Life would be mind-numbingly dreary without escapes into timelapse night –
Life would be mind-numbingly dreary without escapes into timelapse night –
When I wake in the morning Cassini will be gone. Her fiery demise, fitting epitaph for an exquisitely orchestrated journey to benefit mankind. The cosmos doesn’t belong to soldiers or politicians, it waits for stoic civil servants dubbed Cassini to give our universe dimension.
A link detailing Cassini’s Grand Finale –
This video is how I say goodnight Cassini, a lullaby of images in honor of a cosmic journey that stole my heart. Goodnight Cassini, sleep well.
On August 21, 2017 a 70 mile path of solar eclipse totality crosses 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. Few of us will be within the filament of total darkness, but hundreds of millions from any location in North America, parts of South America, Europe and Africa can witness a partial solar eclipse. Enter your location in search field on the link below – I will be in Penticton B.C. on August 21. Courtesy the Time and Date link, I can expect a partial eclipse of 87% totality peaking at 10:25 am local time.
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 – “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
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.
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
Launched January 19, 2006 NASA’s New Horizons probe buckled down, unfazed by billions of miles between Earth and mission objectives – exploration of Pluto, Pluto’s moons and the Kuiper Belt. A few days ago, July 14, 2017 marked the second anniversary of New Horizons first fly-by of once a planet Pluto.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, capturing this near-sunset view of the dwarf planet’s icy mountains and flat ice plains. The image was taken from a distance of 11,000 miles (18,000 kilometers) from Pluto; the scene is 780 miles (1,250 km) wide. – https://www.space.com/16533-pluto-new-horizons-spacecraft-pictures.html
Ponder New Horizons at – https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/new-horizons-nearing-pluto/
To honour New Horizon’s second “closest fly-by” of Pluto anniversary, NASA released two short commemorative videos –
The magnitude of New Horizons defies comprehension, it’s tough to fathom 7.5 billion kilometers culminating in near perfect dalliance with outer edges of our solar system. Rather than dismiss New Horizons for lack of tangible perspectives, ponder distance and time traveled with new eyes. Invite New Horizons images for tea, sip politely, let cosmic wonder tickle your toes. Laugh out loud when I tell you New Horizons has enough spring in her step to cross 1.6 billion kilometers beyond Pluto for a hand shake with asteroid 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019. Beyond that, New Horizons will wait as only good soldiers can. Ready to rise from trenches when fresh orders dictate another charge into the great unknown.
This week astronomers at University of Cambridge announced discovery of EBLM JO555-57Ab, the smallest star ever identified by science. To ponder EBLM JO555-57Ab, cast an eye of imagination 600 light years across the cosmos. Recline in upholstered comfort, search for unmistakable washes of sunlight emanating from a cosmic body smaller than Jupiter, barely larger than Saturn. Marvel at the fickle nature of our universe while dismissing notions of mandatory solar enormity. Despite a meager footprint, know that a star, is a star, is a star.
Demure as EBLM JO555-57Ab appears, mass not size determines star status. More mass = more gravity, exceptional gravity smashes particles together creating nuclear fusion which releases energy as light, radiation and solar wind. See How Stars Work at – http://science.howstuffworks.com/star5.htm
Alexander Boetticher, lead study author doubts stars get much smaller than EBLM JO555-57Ab.
“Our discovery reveals how small stars can be. Had this star formed with only a slightly lower mass, the fusion reaction of hydrogen in its core could not be sustained, and the star would instead have transformed into a brown dwarf.”
EBLM JO555-57Ab resides in a double star system, but for this critical detail, astronomers might never have noticed EBLM JO555-57Ab passing in front of her larger companion star. Curiously, dim, coolish, barely a star like our now know smallest star, are the “best candidates” for finding Earth sized exoplanets with surface water. Boetticher adds –
[EBLM J0555-57Ab] is smaller, and likely colder, than many of the gas giant exoplanets that have so far been identified. While a fascinating feature of stellar physics, it is often harder to measure the size of such dim low-mass stars than for many of the larger planets. Thankfully, we can find these small stars with planet-hunting equipment, when they orbit a larger host star in a binary system.
It might sound incredible, but finding a star can at times be harder than finding a planet.
Artist’s concept of newly-measured smallest star, called EBLM J0555-57Ab, in contrast to planets Jupiter and Saturn and to the small, cool star Trappist-1, known to be home to at least 7 planets. Image via University of Cambridge.