Dark Sky Week, Lyrid meteor shower – get outside!

April 23, 2014

From the Arches National Park Facebook page:  photo of Pine Tree Arch by Andy Porter)

From the Arches National Park Facebook page: photo of Pine Tree Arch and meteoroid by Andy Porter)

A few minutes before 9:00 p.m. Central on Tuesday, I saw a sizable fireball falling north to south, appearing from my vantage on the top of Cedar Hill to be over south Grand Prairie, Texas.  Best meteoroid I’ve seen for a while.

Part of the Lyrid Meteor Shower, perhaps?  The Lyrids coincide with Dark Sky Week this year.  Dark Sky Week’s egalitarian origins should inspire all of us to go outside and look up, no?  The celebration was invented by a high school student, Jennifer Barlow, in 2003.

I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future . . . I want to help preserve its wonder.” – Jennifer Barlow

The International Dark Sky Association promotes activities worldwide to encourage star-gazing and sky-watching.

Go out tonight, and look up!

More: 

 


Sky and stars peeking into Antelope Canyon

April 11, 2014

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, near Page Arizona, get more visitors annually than just about any other canyon except the Grand Canyon.  They cover only a few miles.

You’re not familiar with Antelope Canyon?  You’ve seen the photos, even if you don’t know the name of the place — it’s a slot canyon, carved as with a wandering knife into the sandstone at the top of the cliffs leading to the Colorado River.

Over at EarthSky, I found a view you haven’t seen before.

Antelope Canyon at night by Sergio Garcia Rill. Stunning contrast of rock painted by light, and stars.  From EarthSky.com.  Visit Sergio’s website and read more about this adventure.

Antelope Canyon at night by Sergio Garcia Rill. Stunning contrast of rock painted by light, and stars. From EarthSky.com. Visit Sergio’s website and read more about this adventure.

Details from EarthSky.com:

Sergio Garcia Rill captured this beautiful image from within Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona, which is the most visited slot canyon in the United States. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. It’s formed by water rushing through rock. Sergio wrote:

During my recent trip to Arizona, I stopped by Page to get a chance at touring the now famous canyons (Upper and Lower Antelope) and I also had a chance to visit Upper Antelope at night.

I couldn’t really get too many shots with the sky (since the openings were very narrow and limited) but I liked this one in particular since I got a chance to set it up and do the light painting myself a couple of chambers behind from where my guide and another participant were working on another shot.

Thank you, Sergio.

Visit Sergio Garcia Rill’s Facebook page.

Click here for info about traveling to Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon.

Readers here may remember Page was the final destination of my late oldest brother, Jerry.  To his credit, he urged me to make a special trip to see Antelope Canyon, because most of the times I visited, it was closed, or impassable.  Alas, I have not yet been to the place.

This is one of the gems of the Diné, the Navajo Nation, and another good reason to get familiar with redrock country.


Milky Way in perspective, Northern to the Southern Cross

March 29, 2014

Found on Twitter, via @SciencePorn - One of the most beautiful pictures I've ever seen. Star photography by Nicholas Buer pic.twitter.com/RlwvSQNBAy

Found on Twitter, via @SciencePorn – One of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen. Star photography by Nicholas Buer pic.twitter.com/RlwvSQNBAy. Much larger view here.

Nicholas Buer works hard to get these shots — a bit of a master, no?

This one was the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) for January 27, 2014 (click that link for a much larger and more glorious view).  Much more detail there, revealing that this is much more of the Milky Way than you’d usually see.

From the Northern to the Southern Cross
Image Credit & Copyright: Nicholas Buer Explanation: There is a road that connects the Northern to the Southern Cross but you have to be at the right place and time to see it. The road, as pictured above, is actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy; the right place, in this case, is dark Laguna Cejar in Salar de Atacama of Northern Chile; and the right time was in early October, just after sunset. Many sky wonders were captured then, including the bright Moon, inside the Milky Way arch; Venus, just above the Moon; Saturn and Mercury, just below the Moon; the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds satellite galaxies, on the far left; red airglow near the horizon on the image left; and the lights of small towns at several locations across the horizon. One might guess that composing this 30-image panorama would have been a serene experience, but for that one would have required earplugs to ignore the continued brays of wild donkeys.

