Friday, October 29, 2010

Venus Passes Through Inferior Cojnunction

Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun tomorrow, October 29th. We usually don't see this phenomena as Venus is up during the day. However, Venus does not pass directly between the Earth and Sun. From our perspective, it passes slightly below the Sun. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has a camera with a coronagragph (a little disk the blocks the Sun) and gives us a nice view. Here is a pic from today.

Venus is the bright guy at the bottom. The streak is due to the fact that Venus is so bright, it bleeds over into neighboring pixels.

Now the main reason I mention this is that next time Venus undergoes inferior conjunction, it will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun. This is called a transit and will happen on June 5th/6th 2010 2012 (and I am telling you now, so no crazy people get to say in 2012 that no one predicted this before!) With proper solar filters or a solar telescope, you can see the disk of Venus on the face of the Sun. For most of North America, the transit will be in progress at Sunset (you can find more info about what you can see from your location here). We will see the first part but not the entire transit. The last time this happened was in 2004 and the transit was in progress at Sunrise. If you put the two together, I will have seen a whole transit!

Mark you calendars, because these are much more rare than you think. They occur in pairs separated by 8 years. After the 2012 transit, you have to wait until 2117 for the next one!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Four for Fridays

Hello everyone! Another wild and crazy week of overtime for me...and I'm not done yet! Hope your week went better than mine. Anyways, here are this weeks' questions on Halloween...

1) What are your plans this weekend? Any Halloween parties planned?

2) What costumes did you wear when you were a kid?

3) Did you ever pull any Halloween pranks? If so, what?

4) What was your favorite Halloween/scary movie?

Enjoy your weekend!

Open Blog - Weekend

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Have you ever seen a baby porcupine?

The Great World Wide Star Count 2010

Okay, it's the fall version of the citizen science efforts to help quantify light pollution around the world, the Great World Wide Star Count. Participation is simple and requires nothing more than your eyes and a little knowledge. All you have to do is go outside after dark and observe an easy to find constellation (Cygnus if you live in the northern hemisphere, Sagitarius if you live in the southern hemisphere) and match what you see in the sky with one of their star charts. Once you have your data, you enter it along with your latitude, longitude, time and date of your observation and that's it. There is a handy link that will help you find your latitude and longitude based on your address or let you click on a map. You can use a GPS unit or your phone's GPS unit as well. Once you enter your data, you can see it on the results page.

If you go outside your house at make a measurement, that is great. However, you can make multiple measurements at different locations. If you go out to dinner or a movie, take a minute to look up. Don't worry if someone else has already taken a measurement at the same spot...multiple measurements are useful!

I have blogged on light pollution and its effects many times in the past. Light pollution is an big old energy waster since light going to space doesn't do much good for those of us on the ground. People who live near the oceans are familiar with the effects of light pollution on sea turtles. Here in Tucson there is a research project underway to study the effects of light pollution on bats and there are numerous studies underway investigating light pollution's effects on human health as well.

Now as I have mentioned before, the solution is not to turn out all the lights but to make sure we have well designed lighting. Well designed lighting puts light only where it is needed and when it is needed and only the minimum amount needed (too much light can increase glare and can create harsh shadows which reduces visibility). Groups such as the International Dark Sky Association have guides on well designed nighttime lighting.

Light pollution is one of those problems that can be solved with a little citizen involvement to foster awareness on the part of government and businesses when they replace their lights. The benefits include reduced energy consumption, a more natural nighttime environment for wildlife, and increased human health and safety. The first step it to gather data and build awareness which is a major goal of the Great Woldwide Star Count.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Your Big Ass Storm

Don't know if any of you say this...the storm that passed yesterday...from space.

Pretty set the record for lowest pressure in the continental interior (excluding hurricanes and noreasters) at 28.20" (or 954.0mB for those into metric). That is well into hurricane pressure, usually a category 2 or 3. Now this was very different from a hurricane as it was not fed by warm ocean waters but was a cold core storm. Winds won't typically build up quite as intense over land as water either.

