Milky Way over New Zealand

August 3, 2015

Screen capture of one frame of Mark Gee's short film, "After Dark."

Screen capture of one frame of Mark Gee’s short film, “After Dark.”

Great little .gif, of the night sky in New Zealand.

From a Tweet by BBC Earth.  It’s taken from a slightly longer film put together by Mark Gee.

1440 individual photographs captured over 13 hours cut together into one incredible time-lapse video.

Photographer and videographer Mark Gee shot this breath-taking footage of the southern skies around his hometown of Wellington, New Zealand. The stunning one-minute clip is a collection of Mark’s most memorable night sky moments over the past year.

The majority of the video was shot on Wellington’s South Coast (watch out for air traffic) while the campfire and the camping scenes were filmed in Cape Palliser and the Tararua Ranges.

From Gee’s Youtube site, the longer film (1 minute!):


Catching the Subway, in Zion National Park, Utah

July 25, 2015

US Department of Interior Tweet: Simply stunning: That's the only way we can describe @ZionNPS's Subway. Pic by Tiffany Nguyen #Utah

US Department of Interior Tweet: Simply stunning: That’s the only way we can describe @ZionNPS’s Subway. Pic by Tiffany Nguyen #Utah

Gotta get back there.

James and Michelle made a trek there in 2013.

Subway in Zion Canyon National Park, photo by Michelle Xiang Li, 2013 (some rights reserved)

Subway in Zion Canyon National Park, photo by Michelle Xiang Li, 2013 (some rights reserved)

I wonder if it’s possible to take a dozen photos there without a few that take your breath away.

Rock, water and leaves. Photo from the Subway trip, by Michelle Xiang Li, 2013

Rock, water and leaves. Photo from the Subway trip, by Michelle Xiang Li, 2013


Wind power ready for its closeup?

June 27, 2015

Climate Progress used this photo in a Tweet touting Denmark’s wind power progress:

Denmark sets world record for wind power production http://thkpr.gs/3608898   (No other photo information in Tweet)

Denmark sets world record for wind power production http://thkpr.gs/3608898 (Photo credit: flickr/Vattenfall)

Awesome photograph, a 21st century version of those photos of men, machines, bridges and other industrial objects admired for their symmetry and sharp shadows from the 1920s and 1930s. I would guess it was captured by an airplane passenger passing over the at-sea windfarms springing up around Europe’s Atlantic Coast, off the coast of Denmark, if Climate Progress editors were careful.

Scientifically, the photo shows what happens when windmills reduce the air pressure downwind of the blades — condensation can suddenly become visible.  Condensation trails from windmills (won’t that vex the hell out of chemtrails tinfoil hatters?).

The photo illustrates what should be good news:

Denmark has been long been a pioneer in wind power, having installed its first turbines in the mid-1970s when oil shocks sent the import-dependent nation on a quest for energy security. Thirty-seven years later, the country has set a new world record for wind production by getting 39.1 percent of its overall electricity from wind in 2014. This puts the Northern European nation well on track to meet its 2020 goal of getting 50 percent of its power from renewables.

The news of Denmark’s feat adds to the national records the U.K. and Germany set for 2014 and further establishes Europe as a leader in the wind power industry. This is especially true when it comes to offshore resources, as countries like Scotland, England, and Denmark build out their offshore wind farms. Wind generated enough electricity to power just over 25 percent of U.K. homes in 2014 — a 15 percent increase from 2013. In December, Germany generated more wind power, 8.9 terawatt-hours, than in any previous month.

A big source of the surge of Denmark’s wind production this year came from the addition of around 100 new offshore wind turbines. In January of 2014, the peninsular country got just over 61 percent of its power from wind. This is more than three times the overall production of 10 years ago, when wind only made up 18.8 percent of the energy supply. The country has a long-term goal of being fossil fuel-free by 2050.

Anti-greens, and rational conservationists, see trouble though. Anti-greens holler that the windmills “kill birds,” as if the coal power plants the windmills displace do less environmental damage.  They will bring this up in every discussion of alternative energy sources, and in every discussion of working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to decrease pollution and damage from climate change.  I suppose they want us to throw up our hands and give up on conservation.  (Industry agents like CFACT have no compunction against giving half-truths on these issues.)

Conservationists, like Chris Clarke, see the dangers.  Bird kills do occur at wind farms, in greater numbers than any conservationist is comfortable with.  Off-shore wind farms could hammer migrating populations of songbirds and other migratory fowl, in addition to the sea-dwelling birds.  Few solid studies on bird damage exist.  We are particularly the dark about the songbirds, who migrate in enormous avian clouds at night.  An article in Nature sums up issues:

Wind turbines kill far fewer birds in general each year than do many other causes linked to humans, including domestic cats and collisions with glass windows. But wind power has a disproportionate effect on certain species that are already struggling for survival, such as the precarious US population of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos canadensis).

“The troubling issue with wind development is that we’re seeing a growing number of birds of conservation concern being killed by wind turbines,” says Albert Manville, a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Arlington, Virginia.

It is good news that wind power can replace fossil fuels. But industrial-sized enterprises inherently create environmental problems. Our policy makers need to be alert to the issues involved, and create incentives for development of alternative energy sources that will prevent our falling into the rut of industrial development that comes at enormous costs pushed to future generations.

Who is looking out for the birds? Can there be anyone who argues we should give up on climate change because of problems from alternative energy, really?

Chris Clarke tells us the problems, that we need accurate, relevant information, and we don’t have a methodical process to get it:

The issue of eagles being harmed by wind turbines in the U.S. is a huge topic, to put it mildly. And yet a paper documenting two eagle mortalities at a wind turbine facility in the last 20 years is “conceptually novel” enough to merit publication in a prestigious wildlife science journal.

Put it this way: The scientific community has more information on deaths among marine mammals, which spend much of their time in places it’s hard for us to get to, than it does about injuries and deaths to rather conspicuous birds in industrial facilities. Hell, we have better, more solid data on planets outside our solar system than we do on eagle mortalities at wind energy plants in California.

One could ask the rhetorical question “why is that the case,” but it’s almost a waste of time: it’s because wind energy companies would strongly prefer that data never gets released to the public.

And that’s what peer-reviewed journals are, for all their abstruse language and incomprehensible math and absurd paywalls: public information. Once that data gets analyzed and put in context by independent biologists, it becomes available to us all.

[USGS research ecologist Jeffrey] Lovich puts it this way:

Minimizing wildlife mortality at wind farms is a major goal of conservation, although research on how best to do that is in short supply. Compiling and publishing accurate data on mortality of Golden Eagles over time is an important first step in efforts to protect these iconic birds.

And doing so in the clear light of day is crucial if we in the public are ever to make scientifically sound decisions about our energy policy, regardless of whether we put windpower or wildlife first.

Who will provide that information? Who will even ask for it? If we can’t get consensus on whether we should save humanity’s home on Earth, how can we get consensus on asking the questions about how to go about it, and how to learn how to do it?


Top 15 places to stargaze in California’s BLM lands

June 16, 2015

I’m stealing this wholesale from the Tumblr site of the U.S. Department of Interior, America’s Great Outdoors.

The site features great Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites often, and this week will highlight places on BLM lands in California that are great for stargazing.  They call it a “social media takeover” of the feed by California BLM.

How good is the star watching? Look at these photographs.  (I’ve added a few comments of my own.)

Piper Mountains Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Piper Mountains Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Another great place to see the Milky Way.

King Range National Conservation Area, California, by Bob Wick

King Range National Conservation Area, California, by Bob Wick

These photos are stunning. These .gifs also demonstrate how the atmosphere really is a fluid, flowing over mountains — “the curvaceous hills of California,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called them in a travelogue he delivered from the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.  Teachers, not just great geography illustrations, but also illustrations for environmental science and physics.

Amargosa Wild and Scenic River, California, by Bob Wick

Amargosa Wild and Scenic River, California, by Bob Wick

 

San Gorgonio Wilderness, California, by Dan Maus

San Gorgonio Wilderness, California, by Dan Maus

 

Slinkard Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Slinkard Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Slinkard Wilderness? I admit I do not know of some of these places.  I’m willing to learn, first hand . . .

