November 1, 2014 § 2 Comments

A poem by Thomas Hood (1799 – 1835)…


No sun, no moon!

No morn, no noon,

No dawn, no dusk, no proper time of day.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,

No comfortable feel in any member.

No shade, so shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds!

No vember!


- from the November section of Guy Ottewell’s Astronomical Calendar 2014   (

Monday Evening, 7:37 pm

October 6, 2014 § 7 Comments

There is no photograph tonight. It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words but this evening a thousand words won’t work.

The animals had been fed and the dog was ready for the kennel. As I came out of the barn, I noticed a low background chorus of assorted insects and tree frogs. This was a different sound than the loud, raucous evening sounds of summer; this evening it was more subdued. The temperature was pleasantly cool. The dark, ragged clouds overhead hurried off toward the northeast ahead of an approaching weather system, reminding me briefly of the Coriolis effect of this rotating reference frame that we call home. The wind at the surface was calm for a while and then without warning a stiff breeze appeared causing the now drying leaves in the trees to make their autumn noises. Every so often the natural sounds were interrupted by the sound of a car passing on the road south of here or an airliner on its approach to Akron-Canton.

This evening, at least in my little corner of the world, all seems to be as it should be. On some dark and cold evening in the upcoming winter, this evening will pleasantly come to mind, reminding me that in its own way, that winter evening too, is as it should be.

The Camelopardalid Meteor Shower

May 24, 2014 § 2 Comments


Faint Possible Camelopardalid Meteor above the southern Milky Way


I have been anticipating the Camelopardalid Meteor Shower for a couple of weeks.  Last evening, I set an alarm to wake me at 3:00 am so we could go out and see if they were anywhere close to the hype being advanced by the news media.  It was a beautiful early morning to step outside…the sky was not perfectly clear as it sometimes is but the Milky Way was clearly visible along with a lot of stars. The temperature was perhaps in the mid-40s (deg F).

We were out for about 45 minutes.  Leah saw one very nice meteor…I missed it.  I was never sure I really saw any.  After a while I got my camera out to see what I could find with it.  I took eighteen 30 second exposures.  Four of them had streaks of some sort in them.  The brightest of the streaks began and ended abruptly…most likely a distant jet.  One actually had three streaks, all in the same area of the sky.  I suspect those may have been satellites.  One of the three streaks had two bright dots on it…possibly a tumbling satellite?  The photograph above shows a very dim streak in the upper right side that might be a meteor.

So was it worth getting up at 3:00 am for?  Certainly not for the meteors.  It was a beautiful time to be outside. though,which made it worth going outside for a look.

A Winter Thing in the Midst of a Spring Fling

April 15, 2014 § 2 Comments


Two days ago we thought spring had finally arrived after this year’s long and cold winter.  The temperatures warmed to almost uncomfortable temperatures so we turned off the furnace and opened the windows.  This morning we were reminded that springtime in Ohio has many faces…today it looks a lot like winter.



Spring has finally arrived!


January 29, 2014 § 1 Comment



This was my seventh and final year of providing computer support for the North Central Ohio Dairy Grazing Conference.  Each year I have been intrigued by the way the Amish guys toss their hats on coat racks, tables, shelves…whatever, and apparently find theirs at the end of the day.  There always seems to be one item in the sea of black hats that just doesn’t fit.  One year it was a ball cap, another it was a single white hat.  This year it was this coffee mug.

Snow Rollers

January 27, 2014 § 3 Comments


As we headed up the hill on Killdeer Drive on our walk this morning, Leah noticed that the field was full of snow rollers.  She had read something about them in the last week or so.  Some of them were 12 inches or more perhaps a little more in diameter. According to a NOAA webpage they are rare and form under the following conditions:

  • The ground must be covered by a layer of ice that snow will not stick to.
  • The layer of ice must be covered by wet, loose snow with a temperature near the melting point of ice.
  • The wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers, but not strong enough to blow them too fast.
  • The ground must have a slope, at least where the snow rollers start rolling.

We did have temperatures overnight that briefly rose above freezing and then plummeted  along with winds on the order of 8 to 10 miles per hour so the conditions were probably in line those listed and  just right for them to form.


Ice Mushroom

December 27, 2013 § 5 Comments


I took a walk around the farm Christmas morning and found all kinds of interesting things.  By far the one at the top of the list was this little ice mushroom.  It is a column of ice about 2 cm long with a little mushroom-like cap on top.  The ice at the base envelops a small stone.  I recalled reading about ice spikes several years ago and thought that this must be a similar phenomenon.  One of the references at the bottom of the Wikipedia article led to an article  by Dr. Jim Carter of Illinois State University that showed a similar but incomplete formation. Scroll down in the article to figures 7, 17, and 18.  (Postscript: Dr. Carter has a page on Pebble Ice, his term for this kind of ice formation)

We had unseasonably warm temperatures on the previous weekend and about two inches of rain. The soil was unfrozen and saturated.  By Christmas (Wednesday) morning the temperature had fallen to 11° F.  Ice needles were common in the silty soil.  I found the “mushroom” in a small depression near the intermittent stream that runs through our woods.

Here is another photograph of it after I removed it from its original setting for a closer look.   You can see remnants of some ice needles at the upper right and in the soil at the base of the mushroom.


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