NASA photo of the Moon, and Lincoln Memorial

January 21, 2014

This one NOT taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, though I suspect a telephoto lens was involved.

“An amazing photo of a full moon over the Lincoln Memorial.” Photo: NASA

Another photo from the Department of Interior’s Great American Outdoors Tumblr site.

It’s a rising Moon, with the photo taken from the west side of the Lincoln Memorial, perhaps from the Virginia side of the Potomac River.  The Lincoln Memorial is now part of the National Park Service’s portfolio of properties around our national capital.

Update: Jude Crook points out in comments (below) that this was a NASA Photo of the Day, originally; two federal agencies cooperating in the interest of photographic excellence . . .

Super Perigee Moon

The full moon is seen as it rises near the Lincoln Memorial, Saturday, March 19, 2011, in Washington. The full moon tonight is called a super perigee moon since it is at its closest to Earth in 2011. The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March 1993.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls


Millard Fillmore waxes on

April 5, 2013

Millard Fillmore at Madame Tussaud's, D.C.

President Millard Fillmore, as displayed at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Washington, D.C.; photo from About.com

Ever on the lookout for images of Millard Fillmore, I found this photo at About.com.  This is the “wax” sculpture of Fillmore displayed at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum – D.C.

Is it art?

More:


In 90 seconds, National Parks stuff you should see in Washington, D.C.

January 27, 2013

National Park Service video, and of course, featuring some stunning time-lapse photography.

696

 


Jefferson Memorial from above

October 27, 2012

Must be rare to get such a reflection of the sky in a calm Tidal Basin pool; from the Department of Interior‘s Instagram:

Jefferson Memorial from the air, Department of Interior photo

From Interior’s Instagram: Last night we posted an aerial photo of the #Washington #Monument, which everyone seems to really enjoy. So we are keeping it going today with a #photo of the #Jefferson #Memorial. #NationalMall #DC

One commenter noted the photo almost makes it appear that the Jefferson Memorial is floating in the clouds.

There are more than 300 units in the National Parks System.  In the past two days we’ve had two spectacular photos from almost the same place, two memorials about a half-mile apart.  How many thousands of great photos are possible from all of these properties?  NPS’s job, caring for all of that stuff, is monumental.

 


Friday Photo: Washington Monument from the top down

October 26, 2012

U.S. Department of Interior, on Instagram:

http://distilleryimage8.instagram.com/7ca1151c1eea11e2957722000a1f9a39_7.jpg

Interior’s Instagram caption: It’s not every day you see the #Washington #Monument from this angle. #dc #mall #bestofteday

For me, additional security in Washington, D.C., has stolen much of the fun, joy and awe of the Washington Monument — compounded by the damage from the 2011 Virginia earthquake.

Before September 2011, the Washington Monument was open until midnight in summer months.  Tourists head off for dinner and hotels at before 6:00 p.m. — the tourist lines disappear, and especially after 10:00 p.m. on most nights, one could, or one and the three or four visiting friends you had could, without waiting catch the elevator to the top for an absolutely matchless view of Washington D.C. at night.

Spy on the White House; spot the tourists dangling feet in the Reflecting Pool at the Lincoln Memorial; see the light in the Capitol Dome indicating Congress in session, and gloat that you were in recreational mode instead.  See a couple kissing on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, thinking no one would see them.  Watch the arc of U.S. Airways airplanes coming down the Potomac River corridor, panicking anyone in the USA Today building who happened to look out and look down on an aircraft passing by, and almost hear the screams from the non-frequent DCA fliers as the plane banked sharply at low level to line up with the runway at National Airport (it will never be Reagan to true aviation buffs, who still miss the controllers who gave us confidence in that thrill ride).

For the Fourth of July, the National Park Service (NPS) used to conduct a lottery to select a tiny handful of professional photographers to shoot the fireworks, one of the best displays on Earth.  The fireworks shoot from near the Lincoln Memorial.  Does NPS do that any more?

Then walk down the stairway, past the hundreds of carved memorial stones, gifts of Americans who wished to honor George Washington by contributing some large, expensive rock to the interior of the obelisk rising Pharoah-style out of the swamp near the Tidal Basin.  Notice the color line shift that marked the Know-Nothing Party control of the group building the monument – the original American Tea Party austerity group, who stopped construction for 20 years just to prove they could impose austerity on those ‘spendthrifts’ who wished to build a monument to a man, even without any public money, and even though they controlled the commission only from 1855 to 1858 (the Civil War intervened).

The Washington Monument, all 555 feet, 5 1/8 inches of it, is closed now.  When I visited last, in June, damage from the earthquake was still being assessed, and to protect the monument and the public, no access to the interior was allowed.  Around the base, the 50 U.S. flags still fly 24 hours each day; but the paths to the monument now have blockades to stop any unauthorized truck, perhaps laden with explosives, and the public benches sat empty where we used to meet small-town Americans awed by the thing, and foreign tourists in awe of America.

The caption from Interior begs more explanation.  Why don’t we see this view?  The Washington Mall — that expanse of grass and, now, museums between the U.S. Capitol on the east end and the Potomac-side Lincoln Memorial on the west — graces pilots’ air charts as a civilian no-fly zone.  After too many small-plane pilots gave the FAA fits, and somebody parked one on the lawn of the White House, FAA banned all flights over the mall, except by police or other official aircraft.  Pragmatically it’s the D.C. cops and Marine One helicopters who might be able to capture this view.

How did Interior get the shot?  The Instagram doesn’t explain. Perhaps it was part of the work to repair and restore the monument from the earthquake.

This picture highlights some interesting things. You can see wear and discoloration of the stone, from weather.  Discoloration is not consistent; you can see how the windows at the top alter the even flow of water.  Acid rain causes the stone to turn gray, then black; the monument is light only from a couple of scrubbings (though, contrary to climate denialist and GOP claims, Clean Air Act control of acid rain reduces the damage since 1972).  Some of the discoloration may be from copper solutions washed off the window frames by the rain.

If you look closely, you can see one of the cracks caused by the earthquake.  At the peak rests a tiny pyramid of aluminum, undistinguishable from the limestone.  Aluminum?  Yes — while the metal is a very common element around the Earth, refining it out of ore was difficult, commercially impossible in the 1880s when the Monument was completed.  As a last tribute to Washington, builders capped it with what was then one of the most precious metals on Earth, aluminum.  Soon after, the advent of mass quantities of generated electricity made aluminum refining commercially viable; today we make disposable drink cans out of what was once the most precious metal on Earth, when purified.  One may ponder how George Washington would consider such technological changes in the nation where he hoped every citizen might have a “vine and fig tree,” first to cap his monument with aluminum, and then make millions of tons of the stuff to throw away.  We are an industrial society to an extent Washington did not, perhaps could not anticipate.  Would he approve?

About a quarter of the way up from the base, you see the color of the limestone changed, as I noted earlier.  All the stone on the face of the monument came from the same quarry; however, during the cessation of construction during the rule of the Know Nothings on the monument commission, rock from the quarry continued to come out, to be used in other projects.  By the time construction on the monument was restarted, rock quarrying pulled out limestone of a slightly darker, more reddish color.  Builders decided to continue with the color variation rather than pull down the stone already stacked.  The Washington monument thus becomes a memorial not only to Washington, but also to the politics he futilely hoped would not affect our nation’s government, even non-governmental commissions working around and about the government.  That color line preserves in stone some of the political errors of the mid-19th century.  It remains unclear whether anyone ever learned a beneficial lesson from those times.

At the base you see patterns of stone unrecognized at ground level (are those white stripes the benches to wait in line to get up to the top?).  Around the monument a phalanx of 50 U.S. flags, which fly constantly (except in hurricanes), and you can see the lights that illuminate the flags and the monument at night.  Flying into Washington, D.C., at night, becomes one of the great vistas of the world, pierced by the shining white spire of the Washington Monument against a black sky (or dark blue, better), and the panorama of great public buildings, also lighted limestone.

Under local and federal zoning rules, skyscrapers are not allowed in that core area, to preserve the buena vista.

And finally, in the photo you can see fewer than a dozen people, colored dots at the base of the structure.  Are they looking up?

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Sunset parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial

June 24, 2012

Into August, the U.S. Marine Corps puts on a Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial, near Washington, D.C., each Tuesday evening.  It’s one of those grand events that is free, but difficult to get into because it’s so popular.

June 19 Marine Corps Sunset Parade at Iwo Jima Memorial - photo by Ed Darrell

For watching, many good seats on the hillside can be found. For perfect photos with the Memorial perfectly framed in the background, get there an hour early.

Well, not difficult to get in — difficult to get a good seat.

Who doesn’t love a parade?

Last Tuesday the parade opened with a selection of numbers from the Marines’ Drum and Bugle Corps (in red coats); they marched off to leave the field for the formal parade, but returned for the close.

The setting is spectacular for watching, with the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol in the background, the stirring statue from the iconic photo, and more men and women in uniform than you can or should shake a sabre at.

