun.

I added the bold text to the astronomy angle. I'll be looking at the variations of the sun in my next presentation to the Temecula Valley Astronomers.
  • Location: Rancho Water District building, 42135 Winchester Rd., Temecula
  • Date/Time: 7:30 PM Monday, January 2, 2012
UPDATE 30 Dec 2011: My letter to the Press Enterprise was published:

Letters 12/30
Letters 12/29 (Others' responses)

The editor cut some prose and removed an "or" that was indespensible to the tone of my letter. Here's the letter I meant for publication with omitted parts in bold:
Your 21 December 2011 editorial makes false accusations against climate scientists and then says that these scientist need to work on improving their reputation. The false accusation you make is "The purloined emails of leading climate scientists have shown them manipulating data and suppressing contradictory evidence". Some emails, when removed from their context, look incriminating, and so the following organizations have examined them as well as the research these scientists have contributed to: Pennsylvania State University, University of East Anglia, US Environmental Protection Agency, UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Department of Commerce Inspector General, and the US National Science Foundation.

None have found any wrong doing in the public climate science reports, which creates two possibilities: 1) the climate conspiracy includes major universities, the US and UK governments, and the National Science Foundation or [omitted] 2) as said by the National Science Foundation, there has been "no research misconduct or other matter raised by the various regulations and laws ".

It's the Press Enterprise vs. the National Science Foundation on climate. One of you has a credibility problem.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Light Trespass Is Now a No-No in Riverside County

Thank you, Bob Buster, John Tavaglione, Jon Benoit for your 3-0 vote passing ordinance 915 regulating light trespass. By passing this ordinance, the County now requires aim in outdoor lighting. Light trespass results from bad aim, and aiming a light is one of the easier concepts for people to understand if they are aware of the need. The right to bad aim has never been an American virtue, however, many will defend their laziness in the implementation of outdoor lighting, calling it a basic right, or this ordinance, an over-reach by the County.

I write this less that 24 hours after the ordinance's passage, and already I've received a question as to when it can be applied by a person who has endured a neighbor's bare bulb security lights and is now eager to correct the problem.

There is no reason for common security and area lighting to extend beyond one's property, and the passage of this ordinance, avoiding light trespass will become a design standard in building construction.

Local articles on ordinance 915:
Californian, 12/21/11 (older articles in the Californian: Californian 11/22/11, Californian, 11/15/11, Californian 10/25/11)

Lake Elsinore/Wildomar Patch, 12/21/11

Press Enterprise, 12/21/11

KPSP Local 2 News Services, 12/20/11

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Solar's Up

As part of the 11-year cyle, sunspot activity is picking up. There have been sunspots everytime I've looked in the past three months. This image above combines two shots at the lowest and highest magnification I can effectively photograph at. Both are taken with a whitelight filter (a silvered mylar sheet) and I restored yellow color in photoshop. Not only can you see sunspots, but faculae too (brighter areas where magnetic forces gouge the outer layer - as though scraping an apple- revealing hotter and brighter layers). This is part of my next project: a presentation on the sun to my astronomy club on Jan 2.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lunar Eclipse, Dec 10, 2011: Total cooperation of weather and horizon

The weather cooperated and my sliver-sized view of the horizon was ideally placed on the morning of Dec. 10, 2011 to give me an excellent view of the lunar eclipse. From my location, the moon set while totally eclipsed. Consequently, the sun rose as the eclipsed moon set.

Above: Field of view looking west. This photo was taken after the eclipse
and after moonset to show my well-paced field of view.

Above: Partially eclipsed moon photographed at 5:52 PST.
At this time, the pending sunrise was not yet evident.

Above: 6:00 PST and the moon is nearly eclipsed.
A few tree twigs cloud the picture.

The eclipsed moon at 6:10 PST.

Above: (6:23 AM) The fully eclipsed moon as dawn washed it out of the sky.
Though visible in the photograph, at this point is was invisible to the naked eye.

The first photo was taken with a digital SLR camera with an 18 mm lens. All other photos were taken with a 3-inch refactor at prime focus.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Clouds lately

I continue my fascination for weather and clouds. Here are photos from the morning and evening of one day.

