Monday, August 13, 2012

Parhelia at Julian Starfest, 17 Aug 2012

This Friday I'll be presenting at the Julian Starfest. My topic is parhelia, like this circumzenithal arc (below) I observed this afternoon around 5:45. My presentation is at 7:00 pm, 17 August, at the Menghini Winery in Julian. More information about this 4 day event is available at the

This is the first circumzenithal arc I've seen in summer, and it was probably 100 degrees F when I took the photo. Though it was hot on the ground, there was plenty of ice crystals aloft to make this arc.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Perseids: 2 out of 80 per minute

A high end estimate of perseids is 80 per minute. I believe that may have been the case last night for anyone under a dark sky. I counted 32 between 11:15 and 12:15. Of these perhaps ten were bright fireballs like the brighter meteor in my photos. Most were faint and barely detectable from my semi-urban sky. (My--I mean "our" -- sky here in Wildomar isn't too bad, as I could see the Milky Way all the way to Cassiopiea).


Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Coal Sequestration Illustration

I've contributed an illustration (see below) to this post on Skeptical Science:

The post argues that in terms of net energy gained and used, it is impractical to burn coal with the expectation that we can later capture the CO2 and sequester its carbon in a form that is as stable as the coal it came from.


Lake Skinner Star Party cancelled

The star party for Aug 11 at Lake Skinner is cancelled due to thunderstorms. The event will be rescheduled.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Talega-Escondido/Valley-Serrano Interconnect (TV/VS)

For years a small group of entrepreneurs under the name Nevada Hydro have been trying to put up a transmission line through the neighboring Cleveland National Forest. This project began by leveraging the LEAPS application, a pumped storage hydro-electric plant using the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District as a backer. Support for LEAPS has dwindled, largely because the project is unprofitable (On paper it would lose $120-124 million per yer and return only 80 % of the energy it consumed). I've documented much of the history of LEAPS and the TE/VS on a website called

Nevada Hydro continues to promote their transmission line, which would be profitable, for them.

Note that Nevada Hydro is not a utility company and does not have any completed hydro-electric projects to their name. I believe they incorporated for the specific purpose of putting together the LEAPS business arrangement that would have left them with the revenue from the TE/VS transmission line serving LEAPS.

One problem with the TE/VS is that it crosses a fire prone area that has unusual conditions of steep terrain, inflammable ground cover, and proximity to ocean breezes making fire fighting exceptionally difficult as the these conditions can easily redirect fires and trap ground crews in canyons. Aircraft are essential and have been used in most of the recent fires in this region. This is not a good place to add high-voltage transmission lines.

Below are some diagrams I've created summarizing the recent fire history of our region.

Nevada Hydro is offering a public workshop on their proposal this afternoon from 4-8 at Murrieta Community Center, 41810 Juniper Street, Murrieta, CA  92562.


Star Party at Lake Skinner, 11 August 2012

This weekend there will be a star party at Lake Skinner at the amphitheater. A presentation begins at 8:00 pm and star gazing follows till about 9:30. This is also a good night to watch for Perseid metors. Below is a map: