Earlier this year, NASA released a new global image of the Earth at night. For the most part, much of the reaction in the media was to the effect that this was a stunningly beautiful representation of human beings’ presence on Earth.
I like the interpretation found on this national geographic site:
As you read the article, it explains how an artist made an intriguing observation that the night-time illumination of Earth has changed, and not necessarily for the better, in the past few years. SOme area, such as northeastern India, are most definitely headed in the wrong direction as far as proper night-time illumination.
Boy, it is cloudy a lot in March in Michigan! And, on top of that, today is the day that they make us change the time on our clocks by one hour, as if that is going to give us more daylight. All that Daylight Saving Time does, folks, is make you go to work or school an hour earlier and let you go home an hour earlier. That’s all it is. It does not save energy; in fact it may increase the use of air conditioning. It does not reduce crime; the bad guys just wait until you are not home, no matter what the clock says. It does not decrease car accidents and may, in fact in crease them.
So why do we still do it?
I have finally been able to catch my breath after a busy start to the new school year. I must say a few words about the famous supermoon blood Moon evil end of days eclipse that occurred this past Sunday night in the U.S. I missed it. The night started out heavily overcast and, after giving a quick look at about 9:30 PM, I gave up and went inside to get cozy and ready for bed. Of course it cleared up! Oh well, there’ll be another nice lunar eclipse coming along soon.
No, you won’t have to wait until 2030 or whatever. (But that’s what they said on the news!)
Yeah, okay. A lunar eclipse at perigee is closer than your usual eclipse, but not THAT much bigger. There will be a pretty nice eclipse for North America in January of 2019, a little more than three years away. The Moon will be totally within the Earth’s shadow for about an hour. Should be great.
I shall now vent about the media hype on this most recent eclipse. It’s nice that the various outlets alerted everyone to the event, but the tone of blood Moon supermoon very rare don’t miss this or your completely out of luck… was a bit much.
I guess I am trying to point out, as I always have, that amazing and beautiful things happen in the sky quite often. If you bother to look.
The bard said something more or less related but better, perhaps:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Catching up and resting
It was good to have a couple of days with no sessions this weekend. I was able to rest, get over a cold, and catch up with some notes. Yesterday, I arose bright and early to get to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor before the crowds. The one hour plus bus ride to get there was well worth it. Every American must know of ‘The Day that will live in infamy’. Being there, above the decks of the Arizona was a very sobering experience. The day was sunny and calm, much like that day must have been when it began. The trip to the memorial and entrance to the Park Service visitors center was free. The crowd of 150 other tat took the ferry over with me were appropriately respectful. If it should be that you find yourself on Oahu, by all means, make the trip.
Last Thursday and Friday at the I.A.U., I devoted the days to the Division C, Education Division, sessions. I learned of a project called astroEDU, which is a peer review of astronomy teaching materials. There is an awful lot of astronomy activities on the web with a wide range of usefulness, not to mention validity. Although the effort is still in its infancy, it seems like a good start to ensure that all teachers of astronomy at all levels have materials that have been properly vetted.
Most importantly, I think, I have made contact with other astronomy educators. I hope to develop and grow my relationship with my fellow astronomy wizards. That, after all, was the prime reason for my attendance at the General Assembly.
I look forward in the week ahead to some sessions about light pollution and how to deal with it with support from local communities.
Wednesday, August 5
At the I.A.U. General Assembly
Just completed my second workshop with the folks from CAE, or the Center for Astronomy Education. They work out of the University of Arizona under the auspices of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I have many new tricks to try in my Astronomy classes this fall. The third of the three sessions from the group will be tomorrow.
As I mentioned earlier, education seems to be a definite priority for the I.A.U., and rightly so. I have been always dedicated to reaching as many students as I can with my personal passion. I know that few, if any of them are likely to become professional astronomers, but that is not the point. I think an appreciation for the universe is one key part of being a good citizen, certainly in my home in the United States.
Having lunch right now. In a few minutes, I will be attending the talk on cosmology and dark energy.
Dark energy! Sounds like something George Lucas came up with!
End of Monday
Travelling is a pain in the butt. The first time I was on a jet airliner forty-six years ago it was an adventure. They served us a meal with real metal silverware! Ah well… I am here and safe, And after a good night’s rest, I will be ready to be infused and energized with new astronomical vigor.
The opening ceremony this afternoon was long but very satisfying. I have a new respect for the I.A.U. Though they may have trod upon my favorite little planets Pluto, nine years ago, they remain the guardians of the craft of astronomy on this planet. I was particularly impressed with the frequent emphasis on the need to educate and inspire the next generation. Among the sessions I am most looking forward to attending are the ones concerned with saving the dark sky. I worry for young people who do not know the stars because they have no chance to see them.
I could write a bit more tonight, but the bed is beckoning, and I need to be well rested for the marathon of the next ten days.
Here I am on the adventure, part Deux. I should be in Honolulu right now but my plane broke yesterday and they had to fix the engine That put us more than an hour behind schedule, and, of course, I missed my connection. Spent a lovely night in Tempe Arizona at the Sheraton, compliments of U.S. Airways.
Hopefully this Boeing 757 will work and I will be on the Island in about six hours. I have had enough excitement in the last 24 hours and am really looking forward to getting into astronomer mode at the I.A.U. meeting.
On this flight, I get to be in the exit row. No window, no table, but lots of legroom! I stand ready to man the lifeboat if necessary.
Now at 30,000 feet above the Pacific. I have a chance to catch up on some of the story so far. I am no stranger to flying, but there have been a couple of new twists so far this trip. I have made connecting flights before, but never missed one. As we pulled away from the gate at Detroit Metro Airport, the Airbus 310 that was about to fly us to Phoenix sat for a very long time before the announcement came over the intercom informing us that there was some sort of engine problem that needed to be corrected and that we were going to have to pull back to the gate. We all stayed on the plane for an hour as the maintenance was performed.
We finally left the runway about an hour and twenty minutes behind schedule. So much for making the connection.
To their credit, U.S. Airways had a new flight arranged for me and the appropriate boarding pass ready as I deplaned in Phoenix. They gave me a voucher for a night at the Sheraton Airport in Tempe Arizona, a somewhat non-descript hotel much like thousands of others near just about every airport around the world.
I slept fairly well in a nice comfy king bed, but, as is my wont, I woke every ninety minutes or so, worried that I would sleep through the alarms.
Which brings me back over the Pacific.
I have been looking through the various sessions that I hope to attend and there is more than enough to keep me busy and informed. I just hope I can absorb and record as much as possible. I do want to incorporate as much as I can into this coming year’s curriculum.
Boarding the flight to Hawai’i this morning. There’ll be lots to do at the I.A.U. meeting in the next 12 days!
Well, they’re at it again. The media are apparently making an exciting news story about the fact that this month of July will have two Full Moons in it. My issue here is that we should be enjoying the sky with a little less breathless excitement. The Moon is full every 29.53 days or so regardless of what we happen to call the current month.I have seen a few articles encouraging people to watch this ;rare’ event. Rare? One of our months has two Full Moons in it every two years or so. I’ve said this over and over, there are wonderful things to see just about every clear night. What would truly rare is to have a major metropolitan newspaper, or a regular news broadcast have a daily astronomical feature.
On our little weekend getaway for the Fourth of July holiday, we arrived at our hotel about an hour after sunset. The orange Full Moon was rising over the cornfields. What a lovely sight!