Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Moon

and Venus.
Venus alone, top, and both objects, below. Wednesday morning, had I been up and in an appropriate viewing spot, I could have watched Venus disappear behind the moon for about an hour. Unfortunately, neither condition was met. Fortunately, APOD captured the conjunction beautifully (Click over for full-size; it really is awe-inspiring). There is something very science fictiony about this photo that I just love.

Just few minutes ago, SpaceWeather sent me an alert to let me know about another conjunction that will occur tomorrow at sunset. Mercury is never far above the horizon, and it's never too bright, so spotting it in a twilit sky is difficult. I've only seen the planet a few times, but once you spot it, it's a naked-eye object. Having something prominant, like, say, the crescent moon, to guide your search should make it easier to find. Hint: Mercury will not be inside the crescent.

Space Weather News for April 25, 2009 SUNSET CONJUNCTION: When the sun goes down on Sunday, April 26th, step outside and look west. An exquisitely-slender crescent Moon is lining up with Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster for a three-way conjunction in the sunset sky. Click here for the full story and a sky map:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Volcanic Winter

If you like meteorology- and have a little background in it- you will like Jeff Master's Weather Wunderblog. We are coming up on hurricane season, and I enjoy reading in-depth analyses of these storms. The Weather Channel used to do a fairly decent job of this, but they seem too caught up in breathless and shameless disaster programming these days to actually do decent weather analysis.

The reason I bring this up is that today's post is a fascinating examination of the climatic effects of large volcanic eruptions. Combining historical perspectives, the most recent results of climate modeling, and examples from both human experiences with, and geological history of, major eruptions, some of the passages are (to me at least) quite riveting. For example:
If a mega-colossal eruption were to occur today, it would probably not be able to push Earth into an ice age, according to a modeling study done by Jones et al. (2005). They found that an eruption like Toba would cool the Earth by about 17°F (9.4°C) after the first year (Figure 3), and the temperature would gradually recover to 3°F (1.8°C) below normal ten years after the eruption. They found that the eruption would reduce rainfall by 50% globally for the first two years, and up to 90%over the Amazon, Southeast Asia, and central Africa. This would obviously be very bad for human civilization, with the cold and lack of sunshine causing widespread crop failures and starvation of millions of people. Furthermore, the eruption would lead to a partial loss of Earth's protective ozone layer, allowing highly damaging levels of ultraviolet light to penetrate to the surface.
So if, like me, you are a fan of both the atmosphere and the geosphere, this would be a good time to check out this excellent blog.!

Sorry I've been so remiss about posting. Allergies have been driving me mad this week. I didn't know allergies could be so bad they made you dizzy. My nose is raw from being ground at with tissues and napkins. Nuff said... I just haven't been thinking clearly enough to say anything interesting, and I'm still not. So have a couple of funny cat videos.

(Hat Tip to Badtux)

Sorry, don't remember. Now if you'll excuse me, I feel a sneeze coming on. Again.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Apologies for the confusion here... Blooger (as I call it when it pisses me off) every now and then decides it's going to post something long before I actually have it put together. Also, when I'm trying to load more than one photo, it is ever so helpful about dropping in line returns and paragraph breaks... quite literally dozens, if there's more than a few pictures. So some of you may have seen a rather messy and incomplete version of Sunday Funnies.

The big find this week was My First Dictionary... the first dictionary for depressive paranoid schizophrenics.

Dave Schumaker at The Geology News Blog summarized my attitude toward physical activity... ...although I have to admit, I might have enjoyed the following activity in my younger days:From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Partially Clips had a parable for our time. Blooger, bless its pointy little head, makes it difficult to make the picture big enough to read, so I recommend clicking over to see a version that doesn't require squinting.
I've been loving Wee Mousie's Classic Film stills for a while now. This one caused me a little bit of embarrassment when I broke out laughing in one of those odd quiet lulls that sometime happen in a crowded area. I had been planning on posting this last week, but it didn't really fit with the Easter theme. It turned out for the best, because the following shows what I think it would really look like if all of James Dobson's stupid went critical:
From My [confined] Space.

Of course one big news item this week was all the "teabagging" protests, which I addressed here and here (I finally got a comment from Micgar on the latter one today, but I personally think it's one of the funnier things I've posted). But Seeds of Doubt, another political humor and satire blog I've followed for a while, knocked this one out of the park with the two following funnies: Phydreaux Speaks posted this insight on the demographics of teabagging... Moving on to other news, a dead pixel has been spotted on Google Earth:
"Dead pixel in Google Earth" by Helmut Smits, 82 x 82 cm burned square, the size of one pixel from an altitude of 1 km. Hat tip to Today and Tomorrow.funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures. The requisite LolCats... the thing I adore about the above picture is that no matter what caption you put on it, it would be side-splitting. The next one isn't funny; it's truth.
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures. Failblog comes through with another masterful example of incompetence, but Bill Gates will not be outdone on that battlefield.
bill gates
see more Political Pictures

And it has sort of become traditional to send you all on your way with some cautionary message to consider as you start the new week...
fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Have a good one!