Total Solar Eclipse Amazing Treat for North America #solareclipse #astronomy #nature #travel

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC

Have you planned your trip to the center line? A total solar eclipse will occur on Monday, August 21, 2017. The path will cross the mainland United States and I’ll be traveling across three states to reach it. Motels, RV parks, and campgrounds are already full, but I like to be mobile to chase clear skies anyway. Hello BLM land 🙂

This will be my third total eclipse – I had to travel farther for the first two.

As the great day approaches, expect to see more articles on eclipses. There will be the usual warning not to look directly at the event with your unprotected eyes – and you should never stare directly at the sun anyway! You risk eye damage if you do. The eclipse isn’t special this way. It’s just that the glare and pain usually keep people from trying. has a contribution this week. Temperatures will drop in the shadow of the moon as it blocks the sun – a larger drop than you might expect from a passing cloud – about the difference between noon on a clear day and sunset.

During a total eclipse i 2015, researchers recorded the temperature

… at a height of about 5 feet (1.5 meters) above the ground, and found that the lowest daytime temperature occurred 2 minutes after the end of totality…The Earth’s atmosphere is a good insulator, meaning it doesn’t exchange heat easily… This delayed transfer of heat could explain the slight delay in the cooling of the air during totality.

Expect lots more stories over the summer, and view the eclipse in person if you can. It’s a great thing to stand in the shadow of the moon.

Just Saw Mercury #mercurytransit #space

sun porjected - sorry, but the dots of sunspots and Mercury too small to show up in the photo

sun projected – sorry, but the dots of sunspots and Mercury too small to show up in the photo

Mercury is transiting the sun – right now! With our small telescope projecting onto a piece of white paper (never look directly at the sun!) I can see a sunspot group and a dot of shadow. Had to check twice over an hour to see that dot had moved relative to the sunspots – to be sure it’s Mercury. Cool.

Billion Year Old Ghost #star #space #science #amwriting #poem

charting the stars

charting the stars

Fourteen billion years ago,
Photons first became.
Twelve billion years ago they left
The first star ending darkness’ reign.

A star three times older
Than our own life-giving Sun,
Its photons traveled all that time
Till in our scopes their trip was done.

Our Sun will last another
Four or five billion years,
And collapse to carbon ash
Long after we were here.

The first star has had the time
To go supernova.
We see its birth when we look up
Though death has taken over.

Who will watch our Sun expand
And boil away Earth’s seas?
Who will see its giant phase?
Its helium flash recede?

Whoever turns their optics on,
Across the universe,
May still admire our pleasant orb
When Earth’s life has dispersed.

By Kate Rauner

VENTURE 2015 EBOOK CoverIn my science fiction novel Venture, a space station encounters the evolution of a

main sequence star, along with asteroid mining and crew conflicts. Journey with them.

Thanks to which reposted this article from April, 2000 – another message from the past.

The fate of our Sun is explained here: universetoday

Sun Pillar – #Haiku on #weather #sun #storm

Coming winter storm
Sends a pillar to heaven
In the early dawn
sun pillar for blog (300x225)

Galactic Year – a #SolarSystem #poem by Kate Rauner



As our sphere orbits Sun,
So Sun orbits Black Hole
At the center of our galaxy,
As eternity unfolds.

In a quarter billion earthly years
Our solar system circles round,
Weaves thru the mid galactic plane
Where other stars are densely found.

Fifteen times since life began
We have circum-rotated,
And ten times in each orbit grand
The planet’s devastated.

Our Sun’s own cloud of comets
On the solar system’s edge
Are jostled from their sedate paths,
Fall inward from their ledge.

With corresponding timing
Ancient craters have been found.
It seems Earth’s plagued with comet storms
As the cosmic year spins round.

Life sized model

Life sized model

Bombardments are not good for life.
Half a dozen times
Mass extinctions cleared our world
As doomsday peals chimed.

Things have been quiet for some time
Since dinosaurs disappeared.
The Sun careens past cosmic dust,
Dark matter, stars, and fears.

