Best Space Photos Of 2016


On the cusp of 2017, say farewell to 2016 wrapped in cosmic wonder. Start by absorbing photo galleries in links below. Pause to consider  grainy 1959 snippets of the first video from space in order to lose your mind over 2016 timelapse. Happy New Year.

This enhanced-color view from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft shows an intricate pattern of linear fractures on the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Strong winds sweep across Mars’ surface. The wind has carved features called “yardangs,” one of many in this scene, and deposited sand on the floor of shallow channels between them where ripples and dunes can be seen.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/photo/201612211048819638-best-space-images-2016/

Saturn and its magnificent rings

Approaching Northern Summer: This view shows Saturn’s northern hemisphere in 2016, as that part of the planet nears its summer solstice in May 2017.

Crash Course

Crash Course: It may look as though Saturn’s moon Mimas is crashing through the rings in this image taken by Cassini, but Mimas is actually 28,000 miles (45,000 kilometers) away from the rings. There is a strong connection between the icy moon and Saturn’s rings, though. Gravity links them together and shapes the way they both move.

https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/2983/cassini-top-10-images-2016/

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Enough With The Snow


Contrary to assumption not all Canadians thrive in winter’s slap. Those of us in south western British Columbia expect winter to follow rules. Rain forest winter needn’t be complicated, decency dictates adherence to basic guidelines – Relentless rain falls from November to February. Every six weeks or so Arctic outflow overpowers Pacific sogginess. Brief sunshine averts total despair. Temperatures plunge below freezing, we speculate on probability of rain or snow. Occasionally timing breaks monotonous rain, delivering just enough snow to ignite frenzied sales of snow shovels, salt and winter tires. Enough to cripple public transit, close schools, unleash ice bombs from suspension bridges and occupy local media until rain washes it away. Residents tolerate inconvenience because rules stipulate winter has an  obligation to keep snow on the mountains.

December 5, 2016 the first measurable snow since February 2014 invaded my space. Rain forest rules said it could stay a few days, snow made other plans. After three frosty weeks I say enough! Walking home from work tonight required nimbleness of a cat. Are you nuts rain forest winter? Fifteen harrowing minutes to walk two blocks, each step calculated to avert calamity. Thick ice, thin ice, black ice. Ice in the air, ice on the wind, ice locked snow. WTF! Photos snapped along the way can’t begin to illustrate treacherous conditions but take my word – this rain forest winter is not normal.

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Children’s Hospital parking lot near my house.

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Looking down my street.

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More car share vehicles than any city in the world is moot if they can’t pull onto a street. Down the block Car2Go suggests angle parking – it isn’t. I personally abandoned the second car four days ago, no match for thick ice under the snow.

Bang Bang America, Hail The Greatest Nation On Earth


Forgive me America, every so often I forget you’re the greatest nation on Earth. Who am I to question your infinite tolerance of gun violence, stoic determination to turn a blind eye, patriotic duty to pack pistols and ever so practiced march to gun lobby bugles. For the record I really like Washington State House Bill 1050. Kudos to Republican representatives Matt Shea, David Taylor and Bob McCaslin for opening the first legislative session of 2017 with a Bill aimed at legalizing concealed weapons at sports arenas – how American of you.

http://www.king5.com/news/local/washington-bill-would-allowed-concealed-guns-in-stadiums/367996835

Please excuse a naive foreigner for forgetting how wonderful you are. Truth is, many sleepless nights were spent commiserating over unimaginable burdens Americans endured during 8 years of left wing assaults on freedom. Stand tall, know it was you who neutralized  bleeding heart liberals bent on obliteration of constitutional rights to lose your shit and sink as many bullets as you damn well please into anyone you please. But for patriotic tenacity your bastion of democracy and reason might have fallen into an abyss of conscience reserved for insignificant nations.

Electing a racist, sexist, narcissistic reality television bobble-head president was a step in the right direction. You must have been pissed when he relented on tossing Hillary in jail, confused by his brief period of restraint, buoyed by the return to American values appointment of patriotic climate change denier Scott Pruitt at EPA’s helm. Make room in your hearts for frailties of a celebrity billionaire president elect, he had a lot on his plate. Come inauguration day nasty allegations of rape and fraud will be forgotten, liberation of the greatest nation on Earth is within reach.

