Lunar fogbow? Beautiful, whatever you call it

January 10, 2017

I follow Phil Plait to get smart and stay informed about the stars and the universe.

Sometimes it’s just the sheer beauty one finds that wakes you up.

Phil posted this on Twitter, a lunar fogbow:

From Twitter, Phil Plait: Göran Strand (@astrofotografen) captured a VERY rare sight: a lunar fogbow! …

From Twitter, Phil Plait: Göran Strand (@astrofotografen) captured a VERY rare sight: a lunar fogbow!

Plait’s explanations are fun:

Göran Strand is an amazing astrophotographer whose work I’ve highlighted here many times. He has an astonishing skill in making beautiful photographs out of rare and bizarre phenomena.

It’s not just a beautiful photograph. It’s a rather rare phenomenon beautifully captured by Göran Strand, and wonderfully explained by Plait at his blog at Slate:

And here he is once again: That photo above shows that’s quite uncommon sigh: a fogbow! But this being Strand, even that’s not unusual enough. For him, it had to be even more difficult to track down. That’s not just a fogbow, it’s a lunar fogbow!

Fogbows are similar to rainbows, in that they’re caused by water droplets, but in detail they’re very different. In a rainbow, sunlight is bent and reflected inside a raindrop, and sent off at an angle. The drops are big compared to the wavelength of light, so they act a bit like mirrors. Each color of sunlight, though, bends at a slightly different angle, separating them, creating the multihued rainbow.

Plait’s got more good science explanation. Go see.

Strand has photos to sell in various formats. I see in a lot of offices, “inspirational” posters with good photos and occasionally-pithy-but-often-banal sayings and platitudes, hoped by bosses to spur productivity on the cheap. Order up a sizable print from Strand, get the full description of the photo, and mount it in your office instead. You’re likely to discover than genuine natural beauty from awe-inspiring photos spurs creativity and productivity more than the stock photos and stock sayings.

Those photos are starting points for learning, too, teachers. Real photos, worthy of any history, economics, geography, astronomy, chemistry, physics, geological science or environmental science class.

Try ’em and see.





Daytime Moon and jet

April 17, 2014

Passenger jet and Moon.  Photo by Rodger Schmitt, from Lake Powell, Utah.

Passenger jet and Moon. Photo by Rodger Schmitt, from Lake Powell, Utah.

Handheld Nikon.  Nikon stabilizing lens.  Good hands, I’d say.

Third to last time I was out near Lake Powell, I was with Rodger (and about a dozen others) organizing hearings of the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors.  We flew into Page, Arizona, on an Otter II coming up from Phoenix flying low, looking for elk, and legally buzzing Rainbow Bridge (impressive from the air, too).

We had a luncheon meeting at Wahweap Marina, as I recall; no time for boating.

Then we were off to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  There we inspected pine trees 30 feet tall, growing between the ties of the then-abandoned rail lines.  (And did a lot of other stuff.)

Today trains carry tourists to the South Rim on those tracks, the trees gone.  Progress, really.

Rodger carries on in the knowledge that use of the outdoors, especially these public lands, heals souls, and sometimes gives you great photos.

Rodger said I could borrow the photo.  Thanks!

If the Moon were replaced by other planets, what would we see?

August 17, 2013

Odd and interesting idea for a video, from Yeti Animation:  What if the Moon disappeared, and were replaced by other planets in the solar system?  What would it look like?

I like the nonchalance with which the passing auto drivers and passengers treat these views.  Droll.

The ambitious filmmaker, YetPic1, describes the real science and non-science in the film:

Published on May 2, 2013

This is a visualization of what it might be like if the Moon was replaced with some of the other planets at the same distance as our moon. Planets Rendered in 4K resolution! On Change Quality click on “original” to view in 4k. You need a 4k Monitor to watch. otherwise just watch in 1080p or lower

SATURN!.. The super close moon is Dione, the one slightly further out is Tethys
Both are *tiny* but *very* close

In order show[n]:


Mercury is intentionally left off as it isn’t Much bigger than our Moon (and hence is boring)

on Jupiter, you might be able to make out the 4 big moons, They all have orbits larger than our moons orbit. but I stuck them on the far side of jupiter so that they could be seen so it looks as if they are closer (to Jupiter) than they really are.

Video creation method
I created an Earth Moon system in 3dsmax, with accurate sizes and accurate orbital distances.. I than matched video of the real Moon with my video camera, against my model. I also researched the correct FOV of my video camera. I used both methods to verify my Virtual camera’s FOV (around 47 degrees). I next modeled up the rest of the planets in proper scale (Real values) set at the distance of the moon (center to center) (also real values), created the animation of them rotating around, and composited the whole bunch.

Scales used in Visualization:
Celestial Body Radius (in km)
Moon: 1738
Mars: 3397
Venus: 6052
Neptune: 25,269 (equatorial) 24,340 (polar)
Uranus: 25,559 (equatorial) 24,973 (polar)
Jupiter: 71,490 (equatorial) 66,854 (polar)
Saturn: 60,268 (equatorial) 54,360 (polar) (not including rings)

Distance to Moon 384,000km
Faq: (faq shrunk from other video for “reasons”)

1, We would not be engulfed by Jupiter or any other planet, Jupiter’s radius is 71,490 km and the distance to the Moon is 384,000km

2, We would suffer from really really horrible tides and earthquakes(and radiation)

3, I *did* model the Ring of debris around Uranus, I actually modeled 8 of them, but you can mostly just make out 3, This was actually the tipping point for me to render this out in 4k resolution

4, I love Pluto, and Mercury. They are left off because they are too small. Pluto is smaller than our Moon, and Mercury is not significantly larger than our Moon.

