Google Earth recently added a timelapse feature, equal parts mesmerizing, sobering and incredible. Timelapse in Google Earth combines 24 million satellite photos captured between 1984 and 2020. That’s 37 years of deforestation, urban sprawl, shrinking glaciers, tar sands, agriculture, irrigation, mining and coastal erosion in high definition interactive timelapse. Choose a theme, play, pause on a given year, zoom in, scroll about – kudos Google, job well done. Google Earth introduced Timelapse as “longest video in the world”, 20 petabytes ( one petabyte equals a million gigabytes ), my head spins.
On March 19, 2021 Iceland’s Geldingadular volcano woke from a six thousand year slumber. A relatively minor eruption, more curiosity than threat by Icelandic standards despite being 20 kilometers from Reykjavik. Burping Geldingadular isn’t far from the Blue Lagoon, a man-made geothermal spa fed by water from a nearby power plant. Blue Lagoon (geothermal spa) – Wikipedia On March 31st, Wioleta Gorecka ran with a friend’s suggestion to capture the “big three” – volcanic eruption, aurora and the blue lagoon. Her whim took my breath away –
Ponder Eunice aphroditois, the Bobbitt Worm. Sightless predatory aquatic worm notable for stealth, dizzying speed and impressive size. Growing up to ten feet long, stinging bristles cover a colourful exoskeleton. Their business end is ringed by five antennae, Bobbitt strikes by turning its throat inside out to expose sharp teeth packed with paralyzing toxin. They prefer warm ocean reefs, evidence suggests this invasive species has a far greater range than once thought.
Viscous a predator as Eunice aphroditois may be, surely “Bobbitt” wasn’t the best we could come up with? Bobbitt refers to Lorena Bobbitt. In 1993, domestic abuse, rape and sodomy culminated in Lorena cutting off her husband’s penis while he slept. John’s penis was reattached, Lorena acquitted and released after a 45 day psych evaluation, John ruled not guilty of rape by a jury. Close as I can tell, an online myth circulated inferring female Eunice aphroditois cut off male organs after mating, feeding it to their young. Since when do worms have penises? I digress.
A co-worker introduced Bobbitt Worms. He shared a link, expressed astonishment, I reciprocated. We spoke of evolution remarkable perfection of species, unfathomable diversity and realization we comprehend a fraction of the natural world. Good talk. Then he said, “anything named for Lorena Bobbitt must be nasty, a real badass”. Whoa, that’s not funny. “I’m serious” he replied with a chuckle. I wasn’t laughing.
What’s wrong with “sand striker” or “trap-jaw worm”? Both common names for Eunice aphroditois prior to Bobbitt malarkey. By what stretch of imagination (other than click bait ) does “Bobbitt” make a species more fascinating? “Have you heard of the giant predatory sea worm named for Lorena Bobbitt? So horrendous it attacks without mercy, slices unsuspecting prey in half without conscience. A horrible creature unashamed of paralyzing bristles, venomous bite.?” WTF people!
We live in a world of embellishment, sensationalism, misinformation, monetized content and parroted hearsay. What’s funny about likening a desperate act by an unhinged domestic abuse victim to behavior of a predatory sea worm? I digress, end of rant. Sigh.
Geminid Borealis by Adrien Mauduit at Night Lights Films takes my breath away. Envious is an understatement. Oh to be perched on a peninsula in Norway witnessing the Geminids through tendrils of ethereal auroras.
Forget cute baby kittens, look beyond conventional fluffiness and embrace the Peacock Spider. Look at this guy, he’s delightful. Yes, that’s a spider! A jumping spider native to Australia. Jumpers have excellent vision and stalk rather than trap prey in webs.
Delightful knows no bounds. Watch his courtship dance –
Considerably less fluffy, but equally remarkable are Diving Bell Spiders. In ponds across Europe and Asia, these wily arachnids spend their entire life underwater. They breathe air trapped in bubbles that are held in place by webs. Divers leave their bubble to hunt prey, surfacing only to gather fresh oxygen for their bubble.
Flying spiders? Who knew threads of wind swept silk propelled spiders hundreds of miles? Known as parachuting or ballooning, countless small spiders raise their abdomen and cast silk to the wind. A phenonium which explains sudden appearance of spiders on ships at sea.
Small spider raising its abdomen to balloon away. Image via Sarefo.
Comet Halley is a prolific parent, matriarch responsible for the Eta-Aquarid meteors in May and October’s Orionid meteor shower. Every year between October 2 and November 7, Earth orbit encounters a elongated debris trail cast off by Halley – we know it as the Orionid meteor shower. This year Orionids peak the morning of October 21st.
Composite photo of Orionid meteors over Montana in 2018, via John Ashley.
Orionid abhors flamboyance, preferring to stay the course with 10 -20 exclamations an hour radiating from constellation Orion. Orionid makes up for paltry frequency with dizzying speed ( 66 kilometers per second ) and roughly half the meteors leaving characteristic ionized trails lingering for several seconds in night skies.
The Orionids radiate from a point near the upraised Club of the constellation Orion the Hunter. The bright star near the radiant point is Betelgeuse.
Constellation Orion is the radiant point, but meteors can appear over a wide angle view of dark skies. This year a waxing crescent moon delivers dark skies, ideal for Orionid watching. Best viewed between midnight and dawn.
No matter how long the work day, disheartening the news or lousy the weather, Adrien Mauduit at Night Lights Films never fails to put things right. Treat yourself to real time aurora majesty coupled with Mauduit’s innate instinct to nail the perfect musical accompaniment.