naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Thanks to [ profile] montyy0 for the reminder... it's today!

James Cook and the Transit of Venus

I'll likely watch one of the webcasts linked above, or I might possibly bring my binoculars, duct tape, and a couple pieces of white cardboard to work to build an optical projector on my lunch hour (instructions are here).

That reminds me... I discovered a new-to-me podcast just now which I've added to my subscriptions in iTunes: 60-Second Science is by the folks at Scientific American magazine. It's now on my list of science-related or environmental-related podcasts that includes:

Nature Podcast
NOVA scienceNOW
NPR: Environment
Science @ NASA Feature Stories Podcast
Science Friday - Making Science Radioactive

What podcasts do you listen to?

And yes, thanks to LOPSA I'm also now adding In The Trenches, a podcast by sysadmins for sysadmins hosted by Kevin Devin and George Starcher. Yay LOPSA!

Edited to add: It's about 1:20pm here and I took my binoculars and a piece of white cardboard (and a few bemused coworkers) outside. We didn't have a tripod so the image was wobbly, but we were able to spot the tiny black dot on the image of the sun projected onto the cardboard. Cool!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (autumn bountiful harvest)
The sunrise is really beautiful again this morning. For the past year or more I've been quite the night owl, but over the past few months I've been waking just before dawn, and enjoying the sunrises.

The sky is really, really gorgeous just as the first tinges of orange line the horizon.

Right now I'm sitting near an east-facing window with my laptop and a mug of hot chai... now that I'm at home more I'm experimenting with a few types of chai trying to find one with comforting/addictive properties similar to the sort I used to buy at Broad Cafe every few mornings or so.

I've gradually been importing all of my music CDs into iTunes, and from there to my iPod, so my laptop is currently shuffling through my Battlefield Band tunes.

I adore the Battlefield Band. I have ever since I heard one of their appearances on A Prairie Home Companion when I was in middle school, listening to it on WFYI with my parents. They played a handful of strathspeys and reels and had folks practically dancing in the aisles, and played some mournful ballads, and their sensibilities blended so well with Garrison Keillor's own particular brand of humor... each of the musicians introduced himself, and explained what musical instruments they played... traditional Scottish tin whistles, traditional Scottish drums like the bodhran, traditional Scottish bagpipes, traditional Scottish synthesizers... made from traditional Scottish plastic...

And then they announced that they were going to play a surfing song from the Outer Hebrides.

There was a dramatic pause.

Then, they launched into Bad Moon Rising, on the fiddle and the bagpipes.

I adore it. Dad had made a cassette tape of the broadcast, and I made a copy... I listened to it so much I wore the cassette out. And I made another copy.

I still have it here in my two tubs of cassette tapes. But I also have a large number of their CDs, including On The Rise (Amazon will let you listen to a snippet here if you have Windows Media Player), which has Bad Moon Rising on it, along with After Hours, another of my favorites. Their music is also available direct from Temple Records' online web storefront, which has a bigger selection of their CDs than Amazon, as well as a number of free MP3 downloads.

I've yet to find a Battlefield Band song I dislike. Some are very mellow, others are dancably peppy, others are melancholy to the point where if I'm having a really down day I don't want to listen to them or they'll worsen my mood, but I love them all.

I only wish more of the recordings of their music had Alan Reid's introductions to the songs. He has the most amazing sense of humor...

A dear friend of mine went to extraordinary effort to remind me to attend their recent performance at Beckman Auditorium on November 5th. I'm so grateful, because the joy I found within myself during the performance has rattled around in my head and... I don't know... maybe the echoes are reverberating in my soul. Or something like that.

By the way, the Battlefield Band's website says that they're going to be appearing on A Prairie Home Companion again on November 26th. :-)

Lately I've been... I don't know what the right word is... transforming, awakening, reawakening... and reconnecting with what brings me real joy. Some little things, some big things, some nostalgic things which have been present in my life before and now are returning in a new form, some things which in the past I've known I wanted but for various perfectly reasonable reasons set those insights and desires aside temporarily, and some new things which somehow feel like I'm returning home when I find them.

In some climates, autumn is a time of harvest and endings, of the world going dormant and resting as the temperature drops and the soil rests. The plants and animals conserve their energy for the rough, dark months ahead, or hibernate through the winter. I know those lessons. But here in southern California, in the urban jungle of Los Angeles, the bulbs I've planted in the pots on my porch are just sending up new shoots, and the fiery colors of the gum tree leaves are falling onto the brightening green of new grass.

I've said this before elsewhere, but something about this place, this climate, makes it difficult to note time passing. If the turn of the seasons is as subtle as it is here, and the bright sunshine and seventy-two degree days come one after the other after the other, people's time-sense can become so skewed. Some things from a decade ago feel as though they happened yesterday, and it is so easy to put off large goals until tomorrow because yesterday was so like today.