Morning: sunrise through the fog:

Evening: Anticrepuscular rays (shadows cast by the setting sun converging in the east):


Monday, November 7, 2011

Californian cover recent star party

The Californian did a fine job covering a recent star party held by my astronomy club, The Temecula Valley Astronomers:

Students Look to the Stars

I differ with the reporter's estimate of 150 people attending. The 150 was based on the PTA's handing out of 150 glow sticks to children. Assuming a few students got more than one, and that the typical family was one or two children with at least one parent, I think 175 was a more likely number.

The following night, we held a star party for a scout troop, which brought in about 50 people.

And the following Tuesday we held another star party, which was attended by at least 100 persons -- this estimate based on the number or chairs set up and filled for the indoor part of the star party.

Then I should add that last weekend I assisted with the Forest Services Explore the Stars program. I guess we had 100 people.

I share these numbers as a reminder that many people enjoy the night sky and many will support policies that protect it.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Riverside County Light Trespass Ordinance 915, a boon for property rights

For people who may be searching the web in regard to the Riverside Board of Supervisors introduction of ordinance 915 regulating light pollution (or more accurately light trespass), here are a few stories and the text of the ordinance. I will be commenting on this in the next couple weeks.

Ordinance 915

Californian: 26 Oct 2011

Press Enterprise: 26 Oct 2011

Valley News: 26 Oct 2011

ABC news

Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch: "county-cracks-down-on-shining-too-brightly"



Monday, October 3, 2011

What's up for October 2011

My astronomy club has assisted in the creation of astronomy clubs at some of our local schools, and we also are helping out by presenting to these clubs at their monthly meetings. I'm adapting my What's Up (in the sky) presentations for these astronomy clubs. What's good for students is probably even better for adults.

I post my What's Up presentations on my website here: What's Up

I have not always kept up this section, but I now have additional pressure to get my What's Up presentations onto my website where they can be shown to these clubs.

Below are a few star maps from the presentation that I shared with students. New ones will be available in November.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Climate Science Timeline

I've had the opportunity to contribute to a couple recent posts on

Modern scientists, following in Galileo's footsteps addresses the tactic of many climate change denialists to compare themselves to Galilieo. I drew a timeline for that post, and here I'm sharing an earlier version that we decided was too detailed and did not use in the post. This one was drawn to the constraint of their page format, and it is my plan to lengthen and embellish it. I'm sharing it for those who may wish to use it as is and welcome suggestions.

The Last Interglacial Part Four - Oceanic Influences continues the discussion of the Eemian Interglacial, which was 125k years ago when global temperatures reached a degree or two warmer than the pre-industrial Holocene. If one accepts James Hansen's estimate that the Eemian was 1 degree C warmer than the pre-industrial Holocene, then we're 3/4s the way to another Eemian with its 5-9 meter higher sea levels. I contributed the ocean circulation maps used the post.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Flock of lights over Wildomar and Lake Elsinore

Megan reports observing fascinating patterns of lights over Wildomar at 8:00 pm last night (Friday, 30 Sept 2011). Her words:
We we're coming home from Temecula around 8pm, and at 1st thought, it was night skydiving but it wasn't. These lights looked as bright as stars in a long string. I don't know how else to describe it. They constantly changed shapes from long, to stretched out, to a ball, to all kinds of random formations. The lights we're long an a lot. I don't know how to describe the length and how they moved. The length was at least a mile long, easily, but formed into random shapes, went high in the sky, moved low, moved left, right. Nothing like this, I had ever seen. And it moved so gracefully. It was amazing whatever it was.
I have no idea what Megan saw, but I have observed similar motions from sky divers using lights, and I've observed the flocks of birds making extraordinary patterns in the sky. I offer no explanation, but have one relevent observation.

Skylark airport had a lot of skydiving activity Friday night. Skydiving is pretty routine, so I rarely photograph it, but I was impressed by the dispersal and diversity of motions of jumpers at 6:15 pm when I was outside, that I snapped a few photos, such as this one:

You can see their plane in the top middle, a chute in the center, and two in the bottom left doing their final spirals to the ground (click the picture to enlarge it).