Kingston Range Wilderness, BLM California, by Bob Wick, BLM

Kingston Range Wilderness, BLM California, by Bob Wick, BLM

 

California Coastal National Monument, California, by Bob Wick

California Coastal National Monument, California, by Bob Wick

California Coastal National Monument reminds me that Republicans in Congress push a proposal to prevent future presidents from protecting such lands with National Monument designation under the Antiquities Act. Critics say these BLM lands are not special enough to merit protection.

Do the photos say otherwise?

North Maricopa Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

North Maricopa Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

 

Cadiz Dunes Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

Cadiz Dunes Wilderness, California, by Bob Wick

 

Point Arena-Stornetta in California Coastal National Monument, California, by Bob Wick

Point Arena-Stornetta in California Coastal National Monument, California, by Bob Wick

 

A printer-friendly, and search engine-friendly list of the sites above, if you’re putting them into your GPS or search feature to plan your vacation:

mypubliclands:

June #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover: Top 15 Places to Stargaze on the #mypubliclandsroadtrip in BLM California

1. Amargosa Wild and Scenic River
2. Cadiz Dunes Wilderness
3. California Coastal National Monument
4. Carrizo Plain National Monument
5. Fort Ord National Monument
6. Kingston Range Wilderness
7. Little Black Sands Beach in King Range National Conservation Area
8. Lost Coast Trail at King Range National Conservation Area
9. North Maricopa Wilderness
10. Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area
11. Piper Mountains Wilderness
12. Point Arena-Stornetta in California Coastal National Monument
13. San Gorgonio Wilderness
14. Slinkard Wilderness
15. Whipple Mountains Wilderness

Thanks for following the June #conservationlands15 features on My Public Lands Tumblr, and our takeover of americasgreatoutdoors Instagram account (https://instagram.com/usinterior/). Stay tuned all week as the #mypubliclandsroadtrip visits these top 15 California spots for stargazing and much more.

Bob Wick and Dan Maus may have the best jobs in U.S. government service, judging by their photos.  Nice of them to share.

What do your shots from those places look like?  Show us in comments, maybe?


Milky Way at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison N.P.

June 14, 2015

From the Facebook site of the U.S. Department of Interior: Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado and see some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock and craggiest spires in North America. Pictured here is a stunning shot of the #MilkyWay rising above the Black Canyon. Photo courtesy of Greg Owens — at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

From the Facebook site of the U.S. Department of Interior: Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado and see some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock and craggiest spires in North America. Pictured here is a stunning shot of the #MilkyWay rising above the Black Canyon. Photo courtesy of Greg Owens — at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Looking at that river, it’s difficult to understand that it’s just half the flow.  Ranchers and farmers bored a tunnel to channel half the water of the river to the Uncompahgre Valley through the 5 mile-long Gunnison Tunnel, completed in 1909.  Many of the overlooks into the incredibly steep canyon reveal only snippets of the ribbon of water that runs the whole length of the canyon.

I like how this photograph captures reflected light off the water, and makes the river appear easier to see than it usually is, especially at night.

Stunning geology, great hikes — you should go.

Especially you should go if you think about the geology that contradicts creationism.  The canyon is loaded with volcanic inserts that deny flood geology and every other geological distortion offered by creationists, maybe better than the Grand Canyon in that regard.

More:


Milky Way from a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

June 3, 2015

Ready to go camping this summer?

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Starry sky from near Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bryce Bradford

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Starry sky from near Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bryce Bradford

Bryce Bradford captured the Milky Way from Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park.

More:


Moon rise over Joshua Tree National Park

May 5, 2015

Four minutes of a glorious full Moon rising over Joshua Tree National Park — reduced to a 6-second Vine.

I do like a little well-done time lapse. In this one, the action of the clouds playing peek-a-boo with the Moon is a lot of fun. It’s just the sort of astronomical action I love to watch in the National Parks.

Desert sunset at Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree NP. Photo by Brad Sutton/NPS

Desert sunset at Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree NP. Photo by Brad Sutton/NPS

I wonder where Lian Law took that time-lapse of the Moon.  Anyone know?

More:

Screen capture of the Moon rise Vine video by Lian Law, National Park Service.

Screen capture of the Moon rise Vine video by Lian Law, National Park Service.


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