Light pollution-free area, near Little Snake River, Colorado

December 12, 2012

Take a look at this sunset shot:

Sunset near Little Snake River, Colorado - Photo by Shannon Diszmang

Sunset on BLM land near the Little Snake River, in northwest Colorado. Photo by Shannon Diszmang, via Royal Gorge National Recreation Area.

Note from America’s Great Outdoors blog:

Earlier this year, the Royal Gorge Recreation Area staff had a photo contest on their Facebook page and here is one of the great photos that was submitted. Here’s what photographer, Shannon Diszmang, had to say about it.

“This is BLM land in Northwest Colorado (Little Snake River district). I fell in love with this place. The red haze in this photo is the smoke coming from the wildfires on the west coast at the time. This is one of the lowest light pollution spots in our state which makes star gazing the absolute best.”

So, if you’re nearby, and you want a good place to look at the Geminid meteor shower tonight, odds are high there will be little light pollution here.  If there aren’t many clouds, you’re in luck.

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P.S.: The stunningly beautiful photo above is NOT the winner of the photo contest(!).  BLM wrote in a November press release:

CAÑON CITY, Colo. – Today the BLM Royal Gorge Field Office announced the winners of its BLM-sponsored photo contest.  The two winners were decided by the public via the RGFO’s Facebook page: one winner is based on the most “likes” and the other is based on the most “shares.” Only those “likes” and “shares” that originated from the Royal Gorge Facebook page were tallied towards a winner.

Chris Nelson’s photo was the most “liked” and is a scenic shot taken from Chaffee County Road 175 between Cañon City and Salida. Nelson’s photo received 64 “likes.”

The most “shared” photo was submitted by David Madone and portrayed several deer in an alfalfa field near Cañon City. Madone’s photo received 20 shares.

Both photos will be featured on the RGFO’s Facebook page throughout November and may be featured in future BLM Colorado publications and social media sites.

The photo contest began Oct. 2 and ended Nov. 4 with more than 60 photos submitted. All the photos that were entered into the contest may be viewed via the “Photo Contest” album on the RGFO’s Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/BLMRoyalGorge

Yeah, were I you, I’d go see what the winners looked like.


Geminid meteor shower, December 13, 2012

December 12, 2012

StarDate lists December 13 as probably the best night for the year’s last meteor shower, the Geminids.

Dennis Mammana photo of Geminid meteoroid near Orion

Astrophotographer Dennis Mammana caught a Geminid fireball streaking near the stars of Orion. (what year?) CREDIT: ©Dennis Mammana/dennismammana.com

Are you up for it?  Or, do you plan to stay up for it?  Space.com said this one is likely to be better than the Leonids of last month:

If you were disappointed with the meager showing put on by this year’s Leonid Meteor Shower, don’t fret.  What potentially will be the best meteor display of the year is just around the corner, scheduled to reach its peak on Thursday night, Dec. 13: the Geminid Meteors.

The Geminids get their name from the constellation of Gemini, the Twins.  On the night of this shower’s maximum the meteors will appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright star Castor in Gemini.

The Geminid Meteors are usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the famous Perseids of August. Studies of past displays show that this shower has a reputation for being rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Geminids typically encounter Earth at 22 miles per second (35 kilometers per second), roughly half the speed of a Leonid meteor. Many appear yellowish in hue. Some even appear to travel jagged or divided paths.

EarthSky.org said the show starts as soon as Gemini rises — soon after sunset in the nothern middle latitudes.  Look east to the constellation Gemini, toward the star Castor. (I’m using my iPhone NightSky app; wish I had my old Android and Google Sky.)  Get a coat.  Get your binoculars, your tripod and camera (you’ll want time exposures, yes?).  Maybe take some gloves, and a Thermos of hot chocolate.  Out of the city, out where the sky is dark.  The Moon is in a new phase, and shouldn’t be visible when the meteor watching is hot.

Send us your pictures. (Here are instructions from Patch.com on how to photograph this shower.)  Good luck!

Babak Tafreshi, photo of 2009 Geminid meteor

Babak Tafreshi’s photo of a Geminid meteoroid in 2009. Note position of Orion, on the right.

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Quote of the moment: John Adams, on government debt

December 12, 2012

John Adams, by Asher B. Durand

President John Adams, painted by Asher B. Durand; U.S. Navy image, via Wikipedia

Our second President, the author of the Constitution and Bill of Rights of Massachusetts, John Adams was quite pragmatic about debt — use it when you have to, don’t use it too much. In his first Annual Message to Congress, on November 22, 1797, Adams said:

Since the decay of the feudal system, by which the public defense was provided for chiefly at the expense of individuals, the system of loans has been introduced, and as no nation can raise within the year by taxes sufficient sums for its defense and military operations in time of war the sums loaned and debts contracted have necessarily become the subjects of what have been called funding systems. The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own. The national defense must be provided for as well as the support of Government; but both should be accomplished as much as possible by immediate taxes, and as little as possible by loans.

Taxes over loans.  Who would have guessed that?

In contrast to some of the things circulating around the internet today attributed to John Adams, he actually wrote this in his message to Congress.


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