Still, it was impressive. Jeff Masters has a blog entry on the storm he posted earlier today. Check out his take on it.

Glad you all seemed to come through all right.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.
- Joan Didion

Painting by Vladimir Kush

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my Halloween ghosts and goblins! How are you? How about that wind? Oh my. How frightening to have a tornado touch down right in our county, near a factory and shopping center and schools. And so much property damage done in Racine and Kenosha. And today is supposed to be more of the same. Oh my, oh my. We were enjoying such a long and pleasant run of weather. I thanked Mother Nature loudly and often for her blessings. Perhaps not loud and/or often enough? What is she, deaf? I don’t know. In any case, prepare for the worst, my dears. Batten your hatches and tie down anything that could blow away, including your pets. The meteorologists say that the huffing and puffing should subside tonight. I’ve never really followed that religion, but I’ve noticed that sometimes they are right about the weather. And sometimes not.

I really noticed our magnificent Green Bay Packers on Sunday night as they defeated the Minnesota Vikings. That game went back and forth, back and forth. A real rock-em, sock-em, spectacle. I almost felt a little sorry for Mr. Brett Favre as he hobbled about the field after the game, greeting Packers that he knew. Almost. Right now, though, I think I may feel a little more sorry for his wife. Thank you, our wonderful, beat-up and bruised Packers, for once again giving us a fantastic game and making us proud of you. May you devastate and annihilate the New York Jets this coming Sunday, Halloween. May the powers of the season align themselves with you. Boo!

In the vein of the Halloween season, I found a couple of appropriate videos for my dear Irregulars. The first is an informative short from National Geographic entitled “Halloween History:”

And for laughs, here is “Funny Halloween Pranks:”

Thank you for reading my blog this week my dear, dear friends. Be sure to cheer on our beloved Packers this Sunday and enjoy your Halloween, too. I’m thinking of going to a costume party this weekend as a meteorologist. What do they typically wear?

Please send your tricks or treats, or both, to:

I love you, my readers, both manual and telepathic. Be sure to be very careful in the windy winds of wind today. Driving, walking, almost anything can be hazardous. Even just sitting at home. Oh my. Lexiphanicism!

Open Blog - Wednesday

Have a bright, purple day!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Remember, cell phones go public this month

Call this number from your cell phone so you don't have to worry about telemarketers or political candidate calls running up your minutes.

REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month.
REMINDER.... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls.


To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.
It is the National DO NOT CALL list It will only take a minute of your time.. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON .. It takes about 20 seconds.

Do Not Call

Why Police Officers Train So Hard

The 2011 Chandra Calendar

The Chandra X-Ray Space Telescope has just released its 20011 Calendar. Best part is its free and you can download it in various sizes. In the olden days, you would have to take it to a professional printer, but now photo quality printers give many people the ability to print the wonderful images on these calendars at home (just be sure you have a lot of black ink handy!)

Chandra observes the universe in X-rays instead of visible light. X-rays are much higher energy and the universe looks very different through X-ray eyes. Chandra observes supernova remnants, active galaxies, neutron stars, hot gas clouds and other high energy objects.

January's image of N49 is a good example of a supernova remnant.

This image is a composite of X-ray data from Chandra and a visible light image from Hubble. The expanding supernova remnant is interacting with the surrounding gas giving rise to an intricate array of filaments. The leftover neutron star is a soft gamma repeater, a neutron star that gives off low energy gamma rays (well, low energy for a gamma ray at least...they really are pretty energetic!) The neutron star is the bright "star"toward the top of the image, just slightly left of center. This explosion was not symmetric so the neutron star got blasted to the side.

So download the calendar...there are 11 more wonderful images and stories to go with this one.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Our SER is a real gem

I just received a voicemail from SER, telling me he had gone out to my house to check and make sure it was okay after the tornado went through. What a guy....thanks, SER, you made my day. I had just heard the news or rather saw it and was a mite concerned.

