Tag Archives: astronomy

Celestial Events to see in 2016

Illustration by ESA, NASA, SOHO

No, not the Golden Globes, National Geographic: Stargazing has a lineup of real stuff worth going outside at night to see.

Total Solar Eclipse — March 8

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower — May 6

NB In dark countryside in the Northern Hemisphere, they say you can expect around 30 meteors per hour, while those in the Southern Hemisphere may experience an hourly rate as as high as 60.

I may have to plan a trip to somewhere where they have something like a dark sky outside to see this since the 7th will be our 34th Anniversary.

Transit of Mercury — May 9

NB In Classical Astrology, planets are generally believed to be burned up or ‘combust’ by close proximity to the Sun because they can’t be seen in the brightness of the Sun glare and therefore lose their power. This zone of combustion extends to 8 degrees around the Sun except in the case of extreme closeness called ‘Cazimi’ or within 17 minutes of the Sun, which the astrologers believed gave the planet more power because of being right ‘in the heart of the Sun,’  as they are when they are still visible during a transit over the Sun as in the picture.

Celestial Line-up — August 23

NB  Mars, Saturn and Antares, the two malefics with the bright star of Scorpio, Yikes

Venus Meets Jupiter — August 27

NB the two benefics together, Ahhh 🙂


Mars and Lagoon — September 28

There is more detail and notes about visibility and where to direct your binoculars at the National Geo site. Enjoy!

Click National Geographic: Stargazing


Florida’s Space Coast

We went to see the Kennedy Space Center last week. I have seen parts of the complex in Apollo 13, The Right Stuff and of course, I Dream of Jeannie, but never in person. The surrounding area is beautiful and includes a national wildlife refuge on this barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean. The weather was sunny, yet cold, so we didn’t have crowds to deal with and were able to check out all the exhibits.

Merritt Island

We both loved seeing the Rocket Garden and the Apollo / Saturn V Center. It was really cool to see the logos/badges that were designed for each mission and to see the crew names and remember watching those broadcasts as a kid. I was disappointed with the Early Space Exploration Museum, not because of what was there, which was good, but because it could have been so much more.  I, of course, would have started from early man’s interest in space with depictions of asterisms from cave paintings, charts of the movement of planets and stars, inventions like the astrolabe, etc., but the curators chose to limit the museum to rocket science starting with Goddard’s experiment.  The rockets are named for the gods, Saturn, Juno, Gemini, and Apollo, and the centerpiece of the lobby floor is a map of the planetary spheres, with their corresponding astrological signs no less, yet there is no mention of the development of astronomy, flight or any of the other technologies that are necessary for space travel. For example, some of the early spacesuit prototypes looked just like old hard hat diving gear and I would have enjoyed reading about how the suits evolved as more was learned about real space conditions.

The tour bus narrator assured us that we would not see any alligators because it was too cold. I figured that since it was cold, they’d be looking for some heat. We spotted two just lazing in sunbeams. I spotted the one above as the bus headed into the shuttle complex and we walked back along the road to take pictures with my cell phone. Having heard that gators can get up to ten feet long, I sized it up and declared him to be little and unlikely to be of any trouble. Somewhat incredulously, Spouse-man explained that the tail is included in the length and that this fine specimen qualified as full size. But as I looked into its eye, I sensed the same comfy vibe I used to get from Angus, our big orange cat, and I knew that as long as we kept our distance, it was quite content to stay put and bask in the sunlight. The next day, I showed the pix to the security-dude, a local Floridian, who was fixing the alarm in the condo and he noticed just how close I got to take the shot. He looked utterly aghast and was probably thinking of the nightly news — “Yet another tourist has been munched by an alligator while taking its picture.”

Happy New Year!

I’ve been out of touch a long time and I have a lot to catch you up on. I am listing events in order of chronology rather than importance, and as always, not using anyone else’s names in case they don’t want to be google-able.

October: I started a Masters Program at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. The degree is Cultural Astronomy and Astrology. Cultural Astronomy is a newish term for the fields of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. In plain English, the exploration of all the ways mankind relates to the sky. The program site says, “We define Cultural Astronomy as the ‘study of the application of beliefs about the stars to all aspects of human culture, from religion and science to the arts and literature. It includes the new discipline of archaeoastronomy – the study of astronomical alignments, orientation and symbolism in architecture, ancient and modern”.

My study buddy from Kepler started with me and I met lots of new people through our meetings online. Then, my dad had a medical procedure and I was able to use it as an excuse to see him for his birthday. He came through the ordeal in fantastic shape and it was great to see the St Louis contingent, especially while the weather was nice. We went to one of my favorite sites, Daniel Boone’s home. The house and land are just beautiful and the tour is always good.

November: By the time I came home from St Louis, Mom was feeling really poorly so I flew down to Orlando. She decided not to undertake more invasive chemotherapy and had been referred to hospice. We had a really good week and thanks to our great petsitter, Scott was able to spend some quality time with her as well. Her condition declined rapidly after that. The hospice nurse came by every few days and mom’s friends stopped by to sit with her, bring me coffee and give me breaks. She passed comfortably the evening before Thanksgiving. Many friends came by that evening and we ended up having an impromptu memorial for her and with her. She had an extensive network of friends and it was great hearing all of their stories. Scott collected some great pictures of her and put them on Facebook. I can’t link to them here so I’ll make a separate page for them later on.

Scott flew down again to help me with her affairs and two of her friends insisted we take some time off. One gave us a pass to Disney and we had a wonderful time at Epcot. Mom always enjoyed Disney. She was a serious a roller coaster fan. In fact, the first time she and I went, we rode every roller coaster in the park and the runaway mine car twice.  Another of her friends knew that she had wanted to see Harry Potter at Universal with us, so he made sure we were able to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was fantastic! We both agreed that the Hogwarts castle ride was the best either of us had ever been on! Mom would have loved it.

December: Scott and I flew home to Seattle and spent some time trying to adjust to life at home and without mom, and of course, work on my paper for the semester. I think Robby thought I was never coming home because he would not leave my side for days. My professor gave me an extension until the day after Christmas. Ironically, he was also my professor at Kepler College in ’07 when Mom was first diagnosed as terminal. There were six topics to choose from and I chose “Is Myth a Primitive Superstition?” Somehow, Word and Endnote, my citation software,  disagreed over who had more control of my document. Word won and actually disabled the link between them. This resulted in Word deleting my current paper and “recovering” a previous version of it. It took Scott a day and a half to get the problem tracked down and software reinstalled and a more correct version of the paper recovered, proving, once again, that in-home IT is essential. I checked in with my Kepler study buddy to find out how her paper was going and found out she had dropped out! ACK! Shock, betrayal, all that stuff… I didn’t even call her back for 2 weeks! Sorry, babe, I’ve recovered now. I am happy with how the paper turned out and although I am not posting it here, if you’d like to read it, just email me!

Well, that is my report for the last quarter of 2010. I am looking forward to 2011 and to the start of next term in February, Research Methods: Ethnography and Fieldwork, and I have found a new study buddy who actually lives nearby. I just hope Research methods doesn’t overlap too much with BA level statistics because I barely survived all that math.