What was I doing outside? Last night offered some stunning crepuscular rays and irridescent clouds:

Crepuscuar Rays

Irridescent clouds, showing purple, orange, and green colors

I welcome the observations of others, but please note that I won't be able to post comments promptly today.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My long lost clouds and weather photos

Since about 2008 I've been sending photos I've taken of clouds and weather to a local weather website called Weathercurrents. These photos appear for a week or more before being replaced by new ones. Due to my haphazard organizational skills, I figured most of my photos were lost to the ether. Recently, Weathercurrents added a page of all the photos they've received. It was pleasant to rediscover many photos that I have forgotten.

The photos from me and other contributors are here:


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Energy Inputs

I recently contributed to a post on Skeptical Science, illustrating the following analogy used to describe energy inputs into Earth's climate system. The metaphor was the creation of the post's author, who writes under the name Andy S. I merely portrayed his concept, and I think his metaphor ably compares the relative magnitudes of energy sources that affect the climate system.

For the entire article, see Skeptical Science: Heatflow

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Temecula Valley Astromers host Dr. Marc Rayman of the Dawn Probe Project

The Temecula Valley Astronomers are sponsoring a special presentation by Dr Marc Rayman of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who leads the ongoing Dawn Probe project which currently is orbiting and studying the asteroid Vesta. This will be an excellent opportunity to participate firsthand in a discussion involving one of our country's most ambitious and successful space related efforts.

As with all general meetings of the Temecula Valley Astronomers, this event is free and open to the public.

Monday, 10/3/11

7:30pm to 9pm

Rancho California Water District Boardroom

42175 Winchester Road, Temecula CA 92590

Monday, September 26, 2011

Comet Garradd ( C/2009 P1)

Comet Garradd is visible, though I would say barely visible to me. Here is a 3-minute expose at f6.3 onto a digital SLR camera at 800 ISO.

I photographed this at Explore the Stars, a monthly star party sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and held at Observatory Campground in the Cleveland National Forest. More information about this event, see this link: Explore the Stars.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Meteor over Joshua Tree

I photographed this meteor while camping in Joshua Tree National Park on the weekend of 9/3/11:

I was trying to capture how much light from Palm Springs and neighboring cities pollutes the southern sky of Joshua Tree National Park. Quite a lot, as shown by this 50-second exposure. (Joshua Trees are the tree-sized yuccas, shown here, that give the park it's name.)


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eemian Globe

I've created a rotating globe modelled after the Eemian interglacial, ~125,000 years ago.


I've been using this model to illustrate a series of posts by Steve Brown on Skeptical Science:

My goal was to portray a plausible shape to the Eemian sea, which cut Scandinavia off from the mainland. While at it, I erased part of Florida (in case Eemian sea level reached the high estimate of 9 meters over current) and much of the deltas next to major rivers. Like all my projects, this is a work-in-progress and I invite comments and corrections.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Circumhorizon Arc

My first circumhorizon arc:


I saw this at noon on Sunday, 8/21/11. The noon sighting is consistent with the description of this phenomena on Atmospheric Optics:
  • colorful ice halo from cirrus clouds refracting the overhead sun
  • location parallel to and near the horizon


Friday, August 5, 2011

Star Party at Lake Skinner County Park, Saturday, 6 Aug. 2011

The Lake Skinner County Park is hosting a public star party. It is free, but you need to arrive after 7:00 pm when the normal entrance fee will be waived for this event only.  The star party is that the Park's amphitheater. A show begins at 8:00 pm and observing through the telescopes of the Temecula Valley Astronomers begins after the show at 8:30 (or earlier) and continues till 10:30 pm.

Primary targets will be the 1st quarter moon and Saturn and various star clusters of the summer Milky Way.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Supernova update

Last weekend I had a chance to revisit the supernova in M51. I took a few photos before clouds obscured the view. Here is M51 with supernova marked by the arrow:

This is a very noisy image. It's a 5-minute exposure at f6.3 and 1600 ISO. I'm a little surprised that the supernova remains as bright as it is and that I recorded it this well in a single exposure through a 3-inch telescope.

I had planned to take several images and try stacking them, but I forgot to tighten the axis clamps on my mount, so this was the only picture that didn't have significant streiks for stars.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

A star blew up 37 million years ago, and we just noticed

The amateur astronomy community is somewhat aglow over the opportunity to see and photograph a supernova in the galaxy M51:

Galaxy M51

The little dot marked by the arrow in the second photo is the supernova. I took this photo using a Canon Digital Rebel SLR attached to my 8" schmidt-cassigrain telescope reduced to an F6.3 focal ratio. The photo is a 5-minute exposure at 1600 ISO, and the camera is a bit noisy at this speed. I did not guide the photo, hence, you'll see slight elongation of the stars.

Better photos, taken at longer, guided exposures, and then processed via computer, will appear all over the Internet. Though no where near the quality you may see, my photo illustrates two aspects:
1. It shows that any amateur can get a photo of a supernova, something that most of humanity has never seen, using a common camera with a slightly less common telescope and mount. For a few thousand dollars, you could have the same photograph.
2. My photo shows about what I saw when looking at the supernova on June 3/4, 2011, through a friend's 25-inch telescope. Very few people have a 25-inch telescope.

The irony is that right now, the more scientifically valuable contributions from amateurs are those images taken before the supernova. The amateur astronomy community is being asked for any images that can narrow down the time between May 30 and June 2 when the supernova first appeared. I took my first image of M51 one month ago, using a 3-inch telescope. I pointed my camera at M51 on a whim, just to see what I'd get. Here are the before and after:

For more information on contributing images of M51, see this post at Palomar Skies: amateur-astronomers-can-help-ptf-study


Monday, May 23, 2011

A Good Day for Sundogs and Better for Halos

Where I live, May usually brings 90+ F degree days that makes seeing the rings and arcs from atmospheric ice crystals rare, but this May has been unusually cold , making for some great halos. I saw this one yesterday:
Colorful arc with ends that split on the left and right.
Lower center is my hat blocking the sun.

The lower section of the arc was not as bright nor as colorful.
My hat is barely shown at the top, where it is blocking the sun.

Most 22 degree halos I see have little color and are a single halo, rather than a split halo shown here next the sundog:
Sundog, outer ring, and inner 22-degree ring. The outer ring leads into the sundog,
suggesting some common optical property at work.

According to Atmospheric Optics, the sundog gets closer to the inner, 22-degree halo as the sun is lower to the horizon. These photos were taken around 3:30 PM, when the sun is still rather high in the sky, and accordingly, the sundog is noticably out from the 22-degree ring.

This ring was also observed by a friend and fellow sky-watching enthusiast who took this photo, probably a mile from me:

Photo by Shaun Brodie

Shaun's photo is a bit more useful in that he included the sun, from which we can trace the arcs of the two rings. Shaun duplicated and rotated his photo to create an extension of the ring. He manipulated the contrast and then drew the approximate tangents that conform to the outer ring.

According to Shaun, "The center of the secondary arc lies on the circumference of the arc/circle around the sun." I took a slightly different approach and agree with his conclusion:

An update(24 May): Per Atmospheric Optics, the outer ring is a circumscribed halo, which is also the high sun version of the upper and lower tangent arcs:
Circumscribed halo

Keep looking up.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I guess this is what you do on blogs

Whenever one corresponds via others' blogs, and the correspondence leads to discussion, controversy, and vitriol, one provides links. I'm not sure if I'm getting my vitriols yet, but there's still time.

I've been following a local blogger and satirist since discovering 1) he can be funny, 2) he leaks the views of a former council member whose civic knowledge I respect and admire, 3) he has shown some pro-city, pro-community attitudes, and 4) he offers a contrary opinion. Though sometimes I've applauded the contrary opinion, often I don't agree. Regardless, I enjoy hearing it, and I have a scientific curiousity about people with contrary opinions.

Since he's outed me as a reader, I'm committed to the quality of his blog. So it was in this spirit I commented on his interview with an activist whose litigation overturned a $28-dollar yearly assessment for the maintenance of our community's parks:
The Provocative Interview

Having participated in the reopening of parks through my position on a redevelopment committee and through other community activities, I took umbrage to the portrayal of our local litigant's motives and his characterization of members of the Parks Committee. My rebuttal is here:
My response

Our litigant replied to my statements here:
The interviewee's response

And I'm awaiting the posting of my rejoinder which I'll share (when posted).:

Me again (17 May 11)
My May 17 comment is reproduced below
Steve's explanations are consistent with what I observed, and I was careful to qualify my inferences as inferences. We can't know the thinking behind others' overt behavior. (Is everyone with me on this?)
I struggled to not let later events rewrite my memory (e.g., Steve's opposition to incorporation and to the parks assessment). I hope Steve has exercised similar scrutiny.
Regarding Steve's humor, which I enjoyed:
Steve: The neighborhood where I live is named “Parkside” Estates, not “Collegeside” Estates – enough said.
I sympathize with this. "Parkside" does imply there would have been a park. I welcome any advice on how I can contribute to making that park a reality, seven years ago as well as today. Regarding "Estates" I trust that part of the name has met Steve's expectations, as there's nothing I can do there.
Considering Steve's presence in Wildomar politics, I welcome any public record of his efforts to make the park of Park Estates a reality. I'm inclined to believe that he has made the statements I seek, but I ask because I'm undecided as to whether breaking up the parks assessment was a means to that end or intended as a punishment.
Steve raises a good question about the RDA and Marna O'Brien:

Steve: I am informed that the good people of Lakeland Village are still trying to figure out how millions of dollars of RDA funds legally mandated to be used to combat blight conditions within their RDA boundaries were used instead to refurbish Marna O’Brien Park, which is not even located within the Lakeland Village Wildomar Redevelopment Project Area. Perhaps a future expose for Zak Turango?
Actually, our minutes are public record, so anyone "still trying to figure out how [money is spent]" may be not worth reaching out to, but I'm willing to help. And, I did offer my help, as a member of the RDA, to Steve at our first meeting. I was willing to see if the RDA had any means to assist in his dispute. The RDA has since used its voice on other issues in the community. That Steve would suggest an expose reveals more of him than it will of the RDA.
Let's put forth a testable hypothesis. I may be an idealist fool or Steve may be working too hard to find fault in collective action. (Actually, I admit to being an idealistic fool, but the question is whether it's to an extent that is detrimental to the community.)
The RDA committee I'm on was elected so that the community can have a say in what is considered blight and in how to correct it. We decided that shuttered parks were a condition of blight (which raises the question of who is fighting or promoting blight).
Marna O'Brien is a half block beyond the RDA boundary. However, the RDA can invest in projects outside of its boundary if such projects benefit the RDA. For example, we are reviewing sites for a new fire station that will service the RDA zone but likely reside outside the boundary. If this is inappropriate, it's not too late for citizens to intervene. (Before you answer, please know that if there were a fire outside the RDA, I'm Ok if you want to call the station we'll have paid for.) The same can be said for community centers, flood infrastructure, roads, signals, and even the water quality of Lake Elsinore.
But back to the park... RDA residents near Mission Trails drive southwest to reach Marna O'Brien; RDA residents near Central drive northwest; and those near Grand drive northeast. We have the park surrounded! (See map.) A park with Marna O'Brien's services is a benefit to the RDA and the greater community. Forgive the cliche but we all rise together -- but I guess we can add "fail together, too"
If there is a flaw or violation in the RDA's support for Marna O'Brien, please charge ahead and investigate, but make sure you can get the whole story before undermining people's confidence in collective action. I'm available to anyone who wants to know more about the activities of the RDA since I've been a member.

And the map I sent is here (click to enlarge):

Monday, May 9, 2011

Star Party covered by The Californian

I would like to thank The Californian for covering the star party that my astronomy club conducted last week:
More than 200 turn out to star gaze

The reporter did a commendable job of squeezing the event into the limited print. She described the enthusiasm people show and their disbelief upon first seeing Saturn in a telescope -- disbelief that they are really looking at Saturn.