Bring your own chair or pad to sit on. We walked over from our hotel in Arlington.  Lots of places to sit among the trees on the hillside to see, and a few thousand other people did the same.  Most of them got there before we did.

Enjoy the show — someone else has probably snapped the perfect picture and you can get it on a postcard.

Crowd at Sunset Parade at Iwo Jima Memorial, 06-19-2012 photo by Ed Darrell

It was a large, respectful crowd out to watch the Marine Corps Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial, June 19, 2012. Panorama photo by Ed Darrell.  Click on photo for a larger version.


Save Our Schools: Teachers march on Washington, no pitchforks, torches, tar or feathers

July 29, 2011

Save Our Schools and other teacher groups organized a march on Washington, a four-day affair to get attention to problems in schools and gain support for education-favorable solutions.

Will their voices be heard over the debt ceiling hostage crisis?  Is it more than coincidence that many of the politicians attacking education lead the effort to ruin the nation’s credit and sink our economy?

Here’s an explanation from EDWeek’s  Politics K-12 blog:

Teachers Converging on Washington for 4-Day Schools Rally

By Michele McNeil on July 28, 2011 5:54 AM
By guest blogger Nirvi Shah

UPDATED

Today kicks off the four-day Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action, a gathering and rally in Washington, D.C., organized by teachers who say they are fed up with test-driven accountability for public schools—and, increasingly, for teachers.

The group, which maintains that it is a grassroots, from-the-ground-up organization, hopes to send a message to national and state policymakers about their displeasure, as well as highlight a variety of principles for improving public education. The group has developed a series of position papers outlining its views on high-stakes testing, equitable funding for all schools, unions and collective bargaining, and changes to curriculum, among other issues. For the most part, the position papers aren’t yet at the level of detail of formal policy prescriptions, and it remains to be seen whether such proposals will emerge from the gathering.

March organizer Sabrina Stevens Shupe said however that policy proposals aren’t necessarily the goal of the events. “What we’re talking about is creating the right conditions, not prescriptive policies,” she said.sosrally-tmb.gif “There’s no one silver bullet that’s going to save anything,” she added, referring to attempts to craft education reforms for the last 30 years.

The big event happens Saturday, when thousands of teachers and supporters of the cause are expected to rally and march at The Ellipse, near the White House. (About 1,000 people have indicated they’ll attend via the movement’s website, but registration is not required, and organizers believe 5,000 to 10,000 marchers will turn out.) The group will wrap up with a closed-door meeting Sunday at which participants will try to determine how to keep the momentum from the rally going. (Movement organizers haven’t disclosed the meeting’s location, and it is not open to press.)

Watch this blog and our issues page for developments from the movement’s events today and through the weekend.

The movement began with a small group of teachers, including Jesse Turner, who walked from Connecticut to the District of Columbia last August to protest the No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top. Their efforts predated actions by state legislatures across the country this spring to curb teachers’ collective bargaining powers and tenure, noted Bess Altwerger, a member of the movement’s organizing committee, who hosted a reception for Mr. Turner last summer. She said the shortcomings of the American public education system do not lie with teachers.

“This has been framed as somebody’s fault—either the parents’ fault or the teachers’ fault,” Ms. Altwerger said. “The fault lies with an education policy that does not work.”

Eventually, both of the nation’s largest teachers unions threw their financial and philosophical support behind the movement.

The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association have donated about $25,000 each to the effort. The bulk of the rest of the donations have come from one-time gifts provided through the Save Our Schools website. Conference organizers estimated that they’d raised over $125,000. After this weekend, they will have to begin fundraising efforts anew to keep their work going.

Taking Message to Obama Administration

Three organizers of the SOS March met Wednesday for an hour with senior-level Education Department officials, including two press officers and the deputy chief of staff. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in attendance for about 10 minutes, and described the meeting as a “good conversation.” He added that “there is a lot of common ground out there.”

(Read the rest of the story from Politics K-12.)

With some luck, a few thousand teachers will show up.  With greater luck, a few thousand other people, concerned parents, perhaps, will join them.

In much of the nation teachers are still stuck fighting for jobs.  Here in Texas, for example, the Texas Lege didn’t get a budget out until June, including dramatically slashed funding for this coming school year.  In some Texas districts we still face layoffs before school starts in just over two weeks.  Many of us don’t have clear assignments, and many more of us will lose basics of teaching, like preparation time, breaks, classrooms, paper, books, and pencils.

Considering the trouble created by political attacks on education in state legislatures this year, much of the attacks wholly unnecessary, it’s a wonder the teachers don’t show up with pitchforks, torches, and tar and feathers.

It’s a crazy world out there.  Help make some sense somewhere, will you?


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