Lakeside Daisy

May 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

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For Mother’s Day, my wife and I have a tradition of going to the Lakeside Daisy Preserve on Ohio’s Marblehead peninsula. Lakeside Daisies are on the federal list of endangered species and, by some accounts, the Marblehead preserve is the only naturally occurring population in the United States.

This photograph above shows the flowers growing up from a lush green carpet of vegetation but the preserve is situated on an old limestone quarry and the soil is poor. The photograph below is perhaps more typical.

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Naturally Occurring Emoticons

May 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Comet Lovejoy Continues

February 24, 2015 § 2 Comments

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We ventured outside last night to take another look at Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2.  It is easy to find in binoculars just to the west of the Lazy W asterism of Cassiopeia in the northwest sky.  You can see it more easily by looking for the fuzzy turquoise spot just to the left of center in the photograph.  I can almost imagine a wisp of dust issuing up and slightly to right from it {but it could be just my imagination :-) }

When there is a visible comet in the sky we are compelled to go out and appreciate its visit as it tracks across the sky…even on a brutally cold night {-5 º F last night, -13 º F this morning}.

Recurring Questions

February 11, 2015 § 2 Comments

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It is February, so again I must ask the still unresolved question: “How can the longest month have the fewest number of days?”

Chasing Shadows

February 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Winter is a hard time for those of us who chase shadows. Starting around the autumnal cross-quarter, in our part of the country the sky becomes overcast with a featureless gray cloud stretching from horizon to horizon that casts our whole world into a shadow. Our northern midlatitude location means that increasingly long portions of our day fall into the shadow of our own earth, which we call night. Our midlatitude sun, being ever lower in the southern sky, casts longer and weaker shadows on the rare days that it makes a true appearance. Shadows are everywhere but so hard to find.

Then around the winter cross-quarter, a glimmer of hope returns to chasers of shadows. Slowly we notice that the daylight hours have increased and that the shade of the overcast has lightened. The sun, which we can now sometimes see as a bright spot in the overcast sky, is a little higher in the midday. There are a few more partly cloudy days. This morning I looked out the window and saw a shadow on the snow! I grabbed my camera, slipped on my boots, and ran outside. It was gone. For the next few hours, I watched for another opportunity. My patience was finally rewarded with the photograph you see!

Spring is on its way…along with its chasable shadows.

Comet Lovejoy Update

December 29, 2014 § 6 Comments

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We had clear skies this evening.  The comet was well placed for easy binocular viewing in the southern sky by 9 o’clock. The only issue was the bright waxing crescent moon.  It had moved a surprising amount since 2:30 this morning.

Comet Lovejoy, C2014 Q2

December 29, 2014 § 2 Comments

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We have been anticipating the arrival of the new year and clear night skies for a couple of weeks for the opportunity  to see our latest visitor from the Oort Cloud, Comet Lovejoy C2014 Q2.  Last night, I checked the weather forecast before I went to bed, noting that it was to be partly cloudy.  I checked the Clear Sky Chart which indicated that we should have good to excellent viewing conditions after midnight.  I set my alarm for 2:00 am.

At the appointed hour we got dressed to go out into the cold night air.  The sky was nicely clear to the southwest.  The constellation Orion was shining brightly there, a little lower than I had hoped for.  I scanned around below Orion in the small constellation of Lepus but it was hidden in the trees.  This should not be a surprise.  Lepus is a rabbit, hiding right under the feet of Orion, the mighty hunter.  I could not see the comet.

I went back in and took a closer look at the finder chart for this comet.  When I returned out into the cold we walked up on the hill to get a better view of the southwest horizon.  With the better viewpoint and a fresh look at the finder chart, the comet was easily found in binoculars but just above the tops of the trees in our south woods.  I ran back into the house to get my camera and got a couple of exposures in before the comet went behind the trees again.  It is the bright greenish blob in the center of the photograph.  I hope that as it rises higher in the sky, I can make a little better photograph of it.

Comet Lovejoy is a lovely little comet holding the promise of future observations  on any clear night through January and perhaps beyond depending on how much it dims.

 

 

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