 


Nene, once again more than just a crossword answer

March 26, 2014

Caption:  USFWS Refuge System ‏@USFWSRefuges -   Nene hatchings on Jas Campbell #Refuge are 1st in Hawaii in centuries http://bit.ly/1jBxFrT  pic.twitter.com/PK2l9PVa3v

Caption: USFWS Refuge System ‏@USFWSRefuges – Nene hatchings on James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge are first in [Oahu] Hawaii in centuries http://bit.ly/1jBxFrT pic.twitter.com/PK2l9PVa3v (this photo taken on Kaui, at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge). Photograph by Brenda Zaun/USFWS/Flickr Creative Commons

These great looking geese, known as Nene,  are thought to have descended from Canada geese blown off course; once they were common on many of the Hawaiian Islands, but by 1952 there were only 30 left.

Bones found on Oahu show they once thrived there.  A few birds — blown off course again, or looking for more territory? — moved to Oahu a few months ago, and have raised young.  Scientists are watching to see how it works out.

With short name featuring only two different letters, “Nene” is a popular crossword answer, and clue.  Some ornithologists half-joke that the familiarity among crossword enthusiasts was a huge aid in getting aid for the wild populations of the bird, and in getting the Endangered Species Act passed into law.

More:

 


Delicate sunset in Utah

March 21, 2014

From the U.S. Department of Interior:  This stunning photo of dusk @ArchesNPS by Jonathan Backin is the perfect way to end the week. #utah #nature pic.twitter.com/5bIanEG8sZ

From the U.S. Department of Interior: This stunning photo of dusk @ArchesNPS by Jonathan Backin is the perfect way to end the week. #utah #nature pic.twitter.com/5bIanEG8sZ

Delicate Arch, with a dusting of snow, as the sun sets.

A great reason to live in Moab, Utah, or visit there.


How kids get to school, New Delhi edition

March 19, 2014

From Twitter:

From Twitter: “Another e.g. pic to show that school transport in Asia needs attention on health & safety aspects pic.twitter.com/Mn2FbSSELX”

Do you think the students have wi-fi to finish their homework on the way to school?

(This is not necessarily representative of all Indian school buses.)

One wonders at the stories behind such “buses” and their use.  It might make an interesting geography assignment, to find out how students get to school in other nations.  What is the most exotic, bizarre, dangerous or luxurious ride?

More:


Snow falling on yucca on White Sands

March 18, 2014

Another great shot from America’s public lands:

One of the world'a great natural wonders - the glistening white sands @WhiteSands_NPS. #NewMexico pic.twitter.com/dbzPpIfSRW

Department of Interior Great American Outdoors Tumblr caption: One of the world’a great natural wonders – the glistening white sands @WhiteSands_NPS. #NewMexico pic.twitter.com/dbzPpIfSRW

One of the problems of touring places like White Sands National Monument is that most tourists arrive mid-day; most spectacular views are probably close to sunrise or sunset, when the sky adds colors other than “bright” to the scene.

Like No Place Else on Earth

Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

Yes, the same White Sands where the Trinity Project first triggered an atomic weapon, in 1945 — but the blast site is actually about 100 miles north of the National Monument on the military’s White Sands Missile Range. Historical reasons to visit, as well as nature and beauty reasons.

I assume that’s some sort of yucca in the photo; can you tell more specifically?

More, related:


Sunrise on the Shenandoah Mountains

March 11, 2014

This is a hopeful picture.

US Dept of Interior Tweet:  Beautiful #sunrise over @ShenandoahNPS last weekend. #Virginia #travel #nature pic.twitter.com/T2sEgczGsz

US Dept of Interior Tweet: Beautiful #sunrise over @ShenandoahNPS last weekend. #Virginia #travel #nature pic.twitter.com/T2sEgczGsz

Probably taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  At the bottom of the photo, note the stone wall, probably built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Franklin Roosevelt administration, and still contributing to America’s beauty and economy 80 years later.

I can imagine driving along, catching a beautiful sunrise, but not being at a point to stop to photograph it.  Driving farther along, the photographer found a safe place to stop, but the sunrise itself was gone by 15 minutes.  With the aid of a young tree, however, the photographer can recapture that moment of the Sun’s peeking over the horizon, without special effects.  Nice thought for the shot.


Just ducky! It’s turtles, all the way down . . .

March 5, 2014

From the U.S. Department of Interior:  Friends come in all shapes & sizes in the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. #California #nature pic.twitter.com/CvUkY6HoxF

From the U.S. Department of Interior: Friends come in all shapes & sizes in the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. #California #nature pic.twitter.com/CvUkY6HoxF

Watching the wildlife can be endlessly entertaining.