5, The “Sun” I used for lighting the planets is completely off from reality,

7 Orbiting! Yes! we would be a moon of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune. They are much more massive than the Earth. Venus is about the same size of the Earth and we would orbit around a center point between us

8 Rotation rates and axial tilts are not accurate to anything

9 Radius of the Sun is 695,500 km, and hence if it were where our Moon is, we would be engulfed by it

10 Scales are Accurate, Every few days someone says my scales are wrong, Or that someone says I’m presenting Saturn as being bigger than Jupiter. I’m going to go through some of the arguments I keep hearing (paraphrasing each)

a. “You’re showing Saturn larger than Jupiter”: I am not, Saturn is clearly smaller than Jupiter in the video, Saturn+ring system *IS* larger than Jupiter (in terms of radius) This is easy to look up.

b. “Jupiter is 300 times larger than Earth! therefore it’s wrong in your video (or 1000 times larger etc)” : There are many sayings about how much larger Jupiter is than earth. 300 is Probably referring to Mass… 1000.. is probably referring to Volume. Without actually specifying the Dimension the argument is pretty moot. I will say this Jupiter’s Radius is about 11 times that of Earths, which fits precisely with my video.

c. “I saw another video where Jupiter Filled the sky!, therefore you’re wrong”: I am very familiar with the video. I even Like the video. However the FOV (field of view) of his Ground does not match the FOV of the planets. In other words, he has a wide angle lens on the ground, and a zoomed lens on the planets. To his own credit he admits this in his own description. In my video My ground FOV and my planet FOV are the same, and hence graphically matched and very reasonably accurate.

d. The confidence I have for my scales being correct is exceptionally high. The dimensions used for the planets and rings has at one point been triple checked along with the earth moon distance. It’s interesting to see how a *few* people have gotten completely worked up over their misconceptions on scale. The size of the Moon is a bit of an illusion, I Think if you still have misconceptions you should hold a dime out to arms length , and hold it against the moon, Or even go out with your own camera,, Zoom out all the way.. and take a photo of the Moon. It really is Tiny against the sky. It’s only about half a degree in angular diameter.

Thanks to everyone for watching, I enjoy making these

Tip of the old scrub brush to Lady Rhian.


Planets of the Solar System

Planets of the Solar System not to scale – Wikipedia image

Goodnight, Moon; farewell, Neil Armstrong; goodbye dream – Oliphant, and Tyson

September 9, 2012

Two thoughts:

Pat Oliphant cartoon, on death of Neil Armstrong, and dreams to go to the Moon

Pat Oliphant cartoon, upon the death of Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the Moon.

And this one, with Neil de Grasse Tyson, “We stopped dreaming”:

Oliphant’s cartoon shows a future under Mitt Romney and continued GOP domination of the House and Senate — no more Neil Armstrongs doing peaceful work for NASA, like going to the Moon.  Tyson expresses hope for something different.

No, it’s not “time to come inside, Grampaw.”  It’s time to vote.  Vote for the guys whose budget doesn’t say “America cannot afford to be great anymore, American cannot afford to dream.”

Ha!  A third thought:

Cover of Goodnight, Moon

Cover of Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, with illustrations by Clement Hurd


XKCD debunks claims of the Moon landing hoax

June 28, 2012

Kenny’s right — this is a pretty good debunking of the Moon landing hoax hoax.  Good old XKCD:

XKCD debunking of Moon landing hoax claims

With debunking this clever, don’t you think this strip is one you should read every day?

Grateful tip of the old scrub brush, to Kenny Darrell in the wilds of darkest Connecticut.


Cropped from Image:AldrinFlag2.jpeg (now calle...

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon (Cropped from Image:AldrinFlag2.jpeg (now called Image:NASA AS-11-40-5875.jpg) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still U.S. flags on the Moon?

July 7, 2011

One of the most dramatic categories of evidence that the U.S. landed men on the Moon is the detritus and other stuff they left behind.  Now we have satellites orbiting the Moon that can send back images of the landing sites with an amazing amount of detail.

Around the 4th of July somebody usually wonders how those flags left behind, are doing.

CBS News reporter Jim Axelrod asked around; you can see his report at YouTube (CBS disallows embedding of these reports, so you’ll need to click the image a couple of times to go to the YouTube site for CBS):

(720 views of this report when I posted this; come on, news hounds, flag fliers and Moon and history buffs, you can boost that total.)

July 4, 2011 – Fly your flag today

July 3, 2011

Fourth of July: NPR has already read the Declaration of Independence, PBS broadcast the Capitol Fourth concert  last night (maybe a rebroadcast is available — check your local listings), your town has a parade somewhere this weekend, and fireworks are everywhere.

Remember to put your flag up today.

Astronaut Eugene Cernan and the U.S. Flag -- Apollo 17 on the Moon (NASA photo)

Last flag on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and the U.S. Flag -- Apollo 17 on the Moon (NASA photo)


Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photo of Apollo 17 landing site

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photo of Apollo 17 landing site

This is mostly an encore post, but I so love that photo of the flag with the Earth in the distance.

Happy birthday, Kathryn!

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