Not only does the world support correction of America’s misplaced priorities, we rejoice in cessation of stifling suggestion Americans are fucked in the head over right to bear arms. Don’t be mad at us for doubting your magnificence, we’re only human. I can explain if you suspend belief to imagine the ignorance of not as great nations deprived of rights to defend themselves, yet muddling through their day without fear. That said, we’re elated America is back on track.

Mindful of patriots struggling with post traumatic stress caused by eight excruciating years of liberal jibber-jabber, I offer some irrefutable rays of light. Great American Wayne LaPierre (leader of the NRA) tweeted “our time is now” on hearing election results.

At an NRA-sponsored event Monday, in the desert north of Phoenix, more than 1,000 gun owners and enthusiasts gathered for a so-called 1000 Man Shoot. Men and women from 16 states lined up shoulder to shoulder to fire 1,000 Henry Golden Boy Silver rifles simultaneously. They fired two rounds at a long row of targets. In the cheers after the second, a shooting safety officer in a lime green shirt and red hat said: “Can you hear us now, Hillary?”

“We made history last week,” Pete Brownell, the first vice president of the NRA, told the crowd. “And I have to tell you it feels great to be on offense again.”

Brownell and other gun rights advocates say that they’ve had to be on defense for the past eight years under the Obama administration.

“We’ve always had to be looking out for how our rights are going to be taken away from us as individuals; how our constitutional rights are going to be impinged upon,” Brownell says. “Now, the ball’s going to be in our court.”

Need more assurance? Click on this link –

http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/npr/502229875/following-election-nra-goes-on-offense-here-s-what-it-could-aim-to-do

Silly America, kick yourselves for doubting erosion of greatness. Superiority doesn’t vanish, it retreats, regroups and comes back stronger than ever. High fives for proposed legislation allowing weapons in sports arenas. Admiration for expected abolition of annoying laws preventing concealed weapon permit holders to transport their arsenal across state lines. Laugh out loud when hippies and freaks suggest temperance. Bang bang America – your staggering indifference is an inspiration to those who seek greatness.

 

Exoplanet Storms Ruby and Sapphire Wind


In 2004 science revealed 55 Cancri e, an exoplanet (planet orbiting a star outside our solar system) whose mass was primarily diamonds. http://www.space.com/18011-super-earth-planet-diamond-world.html This week, analysis of data from NASA satellite Kepler tells of HAT-P-7b, a gas giant 40% larger than Jupiter whose blustery upper atmosphere storms with ruby and sapphire wind.

Tidally locked, the same side of HAT-P-7b always faces a behemoth sun,  completing an orbit every every 2.2 days with day side surface  temperatures exceeding 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. Analysis of extreme temperature variation between day and night sides of HAT-P-7b led to publication of the first exoplanet weather report, a forecast that includes upper atmosphere winds of ruby and sapphire.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2115792-first-exoplanet-weather-report-shows-clouds-of-ruby-and-sapphire/

“These results show that strong winds circle the planet, transporting clouds from the night side to the day side,” he said. “The winds change speed dramatically, leading to huge cloud formations building up, then dying away.”

And those clouds are almost certainly unlike anything here on Earth, the researchers added: Modeling work suggests that HAT-P-7b’s clouds are composed at least partially of corundum, the mineral that forms sapphires and rubies.”

http://www.space.com/34992-giant-alien-planet-ruby-clouds-weather.html

Astronomers at University of Warwick in Coventry, England have detected evidence of the weather on a giant exoplanet outside our solar system. And not just any other weather; the scientists suspect that clouds on the exoplanet are made with corundum, a rock-forming mineral that forms sapphire and ruby.
(Photo : Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

American Environmental Research Scramble


America has been dead to me since election night. Self preservation prescribed absolute avoidance of U.S. media. Hearing his voice, seeing that orange face, reacting to Trumpish ascension without blind rage, perfectly good reasons to wash hands of the sordid affair. All well and good until ambushed by CBC radio this afternoon. But for missing that last green light, I might have been out of the vehicle when “U.S. scientists are scrambling to archive environmental research in Canada before Trump inauguration” shot resolve to smithereens. Oh crap! I knew Trump appointed climate denier Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, now I had to look into the impetus of a news bomb.

Oh man, if knowledge were power America wouldn’t be facing the likes of Scott Pruitt. Ponder Pruitt’s environmental legacy below, followed by a link to “Meet Scott Pruitt”-

May 2011: As Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt sues the EPA, alleging that the federal agency violated its own procedures in rejecting a state plan to reduce regional haze at three coal plants. In May 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Pruitt’s challenge of the EPA’s plan for reducing haze. The EPA’s plan is designed to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants and industrial sources to improve visibility at federally managed wilderness areas such as the 59,000-acre Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton.