Sunset over Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee (more ways than one?)

March 4, 2014

Nice photo from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Sunset over Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.  Photo: Austin Leih (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Caption from the Tumblr of the Department of Interior: Sunset over Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Photo: Austin Leih (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Beautiful place, nice photographic capture.

Then I look, and I see a lot of necrotic tree tops.  Acid Rain?  Warming?  Pine borers or some other insect?

Sometimes, Mark Twain’s lament is right.  Sometimes you know too much to just sit back in awe.  Feynman was right, too.

More:


Happy 142nd birthday, Yellowstone National Park!

March 1, 2014

142 years ago today, @YellowstoneNPS became America's first national park. RT to wish them a very happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/drka6iq0Tc

Tweet from the Department of Interior: 142 years ago today, @YellowstoneNPS became America’s first national park. RT to wish them a very happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/drka6iq0Tc

Ken Burns called the National Parks probably the best idea America has had.

Certainly a great idea — really born on this day, 142 years ago, with the designation of Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone NP contains the world’s largest collection of geysers. It is the heart of the largest, nearly-intact temperate zone ecosystem on Earth as well, contained in 3,468 square miles (8,983 km²), a laboratory and playground for geologists, geographers, botanists, zoologists, and almost anyone else who loves the nature and the wild.

Only 142 years old?  In the U.S., we have more than 300 units in the National Park System, now, including National Historic Places as well as the best of the wild.  Around the world, how much land has been saved, for the benefit of humanity, by this idea?  Not enough.

What’s your favorite memory of Yellowstone? What’s your favorite feature?

More:

Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone, the first U.S. national park, erupts every 9 to 15 hours, shooting water up to 220 feet high.  Photograph by Michael Melford

From National Geographic: Great Fountain Geyser in Yellowstone, the first U.S. national park, erupts every 9 to 15 hours, shooting water up to 220 feet high. Photograph by Michael Melford


Ready for his close-up, on the Anhinga Trail

February 27, 2014

Department of Interior caption:  Everglades National Park --   This Alligator decided he wanted to stand out from all the others along the Anhinga Trail! (SD)

Department of Interior caption: Everglades National Park — This Alligator decided he wanted to stand out from all the others along the Anhinga Trail! (SD)


Lightning strike in Monument Valley, Navajo Nation

February 20, 2014

Lightning strikes in Monument Valley, on the Navajo Reservation, Utah.  Photography by Carolyn Slay (Oak Ridge, TN); Monument Valley, UT

Lightning strikes in Monument Valley, on the Navajo Reservation, Utah. Photography by Carolyn Slay (Oak Ridge, TN); Monument Valley, UT Feb. 20 2014 Via smithsonianmag.com.

Lightning strike in Monument Valley, photo by Carolyn Slay of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Smithsonian Magazine Tumblr Photo of the Day, February 20, 2014.

Rocks on the right can also be seen in this photo; can you help pinpoint the location of the photographer, and names of any of the other formations?


When the Moon hits your eye, in Arches NP

February 12, 2014

Photo by Lynn Sessions;

Photo by Lynn Sessions; “THE EYE OF THE #MOON: North Window arch at Arches National Park in #Utah. #NatGeo pic.twitter.com/XwHfdWK5Ft

It’s just a click of the shutter?  Ha!

I’m assuming not a lot of post-photo processing on this. Lynn Sessions had to figure out when the Moon would be in the North Window Arch, calculate exposure, and shoot off enough of them to get a decent shot before the Moon moved.  I suspect the rocks were “painted” with a flashlight during the exposure.

(Haven’t yet found the technical details of the shot. But I did find this about the photographer:
I’m a frustrated amateur photographer who is trying to visit every corner in Utah as well as hike/photograph every canyon in southern Utah. More at http://www.DreamBreeze.com )

Patience, planning, creativity — then just push the button.

More:

 


Sundown on the trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, #2

February 6, 2014

Hiking Bryce Canyon at sundown, one may see rocks in a new way, spotlighted from 93 million miles away.  Photo from 2008, by Ed Darrell

Hiking Bryce Canyon at sundown, one may see rocks in a new way, spotlighted from 93 million miles away. Photo from 2008, by Ed Darrell


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,991 other followers

%d bloggers like this: