Cassini | Fireball Into Saturn

For those who want to watch the end of Cassini in a live broadcast…

How I See It

The astronomy community is active with posts and anticipation of the end of the Cassini Mission to Saturn early in the morning of 15 Sep 2017. This post serves as a brief reminder that you can witness the ending moments live by going online or via the NASA channel on cable. Set your calendar or clock.

Time to show up for the broadcast is 7 am Eastern Time, 6 CT, 5 MT, or 4 PT. I will leave the time calculation to others who live across the oceans.

Online sources include YouTube, NASA-TV, UStream, and Facebook. The table in the link includes links to each of those. You get to choose.

Consult your cable provider to see if they provide the NASA-TV channel.

For a huge number of links to current and past information about the Cassini Mission, please go to the Media Kit provided for reporters by NASA-JPL…

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Vespidae | Everyone Has To Eat

I spotted these on the trail as I returned from a walk this morning. According to Bugguide, they are Eastern Yellow Jackets Vespula maculifrons. They were feeding on something moist and fleshy I could not identify. It has been exceptionally dry here in eastern Iowa since mid-August. Yellow Jackets are found near anything with moisture.

They didn’t mind that I got within a few centimeters to record some video of their activity. Sort of gruesome. But, as Melanie says “Everyone has to eat.”

Three Planets and Regulus

Our view from Iowa this morning toward the pre-dawn sky was clear. High in the dark sky was Venus. Planets Mercury and Mars were supposed to be about halfway down toward the horizon. I have looked for them the past few mornings with no success. Either I was late to look and the sky was too bright, or some clouds were in the way. This morning I looked earlier at 5:55am and the sky was very transparent. Success!

Reg is the star Regulus in the constellation Leo. It photo-bombed the scene next to Mercury.

ISO100 @5sec | Click for bigger

ISO100 @2sec | Zoomed in | Exposure adjusted for detail

The view this morning actually included four planets if you count the Earth beneath my feet.

Backyard | Visitors Welcome

Frequent visits lately of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds and Black Capped Chickadees to the backyard feeders. My records show the last hummingbird sighting is in the final week of September for my eastern Iowa location. Chicadees stay all year long.

The video has been slowed to 70% for the hummingbird and 50% for the chickadee in order to view them more easily. Enjoy.

Metal Detectorist

We recently watched a delightful series on Netflix called Detectorists. Two friends in England belong to a small local club. They dream of finding gold and treasure. Along the way, their lives are connected with funny, amusing, and sweet events. It is well worth your time. Good News! Season 3 is being made.

It inspired me to resume using my metal detector. I usually scan around playground equipment at parks and schools. Kids drop their coins. A few days ago I went to the city park where music events and fireworks are held in the summer. I found nearly $2 in coins. While sweeping around the sand in a play area I found a car. It was a nice Hot Wheels™ car. As I walked to another area, the detector was in front of me skimming the ground when it beeped loudly. This find will come in handy for some gardening work.

Model CK5TBS

Sending Quilts to Texas?

Catbird Quilt Studio

The hurricane disaster in Texas may displace people from more than 100,000 homes for at least several weeks. They need housing, food, water, and some way to replace all the goods lost to water damage, or simply washed or blown away. Should you send replacement items? Should you send quilts?

It’s tempting, isn’t it? A quilt is a tangible item to show your concern, to offer both comfort and warmth. I’ve already seen a number of requests for quilts for Texans. I’ve also seen one of those requests in a Facebook group called a fraud, and deleted after the group moderator couldn’t affirm its legitimacy.

In the past I’ve made quilts to give post-disaster. But unless a disaster is local, I won’t do it again. Why not? Very simply, if a community is facing the scale of tragedy that Houston and other Texas cities are facing, figuring out how…

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Solar Eclipse | Totality

Totality enjoyed the eclipse.

How I See It

Eclipse day finally arrived. Before dawn broke, we awoke to much lightning and thunder here in eastern Iowa. It seemed a bad omen. I checked the radar and forecast for central Missouri where we planned to drive. No rain there in the morning and still pretty good odds for a visible eclipse.

The phone rang about 7:30 when our daughter called. They were to meet us as we drove south so she and our two grandkids could share the experience with us. She said her daughter woke with a fever and aches and pains. It seemed another bad omen. She gave her some meds and still hoped to go. We would meet them in 2 hours and make the final decision. We met and decided to go anyway. She slept most of the 2.5 hr drive from there to Auxvasse, Missouri. Would the two bad omens spoil the day?

The…

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