I tried to find a picture of Mr. Potato with a, pretend there is one right here.

Thanks again, SER!!!!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clorox vs. Peroxide: VERY interesting and inexpensive.

This was written by Becky Ransey of Indiana (a doctor’s Wife),

This is what she told me. ‘I would like to tell you of the benefits of that plain little ole bottle of 3% peroxide you can get for under $1.00 at any drug store. What does bleach cost? My husband has been in the medical field for over 36 years, and most doctors don’t tell you about peroxide. Have you ever smelled bleach in a doctor’s office? NO!!!

Why? Because it smells, and it is not healthy! Ask the nurses who work in the doctor's offices, and ask them if they use bleach at home. They are wiser and know better! Did you also know bleach was invented in the late 40's? Its chlorine, folks! And it was used to kill our troops. Peroxide was invented during WWI in the 20’s. It was used to save and help cleanse the needs of our troops and hospitals.

Please think about this:

1. Take one capful (the little white cap that comes with the bottle) and hold in your mouth for 10 minutes daily, then spit it out. (I do it when I bathe.) No more canker sores and your teeth will be whiter without expensive pastes. Use it instead of mouthwash.

2. Let your toothbrushes soak in a cup of peroxide to keep them free of germs.

3. Clean your counters and tabletops with peroxide to kill germs and leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or spray it on the counters.

4. After rinsing off your wooden cutting board, pour peroxide on it to kill salmonella and other bacteria.

5. I had fungus on my feet for years until I sprayed a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water on them (especially the toes) every night and let dry.

6. Soak any infections or cuts in 3% peroxide for five to ten minutes several times a day. My husband has seen gangrene that would not heal with any medicine but was healed by soaking in peroxide.

7. Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water and keep it in every bathroom to disinfect without harming your septic system like bleach or most other disinfectants will.

8. Tilt your head back and spray into nostrils with your 50/50 mixture whenever you have a cold, plugged sinus. It will bubble and help to kill the bacteria. Hold for a few minutes, and then blow your nose into a tissue.

9. If you have a terrible toothache and cannot get to a dentist right away, put a capful of 3% peroxide into your mouth and hold it for ten minutes several times a day. The pain will lessen greatly.

10. And of course, if you like a natural look to your hair, spray the 50/50 solution on your wet hair after a shower and Comb it through. You will not have the peroxide-burnt blonde hair like the hair dye packages but more natural highlights if your hair is a light brown, reddish, or dirty blonde. It also lightens gradually, so it's not a drastic change.

11. Put half a bottle of peroxide in your bath to help get rid of boils, fungus, or other skin infections. 12. You can also add a cup of peroxide instead of bleach to a load of whites in your laundry to whiten them. If there is blood on clothing, pour it directly on the soiled spot. Let it sit for a minute, then rub it and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.

13. I use peroxide to clean my mirrors. There is no smearing, which is why I love it so much for this.

14. Another place its great is in the bathroom, if someone has been careless & has peed on the floor around the toilet & it's begun to smell of urine. Just put some peroxide in a spray bottle & spray. In the blink of any eye all the smell will be gone & the bacteria eliminated! I could go on and on.

It is a little brown bottle no home should be without! With prices of most necessities rising, I ' m glad there's a way to save tons of money in such a simple, healthy manner! This information really woke me up. I hope you gain something from it, too.

Know your States

I think this one may have been posted once before, but it's a good refreshers

Know Your States

Open Blog - Monday

Here we go again.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

KK Learns How To Play Fantasy Football

Couldn't sure to watch the whole thing!

Park 6 Re-opening Blowout

Park 6 was open again last night after a 45 day suspension. All hell broke loose. Read the story and see pictures at (where else?) Racine Uncovered:

Didn't there use to be a newspaper in Racine that covered local stories?

Jethro Tull - "Wind Up"

For the liars, thieves, and perverts who fed me crap for 12 years of Catholic school.
You must be proud of lying John.