But watching the stars and planets overhead during the dark nights, far above the twinkling of the city lights and the neverending flow of the freeways... watching the sunrise as day after day the sun springs over the horizon in a slightly different spot, watching the plants and listening to the change in the wind... time speaks differently here, but it is speaking, just as it speaks everywhere.

I'm also starting to experiment with podcasts... one of my favorites is another gem I first found on National Public Radio... Stardate is a short astronomy update. You can now listen to it online or as a podcast, or you can read it daily via an RSS feed (here on LiveJournal it's available via [ profile] stardateorg).

Somehow I'm fitting my song of new beginnings, farewell to endings, and insights into myself and the world into this sunny autumn. The horizon's orange edge has brightened to bright pale blue, and the sun rises, accompanied by fiddles and bagpipes.

Good morning!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
The robotic Mars rovers have friends. Lots of friends. They still seem to be trying to decide what to call their nonterrestrial blogspace, but they're very entertaining. Some of the long-range probes are very lonely, some of the satellites are flirting with each other, the earlier rovers are fangirling the newer models, the Hubble is posting art rather than poetry, and it all started with [ profile] spiritrover and [ profile] opportunitygrrl. If you're curious, check out my friendslist; I've friended all of them that I've found.

Also, as I just mentioned to a friend this past weekend, I used to be able to remember which planets were in the night sky at various times. I kept up with it, you know? And it's been ages since I've done that. Living in Los Angeles means that I see fewer stars than I'm used to, but the planets are usually visible even with all the extra light around. And yes, even though I've been here pretty much constantly since 1992, I still expect the sky to look like the sky I grew up with.

[ profile] sclerotic_rings links to an article here that caught my attention just in time... next Sunday, all five of the visible planets will be visible in the evening sky at the same time. That's cool.

And I am quite amused that the Sumerian Word of the Day over at [ profile] sumerianwotd (which is now dutifully written on the back of my hand) is "mul" -- constellation.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Google News links to a bunch of articles about the black hole humming B-flat, 57 octaves below middle-C.

NASA's press release about it


ETA: Yahoo News followup: Sounds in Space: Silencing Misconceptions
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
There are some absolutely gorgeous photos online of last night's lunar eclipse here and here (click on the Photo Gallery link).

This is a neat article about the timing of eclipses.

This is a cool tool for backyard star- and planet-gazing. Now maybe I can finally figure out what planets I see in the sky at sunset!

And this is a really interesting starting point with links to all sorts of lunar information and photos.

La Luna

May. 15th, 2003 10:01 pm
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Modern technology tonight allowed me to appreciate nature's majesty with my parents, three time zones away. That is so cool...

I went to the roof of the building where I work; they were in their backyard; we each have cell phones. And we watched the moon together.

For me most of the sky was lavender-blue overhead, with a lovely orange-to-scarlet-to-lavender sunset behind me streaked with a few pale clouds catching the last light of the day. A light mist, tinged pinkish-orange by the city lights, hovered close over Los Angeles along the horizon to the south and east of me. The view was clear toward the western sunset and the San Gabriel mountains to the north. The shrouded moon slowly rose as only a sliver, already nearly obscured from the sun's bright light by the earth, and slimmed noticeably as the sunset faded and twilight fell.

For them the moon was well-risen and the velvet sky was dark enough to see a full scattering of stars as the earth's shadow slipped across the moon.

They could see the constellations overhead; I could pick out a planet or two, and a few stars here and there, and a line of lights strung brightly in the sky... airplanes lined up on approach to land in the city of angels.

My parents have now gone to bed. The eclipse is ending, and the moon brightens once more. As darkness deepens here it has risen enough that students walking across campus crane their necks to see it in between buildings. Finals are coming up, and everyone is busy, but not too busy to pause mid-errand to catch a quick glimpse of our satellite's orbit in action.

Sometimes I really, really love working here. I stopped at the student coffeehouse for a milkshake (since they're only open from 8 or 10pm until 2am most nights, and make really good milkshakes) before typing this up and heading home.

ETA: Upon arriving home, I could look up and slightly southeast, and there, shining brightly in the night sky, is the moon in its full glory. Just beautiful.

To see what the eclipse looked like from Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles using your browser's Quicktime plugin, click and scroll down.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Tonight's total lunar eclipse (from 8:14pm Pacific time, reaching totality at 8:40pm Pacific time) has me thinking about other space news items...

You can send your name to a comet. NASA's JPL has a project called Deep Impact which is sending a list of names on a disc attached to the impactor spacecraft, which will collide with comet Tempel 1 as part of its research mission.

Last Friday a Japanese rocket launched with the world's first probe designed to bring back samples from the surface of an asteroid. is a great site to get the latest space-related news, by the way. They have a whole subsection about the moon, with gorgeous images, scientific information and lunar lore.

The next lunar eclipse with be visible from North and South America in November.

Also in November, believe it or not, you can view a total solar eclipse over Antarctica on a charter flight that will also fly over the South Pole. I'm betting that if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it...

February 2017

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