Such grand cosmic motion can only be estimated, and the number of Earth’s mass-extinctions depends on your definition, but our movement through the galaxy makes me feel very small and oblivious. on extinctions and comet strikes
Wikipedia on Galactic year

Colony #OnMars – First Step for Who? Or What?


Hallucigenia_sparsa (200x156)

Wonderful Hallucigenia of the Burgess Shale fossils.

“Eventually we’ll have to get out of this solar system because our Sun is dying. If humans want to survive as a species they’ll have to get out.” Stephen Petranek, award-winning science writer – see his TED talk on the end of the world.

Many people want a colony on Mars as insurance against human extinction on Earth – usually from nuclear war to asteroid impacts.

But from the Sun dying?

In 5 billion years or so the Sun will expand and swallow the inner planets before collapsing into a white dwarf.

But in only 2.8 billion years life on Earth will end when the last of the hardiest microbes die off in the Sun’s brutal solar output. Humanity’s progeny will be gone long before then.

“Two new modeling studies find that the gradually brightening Sun won’t vaporize our planet’s water for at least another 1 to 1.5 billion years. Earth will suffer a “runaway greenhouse” in 600 million to 700 million years when we’d probably be best off living in undersea cities.

Realistically, how long have we got? Let’s choose a nice, round 500 million years. Let’s say all goes well – we adapt to global warming, we refrain from exterminating ourselves, and we grow into an admirable species. That species will not be Homo sapiens.

Five hundred million years is a long time. Looking backwards at history, the Cambrian explosion of life was well underway 500 million years ago when various fascinating wormy creatures lived in Earth’s oceans. It took over 400 million years for primates to originate (85 million years ago) and another 65 millions years for the Hominid family to emerge (20 million years ago). Another 15 million years passed before our own genus, Homo, emerged (3 million years ago – there’s no point in being too specific on timing – just round the numbers off), and you still wouldn’t want to bring Homo habilis home.

What does this mean? Five hundred million years from now, our descendants will be as different from us and we are from Hallucigenia.

How much do you care about these strange future creatures?

I once read a science fiction story where nuclear war destroyed most of the world, and a few people survived on barren Pacific atolls where they evolved into something like walruses. How much effort would you put into preserving that species?

Go to Mars, go to Europa or Titan. Aim for the stars. But don’t worry about the Sun exploding.

“Where are we going? Life, the timeless, mysterious gift, is still evolving. What alien_wizard_fenn_03.svg.medwonders, or terrors, does evolution hold in store for us in the next ten thousand years? In a million? In six million? Perhaps the answer lies in…the Outer Limits,” The Sixth Finger episode.

Space Weather and Solophobia

space_weather_dialsHave you noticed reports from time to time (for example, here) warning of “huge expulsions of magnetic field and plasma” from the sun, perhaps accompanied by dire predictions that satellites will be destroyed, the electrical grid disrupted, or doomsday is upon us? I hope you have also noticed we are still alive. Predictions of the apocalypse are common and many people take them seriously. Some scenarios are crazy, and it’s not just the sun that frightens people – remember the Nibiru or Planet X 2012 Doomsday scare? But “fear of the sun” probably deserves its own “phobia” term – maybe solophobia.

If you are interested in solar activity, you’ll find many scientists share your interest. I found a nice site to monitor the sun’s activity:

Scroll down to the gages showing the sun’s magnetic field, solar wind speed, and dynamic pressure. Without studying these terms, you can watch the gauge move from green to yellow to red. Relax when everything is green, and take comfort from the occasional excursion into the red: we’re still here. Click around the site and learn more about space weather.

I don’t mean to disparage reasonable preparation. From earthquakes to hurricanes, there are disasters that can leave you off the grid and beyond help for days. I live in southwest New Mexico on a ridge surrounded by dry forest. Wildfires are common and any fire around me is likely to run straight up the slopes to my house. I keep my home firewise and have a “bug out” list pinned to my bulletin board – a prioritized list of things to do or toss in the car if I need to evacuate. Everyone should be ready to take care of themselves in an emergency.

When you make your own emergency plans, consider two risks. The danger from whatever event you prepare for, and the opportunities you’ll lose by living in a bunker.