The reporter attended one of the three presentations I gave, and she captured the cross-section of observing and astronomy that I share. It's always interesting to see what sticks and makes it into a couple sentence summary:
Wearing a shirt that read "Science rules," Garrett talked about meteors, planets, the moon and its orbit, the large telescope at Palomar Observatory, and the best time to see Mars in the sky.
"Mars is really tiny," he said.
He also explained to students and parents how outdoor lighting, which he called "light pollution," can block views of the night sky in developed nations, and how the science of astronomy has helped scientists learn about the Earth's climate.
Though "Mars is really tiny" would not be my first choice for a quotation, I am pleased that I must have effectively conveyed the connection between astronomy and climate science. A theme from start to finish was that astronomy is not just what's beyond our planet, but contributes to our understanding of urgent topics like global climate change.  For example, detection of CO2 in exoplanets relies on the same principles as calculating CO2's increasing influence in Earth's greenhouse effect, yet global warming hoax theorists fail to include astronomers as members of the conspiracy. I hope my use of irony is clear.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Trying not to see stars

I've commented before on Native American artifacts that resemble constellations near my home in Southern California (e.g., cupula rock). My comments weren't original: Ray Williamson, in his book "Living the Sky", refers to constellations in Great Basin petro glyphs. In searching for other examples of constellations in rock art, I found this paper: -- but the paper doesn't declare strong support for the constellation hypothesis, and in personal correspondence, the author offered his hindsight that he is now very skeptical of the constellation hypothesis. I've also sent photos of cupula rock to Anthony Aveni (Author of The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2010) who saw no reason to interpret the patterns as other than randomly distributed boreholes (see  Ok, I did do the nose).

So it is with caution that I share these photos of a rock at Joshua Tree National Park:

Six, similarly sized depressions, with four in a pretty straight line.

Here is a view of the area. I'm looking approximately South. Center in the photo (and you may need to click the photo to see ths) is the pattern:

 Here is a close up of the depressions, with my size-12 foot for scale:

The depressions look as worn as the surrounding rock and are even in size.

The rock at Joshua Tree is large-grained and crumbly. I believe it erodes quickly, and that people could easily make these depressions (now and thousands of years ago), but I saw no scratches or evidence hinting at human hands at work.

The depressions are in a popular camping and climbing area called Indian Cove. Joshua Tree has other Native American artifacts, so long-term human occupation is not in question. In the following photo, I noticed other patterns. The main group is in the center, but lower to the right you can see an alternating pattern of depressions:

 Here is a zoomed in view showing a right-left stepping pattern:

I see many natural depressions in the rock at Joshua Tree, but I've not seen any that are so consistent in shape as these.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Amboy Crater: 50 minutes North from my last post

Twenty-one years ago I drove across the great plains and southwest deserts of the United States on my way to California. Iraq had just invaded Kuwait and gas prices soared. I made a note of the highest price: $1.79 per gallon in Amboy California, which is near the southwest portion of the mojave desert. While in Amboy, I noticed a lava flow and prominent cinder cone and vowed to return. Twentyone years and over 2 dollars per gallon later, I returned.

Amboy Crater, viewed from the western rim (spliced together from three photos)

The drive north from Joshua Tree National Park to Amboy crosses classic alluvial fans. These alluvial features evelope the base of the mountains and form vast gradual slopes where you can drive for miles, barely noticing any elevation change.

The cinder cone rises 250 feet from the surface, making it unmistakable:

A mile-long trail leads from a parking lot to the cone and crosses the lava flow and it's varying features. Here, the flow's low, wavy shape is highlighted by the dry grass:

And here the texture is that of a pushed up parking lot, rock black as asphalt and cracked. Plants and sand exploit the cracks.

The composition of the cone has texture differences. Right is crumbly; and left, more of a charcoal color and texture comparable to graphite powders. The left also has distinct erosion channels.

A view looking down from the crater rim near the transition between textures.

A close up of the texture change:

After my visit, I found Amboy Crater on GoogleEarth, which is just like being there, unless of course, you've actually been there.

Notice the satelite photo from GoogleEarth shows streaks from the cinder cone and other features. These streaks weren't apparent to on the ground, and if they are real, my guess is that the streaks are wind deposits, darker grains blown from the cinder cone and other outcrops, and deposited onto the sand dusted flow. It is likely the winds blow consistently to the south east, something to follow up on.

Something on the sparse wildlife:

A very unusualy insect, unless I presume, you live here.

And a few plants:

Possibly a mallow or type of lilly growing among the lava rock -- another plant to identify.

Bright yellow encelia bushes peak around March and make a delightful contrast with the dark rock.

One last note: The best time to visit is Oct - March when the temperatures are mild. The lava flow heats up in the sunlight and would be dangerous for most people to cross when April-Sept temperatures start in the 90s.