Skyglow


The term skyglow evokes poetic images – sunset petticoats of periwinkle clouds caught in flirtatious embrace with plump pomegranate horizons, gossamer tendrils of moonlight skipping playful stones across still water, calming arias of ethereal pre-dawn planetary conjunctions – all may glow, but none define skyglow.

Skyglow is light pollution. Artificial, unshielded, unnatural light directed upward into the atmosphere. Driving at night we’ve all seen a distant glowing dome over towns and cities, that is skyglow – the reason I strain to hear childhood stars sing.

In 1928 naturalist and writer Henry Beston published The Outermost House. In it he wrote –

Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than with night. Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself. With lights and ever more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea; the little villages, the crossroads. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs? Be the answer what it will, today’s civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night. Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd as to know only artificial day.
― Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928

Entirely light polluted Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Entirely light polluted Shenandoah National Park, Virginia – “In Shenandoah National Park, only the occasional passing clouds block enough light from the surrounding cities to offer visitors a decent view of the heavens. With an estimated light pollution growth at 6 percent a year, National Parks, along with all of the developed world, may lose their dark skies by the end of the 21st Century.” – https://skyglowproject.com/#dark-sky-movement

Light Pollution Visualization.jpg

In 1958 Flagstaff, Arizona became the first city to pass light pollution laws. City ordinances prohibited the use of commercial search lights within city limits, violation of said ordinance was punishable by up to 90 days in jail. In 2001 the International Dark Sky Association named Flagstaff the first international dark sky community in recognition of pioneering efforts to maintain dark skies.A well deserved nod born in 1958, schooled through 1973 when Flagstaff’s county of Coconino passed sweeping lighting code regulations, and educated by 1981 when all illuminated billboards were banned.

Flagstaff is world's only city of 100,000+ residents to feature readily-available dark skies. 

Flagstaff is world’s only city of 100,000+ residents to feature readily-available dark skies.

With the estimated light pollution growth of 6% a year, all of developed world may lose its dark skies by the end of the 21st century.

“Skyglow” is also a project by timelapse photographers Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Hefferman to raise awareness of light pollution. Spend a video moment with Gavin and Harum, it will forever change how you gaze at night skies. –

“The age of dark skies, with us from the very beginning of humanity, has come to an abrupt end.” – https://skyglowproject.com/#music

 

 

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Have You Seen The Milky Way?


Born under starry skies, rural seclusion wrapped childhood in the Milky Way. Constant, permanent, watchful – I left for city lights without saying goodbye. We still see each other every few years, picking up where we left off like old friends do. When time comes to part I wave goodbye, mindful of cosmic wonders that shaped my life. Pondering the fact 80% of people alive today have never seen the Milky Way.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/light-pollution/klinkenborg-text

 

Space Videos


My space geek swooned when idle YouTube navigation delivered the Amazing Space channel – one stop catalogue of cosmic magnificence. Regardless of mood or inclination, be it timelapse, Hubble, SDO, NASA, ESA, live feeds, JUNO orbiting Jupiter, ISS or 30 minutes of high definition solar artistry dubbed Thermonuclear Art – Amazing Space is the place.

http://https://www.youtube.com/user/ouramazingspace/featured

 

Five Bright Planets


Between January 20 – February 20, 2016 Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye – five bright planets in a row, for the first time since December 2004.

Beginning around January 20 - through mid-February - you can see five bright planets at once in the predawn sky.

View larger. | Beginning around January 20 – through mid-February – you can see five bright planets at once in the predawn sky.

Sleep is precious, so too is an opportunity to gaze at over half our planets in the theatre of pre-dawn’s quiet contemplation. Jupiter is first to rise in the early evening, followed by Mars after midnight, then Saturn, Venus and Mercury just before dawn. Those living in North America can click on the link below for precise rise and set time of moon, sun and planets depending on your location.

http://www.almanac.com/astronomy

The rest of you can use the next link. It requires a little patience and navigation to obtain longitude and latitude – but hey, you’ll learn your city’s coordinates along the way.

http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/mrst.php

http://earthsky.org/science-wire/when-will-all-five-visible-planets-appear-simultaneously?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=75402ed4f6-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-75402ed4f6-393970565

Happy Mars Day


April 8, 2014 is “Mars Day”. Tonight Mars will be in “opposition” to the Sun – from an Earthly perspective, Mars appears opposite the Sun as Earth orbits between the two. Since orbits are uneven, all oppositions are not equal -this April Earth hurtles past Mars on its closest orbit since 2007. Tonight Mars practically begs us to look at night sky – it doesn’t matter where you live, Mars shines as brightly as any object in the sky.

Orbiting the Sun on tilted axis may result in seasons and polar caps, but little else in common with Earth. Liberal science fiction conjures images of a “red planet” – red equated with images of sweltering heat rather than an abundance of iron or knowledge of a -60 degree Celsius average temperature.  Home to Olympus Mons – three times taller than Mount Everest, soaring 27 Km. above the surface – the solar systems’ tallest peak.  The greatest valley, Valles Marineris, – 10 km. deep running for 4000 km., as well as raging dust storms lasting months at a time.

Mars is in front of the constellation Virgo.  Spica is Virgo's brightest star.  EarthSky Facebook friend Henrique Feliciano Silva in Lisbon, Portugal photographed Mars and its surrounding stars and created this great star map.  Thank you, Henrique!

Mars is in front of the constellation Virgo. Spica is Virgo’s brightest star. EarthSky Facebook friend Henrique Feliciano Silva in Lisbon, Portugal photographed Mars and its surrounding stars and created this great star map. Thank you, Henrique! View more photos by Henrique Feliciano Silva.

Our skies finally cleared allowing for this “screen shot” of Mars courtesy Google Sky Map on my android phone.

2014-04-08 23.29.45

Anyone who hasn’t put this app on their phone needs to do so immediately.

http://www.google.com/mobile/skymap/

Link to Mars facts….

http://earthsky.org/tonight/mars-at-opposition-out-from-sundown-until-sunup-on-april-8?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=cb62a43ecc-EarthSky_News&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-cb62a43ecc-393970565

Where Did You Come From 2014 AA?


It’s no secret I check space weather every day; solar wind, chance of flares, active sun spots, list of PHA (potentially harmful asteroid) in the next few months. My eyes settled on 2014 AA, Jan.2, 2014, .001 LD  (1 LD = the distance from earth to the moon), 3 meters. Holy crap – this wasn’t here yesterday. Where did you come from 2014 AA? It seems I needn’t have bothered trying to calculate what .001 of 384,000 Kms. was, 2014 AA entered our atmosphere around midnight EST. Believed to have burned up over the Atlantic, somewhere off the east coast of Africa.

This rogue little space rock hadn’t even been discovered until New Years Day, 24 hours later it slams into our atmosphere. Another nugget of information presented itself – this is only the second time astronomers spotted an asteroid before it hit our atmosphere. The first time in 2008 when 2008 TC3 burned up over the Sudan, and coincidentally TC 3 wasn’t discovered until the day before impact.

http://earthsky.org/earth/small-asteroid-entered-our-atmosphere-just-hours-ago

There isn’t a lot any of us can do about falling space junk; I’m not pacing the floor, fretting about a doomsday asteroid. There isn’t much we could do about a sudden, unexpected projectile hurtling towards our planet. That said, I was truly shocked to learn only two asteroids have ever been detected before hitting our atmosphere. Currently spaceweather lists 1488 PHA’s ranging from a few meters to Km’s in width. Gravity and its pull, orbits, and trajectories are fickle, I’d be a much happier ponderer if we put a little more effort into more than 24 hours notice.

Image – skyandtelescope.com