It would target coal-fired power plants operated by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. at Red Rock and Muskogee and another operated by American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma at Oologah.

September 2011: Oklahoma joins other states in challenging an EPA regulation of power-plant air pollution that crosses state lines. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the cross-state air pollution rule, which is scheduled to take effect in May 2017.

July 2013: Pruitt and his counterparts in 11 other states sue the EPA in federal court, alleging violations of the Freedom of Information Act. The states sued after the EPA denied a request for communication records between the federal agency and nonprofit environmental groups. Pruitt claimed that the agency encourages certain types of lawsuits by nonprofit environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club. The EPA then settles the suits by entering consent decrees that contain obligations not found in federal law, Pruitt claimed.

A district judge dismissed the lawsuit in December 2013, siding with the EPA’s claims that the records request was overly broad and vague.

April 2014: Pruitt sent a letter to the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, questioning plans to evaluate how the agency and states have done in regulating hydraulic fracturing.

“I am concerned that this project is politically motivated and ignores the EPA’s three previous failed attempts to link hydraulic fracturing to water contamination,” Pruitt wrote. “The U.S. Department of Energy has investigated hydraulic fracturing’s potential harm to water supplies and found no evidence linking the drilling technique to groundwater contamination.”

August 2014: Pruitt joined 11 other states in a suit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gases. Filed in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, the suit specifically seeks to throw out a 2011 settlement in a lawsuit brought against the EPA by 12 states, the District of Columbia and three environmental organizations. In the settlement, the EPA agreed to begin regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

July 2015: Pruitt sues the EPA in Tulsa federal court over the agency’s plan to rein in pollution from coal-fired power plants. In a news release, Pruitt described the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as “an unlawful attempt to expand federal bureaucrats’ authority over states’ energy economies in order to shutter coal-fired power plants and eventually other sources of fossil-fuel generated electricity.” The lawsuit was later dismissed by a judge on jurisdictional grounds.

July 2015: Pruitt files a lawsuit in Tulsa federal court challenging the EPA’s new rules governing pollution controls on waters governed by the Clean Water Act. A judge later dismissed the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds. An appeal is pending.

October 2015: Pruitt joins 26 other states in challenging the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rules just after they became effective. The new rules require states to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Each state has a customized target and is responsible for drawing up an effective plan to meet its goal. All but two of the state challenges were filed by Republicans. The case is still pending in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

August 2016: Pruitt joined a dozen other states in a lawsuit challenging federal regulations for methane emissions from new equipment at oil and natural gas sites. The rules are part of the Obama administration’s goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry more than 40 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/meet-scott-pruitt-man-picked-lead-epa

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/scientists-copy-climate-data-fearing-trump-raze-article-1.2909960

Scott Pruitt is buddies with James Inhofe, fellow Okkie and Republican chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the genius who tossed a snowball on the senate floor as proof God exists, climate change is a hoax, the politician who declared “God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.” https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/senate-snowball/

Scott Pruitt is why U.S. climate researchers scramble to preserve data before Trump’s buffoons assume positions of power.

 

 

Nordstrom Rocks Seasonal Absurdity


Stymied gifters across the land –  unfurl your brow, exhale gratitude for American retailer Nordstrom. Know they understand seasonal distress associated with gifts for those who have everything. Sleep well, Nordstrom has your back, those with everything will cherish an $85 rock. Hesitate at your risk, supplies of “medium leather wrapped stones” are limited. Purchase with confidence, secure in affirmation those with everything don’t possess a leather pouch rock.

Why would those who have everything want a rock? Glad you asked, Nordstrom has the answer –

“A paperweight? A conversation piece? A work of art? It’s up to you, but this smooth Los Angeles-area stone — wrapped in rich, vegetable-tanned American leather secured by sturdy contrast whipstitching — is sure to draw attention wherever it rests.”

Don’t beat yourself up over failure to recognize Nordstrom whimsy. Gifting those with everything is a perilous journey, rejoice in the charity of Nordstrom. But for Nordstrom, the weak among us might have gifted those with everything charitable donations in their name. $85 perfectly good dollars could have fallen to creative or thoughtful expression.

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/nordstrom-selling-85-rock-stone-snob-life-article-1.2900370