Winning Dark Sky Images


In May of this year the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) held its first annual Capture the Dark photography competition. Tasked with capturing  “meaning of the night”, participants were invited to submit images in one of five categories – Connecting to the Dark, International Dark Sky Places, Impact of Light Pollution, Bright Side of Lighting and Youth.

Connecting to the Dark winner –

Child with butterfly net containing several stars, star in deep blue sky just above net.

View larger | Mihail Minkov captured this photo, which is titled Star Catcher. The photo is from the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria. It’s the 1st-place winner in 2020’s IDA photo contest, in the Connecting to the Dark category.

International Dark Sky Places winner –

Milky Way above steep wooded valley with rocky stream in foreground.

iew larger. | Jean-Francois Graffand captured this image at the Pic du Midi International Dark Sky Reserve in France. It’s the winner in the International Dark Sky Places category. The photo is titled Dark Night in Pyrénées Mountains.

Impact of Light Pollution winner –

A few stars visible in brightly lit night sky above hills with square tower in distance.

View larger. | Petr Horálek captured this image at the Great Wall of China. It’s the winner in the Impact of Light Pollution category. The photo is titled Remembering the Old Times.

Bright Side of Lighting winner –

Milky Way arching over streaming waterfall in hills with nearby evergreen trees.

View larger. | Jean-Francois Graffand captured this photo at the Pyrénées National Parc in France. It’s the winner in the Bright Side of Lighting category. It’s titled The Celestial River.

Youth winner –

Milky Way over distant farm building past wide field of red paintbrush flowers and bluebonnet flowers.

View larger.| Nayana Rajesh, age 16, captured the winning entry in the Youth category. The photo is set in Ennis, Texas. It’s titled “The Barn.”

View all winning and finalist submissions – https://darksky.app.box.com/s/yzvnppjej02asjtwvjsxmyr4twxr3e8g

Read more at – https://earthsky.org/earth/ida-2020-photo-contest-winners-night-sky-images?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=868f0bb18e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-868f0bb18e-393970565

Quarantine Playlist


Music is a powerful elixir, tonic capable of lifting spirits with inexplicable harmonic energy. Tonight’s quarantine playlist started with Casual Viewin’ by iconic Canadian band 54-40, a curious choice considering their vast catalogue and undeniable place on my top ten list of favorite bands. 54 40 could sing the phonebook and I’d be happy, Casual Viewin’ makes me smile, if that’s not quarantine tonic I don’t know what is.

Next played Over Everything by Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Two fav artists joining to produce a song that makes me feel good –

For no discernible reason I turned to old school hip hop. Beatie Boys and Salt N Pepa –

Currently I’m digging Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel –

Quarantine playlists are fascinating. What we listen to speaks volumes about our mindset.

Cannibal Spiders


I doubt spiders come to mind when pondering impacts of global warming at northern latitudes. Climate change has had a profound effect on Arctic Wolf Spiders, nobody cares because spiders are easily dismissed. Fun fact – in terms of biomass, wolf spiders in the Arctic outweigh that of regional wolf populations by 80 – 1. That’s a lot of spiders – thanks to longer, warmer summers they’re getting bigger and producing more offspring.

Nature has a uncanny ability to adapt when challenged with brief periods of climatic change. In 2009 researchers predicted warmer Arctic seasons would boost wolf spider size and numbers. Springtails, their prey of choice are wingless fungi eating hexapods. “Science’s Michael Price explains that springtails subsist on a diet of fungi, which consume decomposing plants and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. But when wolf spiders keep the springtail population in check, the insects consume less fungus, which triggers faster decomposition of the tundra’s dead plant matter—and more greenhouse gases.” – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-wolf-spiders-evolving-diet-keeping-arctic-cool-180969735/

Science expected dense populations of wolf spiders to initially cannibalize their own, consume anything smaller than themselves while sorting out territory. They thought more wolf spiders meant fewer fungus nibbling springtails, but that hasn’t happened. Seems climate enhanced hoards of wolf spiders developed a taste for their own, ignoring springtails, favouring opportunistic ambushes of smaller spiders.

Science can’t explain why cannibal wolf spiders no longer fancy springtails. It can state as fact – higher springtail populations mean less fungus, slower decomposition of organic material, thus significantly less greenhouse gas released by the process of decomposition. Are cannibal wolf spiders Mother Nature’s way of mitigating the mess we’ve made?

Wolf spiders may turn to cannibalism in a warming Arctic

https://phys.org/news/2020-05-wolf-spiders-cannibalism-arctic.html

Zoonotic Ponder


Zoonotic ( zoonoses ) refers to infectious disease transmitted from animals to humans. Hard fact – over 60% of infectious disease contracted by humans are zoonotic, 75 % of new emerging diseases have zoonotic origins. From mosquito, rodent, bat, flea, beaver,  to water contaminated courtesy cow dung, nature doesn’t blink at inflicting humanity with respiratory or gastrointestinal disease. Zoonotic encompasses viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic human infection.

https://www.healthline.com/health/zoonosis#list-of-diseases

Chances are COVID-19 is zoonotic, so why all the conspiracy jibber-jabber? The SARS outbreak of 2002-2004 is widely accepted as zoonotic transmission from cave dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan Province, China to humans via intermediary civet cat hosts. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak (and if you believe China is actually cracking down on farmed wildlife destined for sale as meat ) exotic wildlife for human consumption never raised a brow in China. Have conspiracy theorists forgotten viral videos of Chinese foodies chomping the head off bats in high end restaurants, or annihilating live baby mice in a bowl of broth? By what stretch of imagination did conspiracy ignore zoonotic covid-19 infection in favour of some nefarious bio-weapon laboratory goof?

I’m tired of conspiracy theorists pointing hysterical fingers at everything from Bill Gates to secretive new world orders, biological warfare or targeted population purge. I get it, people are upset, they’re in denial, searching for something to blame. Anything is possible, but until evidence proves otherwise – COVID-19 is zoonotic.  Everyone needs to chill.

 

 

Springtime STEVE Sightings


STEVE ( Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement ) might look like an aurora, but it’s not. STEVE is an atmospheric phenomenon characteristic of northern hemisphere spring and fall. The result of uppity solar wind messing with Earth’s magnetic field. Meddling which allows ribbons of super heated gas travelling at speeds exceeding 13,000 mph to create observable arcs of soft purple hues. STEVE favours latitudes between +50N and +55N. Go STEVE! Hope to meet you one day.

Photo credit – Jocelyn Blanchette

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/3/eaaq0030.full

Sheesh!


Found this comment in my Quora feed. Copied verbatim, grammatical errors intact for additional reading pleasure.

We start by knowing the Corvir-19 was developed at Yale university, by a professor and two students, one from Ministry Of Defense, and other an officer of Chinese Army.

FBI was alerted by a large transfer of money from China to the Professor. The money was originally routed from 3 countries and from a Sorros’ foundation. Sorros is allegiant to democratic party. In hoping to disrupt our economy and point it as a failure on trump.

In 2008, the Obama administration dropped the ball and over 1,000 in the U. S. died of the Swine flu. The main stream networks did not cover Swine flu as much of Corvir-19, even though over a thousand citizen of the United states died.

Here today less that 20 citizens have died to Cororna Virus, and mainstream media acts like its the end of the world. Where is the transparency of main stream media, law enforcement FBI, and the Justice Department. This is Terrorism at its worsted by our own Democratic party.”

https://www.thesun.ie/tech/5175138/coronavirus-conspiracy-theories-claims-bug-was-created-by-cia-and-a-hoax-to-stop-brexit-are-false/

 

Apology Not Accepted


A search of Alberta based X-Site Energy Services promotes the company as “innovative and dynamic service provider ” operating in the oil & gas sector. A energy sector dependant company specializing in water management and heating for fracking, transportation of water for drilling and energy production. Sadly for X-Site and countless oil sand dependant persons, abrupt cessation of tar sand oil extraction caught Albertans off guard. I get it, they’re angry. Salad days are over and it sucks.

Here’s the thing – adversity doesn’t give anyone the right to maliciously target others for economic circumstance beyond control. Case in point –  X-Site Energy Services spent today publicly apologizing for distribution of a sticker depicting climate activist Greta Thunberg being sexually assaulted. The decal with black and white drawing of a bare female back, hands tugging on braided pigtails, read “Greta” and proudly displayed X-Site Energy name. Details of X-Site apology linked below are flabbergasting.

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/we-will-do-better-alberta-company-says-it-regrets-greta-thunberg-decal/ar-BB10DP52?ocid=spartanntp

Sorry X-Site, apology not accepted.

 

 

Return Burn


I’m not much of a online shopper, but time restraints in early December led to ordering boots online. They were expensive, ordered directly from the manufacturer and arrived promptly. They might have been out of box for two minutes, tried them on, didn’t like the fit, registered a return online, printed a pre-paid return label, dropped them off at UPS a few days later. An effortless process, out of sight, out of mind, not out of pocket another cent.

A few days later my husband mentioned an article he read explaining what actually happens to online returns. Nowhere in internet retailer fine print does it say “returned goods will be incinerated or dumped in a landfill”. My heart sank, grappling with realization I’d unknowingly contributed to a shadowy behemoth environmental calamity.

Roughly 40% of online purchases are returned. In Canada alone, an estimated $46 billion in goods were returned in 2019. That’s a 95% increase in the last five years, a staggering spike resulting in drastic measures. Bottom line – major retailers can’t be bothered to inspect, re-package or return to inventory the mountain of customer returns. To do so would require scores of additional employees, bottom lines deem it cost effective to incinerate or dump most apparel returns in landfills.

Bracketing is common practice of savvy online shoppers – free returns mean buying a small, medium and large, keeping what fits and returning the other two guarantees a garment that fits. How many know returned garments are dumped in landfills?

