Category Archives: astronomy

New Horizons

Back on January 19, 2006 — what seems like ages ago — the New Horizons probe was launched. Fellow listener SpaceC at happened to be a launch worker at the time, and she posted a beautiful photograph of New Horizons just as it was leaving Earth:
New Horizons
This has been the wallpaper background image on every home and work PC, laptop, and cellphone that I’ve had since that date. Way to go, NASA!


Joe Morgan Just Doesn’t Get Vangelis’ “Albedo 0.39”

Joe Morgan: The guy that wrote “Albedo 0.39” can’t teach me about the Earth. That is what I meant. If you haven’t been on the planet, why should I listen to your song? How can that person teach me about the Earth? I learn plenty about the Earth everyday. Every Sunday night I learn something. The Earth changes almost every day. But I’m still not going to listen to “Albedo 0.39” or songs written by people who haven’t been on the planet or really experienced what goes on in life on the Earth. *

* Okay, that’s been paraphrased; Joe said that about Moneyball, not “Albedo 0.39”, but since it’s Music Friday at WGOM, well, hey! Just reminiscing about the song and all the “stats” in it had me thinking that obviously Joe Morgan wouldn’t care for the song at all.
Vangelis was a favorite of “my group” in college, and “Albedo 0.39” is a nice little spoken word track.

Canada Flashback – Winnipeg Total Solar Eclipse

In honor of the January 15th African annular eclipse, I thought it apropos to flashback to the only total solar eclipse I’ve seen in person, the February 26, 1979 eclipse in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

About a dozen of us, all junior and senior high school boys, and very loosely chaperoned by our Physics teacher, made the three hour drive north and spent the night in a Winnipeg hotel.  In our room, I remember Alan Parsons Project’s Pyramid and (naturally) Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon cassettes playing in the background.  Probably some cards were played, and possibly we actually slept, too.

On the big morning, we set up near the Winnipeg airport, along with a couple other cars of people also parked along the barren road there. 

Dono don’s his snow gear as others monitor the eclipse’s progress

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(Not) Seeing Spots

The sun has been in the midst of the deepest solar minimum in several decades, with long stretches of days with no sunspot activity at all.  Sunspot 1029, one of the largest sunspots in years, emerged this week as the newest member of sunspot cycle 24…and yet, thanks to the St. Louis’ wettest October on record, I had no opportunity to see it in person.  Through the middle of this week, we were already >7″ over the normal precipitation for October, and had set the record even before the current latest storm.

sunspot 1029
sunspot 1029

On the fateful day of September 11, 2001, I had taken the day off from work to speak at K’s science class at Harris Elementary School.  (It seemed like a good excuse to stay home on my birthday.)  As you can see here, that was during the heyday of sunspot cycle 23’s maximum.  I have a pair of solar filters (inserts from one of my Astronomy Magazines, something like this) that I brought along, and the kids were thrilled to be able to see sunspots directly with their own eyes.

Needless to say, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of the bigger sunspots like 1029, and it goes without saying that I’m also anxiously awaiting being able to see the sun, period!


Well, I’ve successfully migrated over from Blogger to here in WordPress. Blogger was nice and simple, but trying to format yesterday’s post without acres of vertical whitespace was impossible, and I was already somewhat familiar with WordPress after creating many posts at WGOM for the SBG Library. I’m not entirely happy with the template yet, so that may evolve for a while.

The sun is in its deepest solar minimum in the last 100 years. I’ve been hoping to break out the solar viewers and monitor sunspots again, but its been many months since that was possible. The next few will probably feature only small sunspots as well, which are too small to view without magnification.

I received a fistfull of Twins cards from Matt at Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius as the back end of a trade I made with him.  There were a couple dozen of pre-2000 commons that I already had, and several post-2000 commons that I probably have (still haven’t checked), but looks like a lot of new ones to sleeve and bind.

Getting back to formatting again, I need to spend some more quality time on the genealogy website again.  I still have a slug of Swedish records for my side of the family, and I haven’t done much of anything on Mo’s side in quite some time.  Meanwhile, the documentation that I have posted needs to be added to my Family Tree Maker database so that I can file away the piles of pages on my desk.