Monday, February 25, 2013

Global warming = less clear nights?

Last week I received an email from Allison who was working on an infographic on the problem of global warming.  I looked it over and it looks pretty good, so I'm sharing it on my blog at her request.
(Click to see infographic)
I often get emails to our club site from people asking "when is your next star party?" I never have a really good answer for them other than nicely saying something like "we don't even try anymore since we'll end up with more cancelled events rather than viewings."  If scheduling a public viewing would cause skies to clear, we would do it a couple times a month!  But again, even during the summers over the last several years, we hardly get reliable weather to do this.  A couple summers ago, I worked for about a month to do a star party for a school group in Maple Valley - in early summer even - and after 4 tries had to give up due to weather.
I think I like to call this a "global climate shift" which I think describes the problem clearer than "global warming".  With all the harsh winters on the East coast over the last years (this winter is another bad one), and here in Seattle the last few years our summers haven't really started on the usual July 5th date when summer usually starts (no, I'm not joking about July 5th either - ask any native here!). I've also noticed with great disgust and frustration that the number of clear skies at night has decreased noticeably over the last 4 years or so.  Just a few years ago, we would have many clear winter nights (very cold of course, but very clear and stable atmosphere) with many chances to observe the winter skies visually or through astrophotography.  This winter is no exception, I've had our observatory open twice over the last 3 months - and even then conditions were not ideal, but it's all I've had.  Could it simply be the "new toy curse" that seems to plaque astronomers whenever they buy a nice piece of gear to try out?

Anyway, read the infographic link below to see the full size view and see if you agree also.  I think I would add a line to that says "less clear nights for Northwest Astronomers" to that graphic!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

More from Russia...

Another good one I came across. This looks like a space shuttle launch - but in reverse with the big smoke cloud behind it. Why don't we ever get lucky to see something like this in Seattle? Maybe it does happen, but it's cloudy!
Kind of interesting the similarities of this scene with the one in the Deep Impact movie from a few years back.


Fiction (Scene from Deep Impact - some similarities!)

Other side of the Russian Meteor

I came across another good video compilation of the Russian attack from space.  This time we see the impact of the shockwave as it hits as well as the windows breaking.
I wonder if the woman at 2:15 got the job she was interviewing for?  Ha!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Russian Meteor

So unless you have been in a cave the last few days, you have probably heard of the asteroid that passed close to Earth last week. That was fun, but what was even more impressive was the totally unrelated chunk of rock that hit over Russia the same day. Kind of like "Tunguska II" if it was a movie. But this one was probably smaller even though it was reported to have the power of the atomic bomb, it blew up at a high altitude and only broke a lot of windows and cut up a about 1,000 people from glass. Here is a good collection of videos of the event from a guy in Russia that collected them an posted them on a web page. I'll admit that I was quite unproductive this morning at work since I had to look at all these!

Infographic on the event. I just noticed one error, the "GPS orbit" should read "Geosynchronous orbit" (this is the orbit that the TV satellites live) - where "Honey Boo Boo" is beamed to Earth from.
| Russian meteor videos |