Upscale retailer Burberry and retail brand H&M admit to incinerating merchandise in order to maintain brand perception. Perish the thought “wrong people” could diminish their brand if clothing was donated to charity. Not only is the practice disturbing, environmental impacts are staggering.

Had I known my ill fitting boots were destined for the dump, chances are I’d have donated them to charity or consigned them to a second hand store.

 

Entre Ciel Et Terre – Between The Sky And Earth


I can’t think of a better way to welcome the new year than gorgeous timelapse from Adrien Mauduit at Night Lights Films. Timelapse photography is a immensely powerful artform, one capable of reinventing personal definitions of this place called Earth. Few do it better than Adrien Mauduit. Happy New Year from Notes.

In the words of Adrien Mauduit at Night Lights Films –

“There are only a few regions in the world where the skies meet the Earth with almost no distinction between the two. La Palma in the Canary islands is one of them. ‘Entre Ciel et Terre’ literally means ‘Between the sky and Earth’ and was a perfect fit here. While most of the volcanic island is isolated under a thick layer of clouds, the tip of its crater often punches through it and allows you to be one step closer to the Heavens. At an altitude of about 2300 meters above sea level you feel so far removed from any kind of civilization especially because of the cloud inversion. The air is thin and pristine and the living conditions are harsh but that’s the reason why the ORM (Observatory Roque de Los Muchachos) -operated by the IAC (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias) and part of the European Northern Observatory, was built up there. The summit of La Palma’s caldera benefits from dry and clear skies almost year round with almost no light pollution to disturb it, and only rare Calima (this dusty wind coming from the Sahara desert). It’s safe to say that the ‘Isla Bonita’ is one of the top places in the world to observe the northern hemisphere’s night sky!

The purpose of this short was to capture that special place from a different perspective. I really wanted to give the audience sort of a confusion as to where they are because that’s precisely the feeling you get when you look up at the stars from the mountains. You somehow lose sense of any orientation as if you were lost in the immensity of the universe! One image that I had in my head to describe La Palma’s summit was Asgard or Mount Olympus, where all the elements are united and blend together divinely. Even life found a way to survive in this environment bombarded by high-energy rays during the day and battered by cold winds at night. One highlighted species is the fascinating and mind-boggling Tajinaste flower. Also called Tenerife Bugloss or tower of jewels, this docile and resilient endemic plant can endure extreme drought. I included it in the movie because it looks majestic and prehistoric. It really adds something special to the special atmosphere I wanted to convey, especially when the milky way galaxy and the sea of clouds move in the background! By tracking the night sky or displaying the sequences upside-down I was able to give that impression of the Earth floating and rotating in the void of the cosmos. The unusual but innovative close-up views of some parts of the milky way (including the core, Rho Ophiuchi or Cygnus) moving behind the operating telescopes of the OMC helped me give that only human dimension to the movie. The use of an astro-modified camera also enabled me to almost get the full range of colors a DSLR can pick up on single frames from nebulae.

I already traveled to La Palma island in November 2017 but I really wanted to shoot there again for several reasons. First I really wanted to get more shots of the core region that would be less spoiled by light pollution than the ones I recently took on Tenerife. Secondly I desperately wanted to meet the extremely talented photographer Alyn Wallace (check him out: alynwallacephotography.com) and do a collaboration with him on the island. Thirdly I am still on my way of perfecting the novel art of deep-sky time-lapse and I wanted to reshoot some sequences that didn’t give satisfying results in the past. Finally I wanted to personally experience the Spring vibe of the island when all the plants are blooming and give that sweet smell to the air. I am absolutely thrilled to have met all my expectations (and more!), and I really believe the results look stunning!

Everything was recorded with the Canon 6D Baader modified, the Sony a7s, the Sony a7rII and a variety of bright lenses ranging from 14mm to 300mm. I used the Lonely Speck Pure Night and Matt Aust Light pollution filters to reduce light pollution and increase details, and also the Vixen Polarie to track the stars and get cleaner shots. Syrp Genie 3 axis system was used for motion control. All post production was made in Lr with the special timelapse plus plugin, Sequence for mac, TLDF, and final production was made in FCPX. I hope you like the movie as much as I liked shooting and processing it and I thank everyone of you for your support. All content is of course copyrighted AMP&F (except sountrack licensed through Envato Market), and no footage can be used in any way without the author’s permission. Please contact me for media and purchase inquiry. Please share and comment if you liked the video and follow me for more videos like this one! More at adphotography-online.com.”

Tesla Cybertruck


Ponder Cybertruck – electric powered truck unveiled this week by Tesla bobble-head Elon Musk. Take a moment, rattled brains are temporary. Once you realize this isn’t a Mad Max or Starship Trooper movie prop, it’s okay to laugh out loud. No, that isn’t a wheelchair ramp – Tesla thoughtfully created Cyberquad, companion ATV for  environmentally aware off-road electric vehicle enthusiasts. WTF!!!!

Clearly Tesla took a collective acid trip, nothing else explains the absurdity of Cybertruck.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Cybertruck