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by frazgo

Is Comet Ison worth a road trip before the butt crack of dawn?

11:14 am in Entertainment, environment, Photography, Science, Technology, Which Side? by frazgo

I absolutely think so.  Who’s in with me?

The next three weeks are going to be prime, PRIME viewing of comet Ison.  Its crossed earth orbit and is racing to the sun for its closest approach on Thanksgiving Day.  With proper eye protection it may even be possible to see it as it circles around the sun that day.

Ison is billed as the comet of the century by some.  It may or may not depending on whom you talk to,  survive the trip around the sun on the 28th.

Griffith Park Observatory still says that most spectacular viewing will be Nov 30-December 14 in the pre-dawn hours.  I read earlier today that the best time to view will be about 1/2 hour before dawn. Read the rest of this entry →

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by frazgo

Is it too early to Geek out over Comet Ison?

9:43 am in Entertainment, environment, News, Photography, Science, Technology by frazgo

Griffith Observatory doesn’t think so.  Its still some 6 weeks to peak viewing which is expected around dawn November 30- December 14, but Griffith Observatory already has their viewing guide up.

Thanksgiving Day about 11am Ison will make its closest approach to the sun and may be visible, with the aid of special filters when it is close to the sun.  It should be visible most of the day that day.  Wow.  Am like a kid in a candy store over this one.

Now that prime viewing charts have been established it looks like a sunset view isn’t gonna happen with this comet.  Dawn and pre-dawn look to be the best during that peak viewing period.  I had thought about going up the 15 to Stoddard Wells for viewing if it was going to be sunset. Scratch that and now looking at points east, say Joshua Tree pre-dawn excursion and set up to capture the comet in its glory as the sun slowly illuminates the horizon?    Might as well start planning now before everyone else gets the bright idea to leave the city for best views without the encumberance of light pollution.  Who’s in for leaving LA early enough to be in the desert for that with me?  I’m thinking the weekend of 12/7-8 as it won’t have the mad hordes of Thanksgiving Traffic and be right in the middle of the best viewing period?

 

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by Jeff

Chinese Air Pollution Reaches Los Angeles

9:15 pm in environment, Science by Jeff

This article was originally published at 8Asians.com and has been reposted here with permission.

While smog is yet one of the many problems afflicting Los Angeles, this blog entry points out that some of LA’s famous air pollution comes all the way from China.   According to this report, some days have a third of the air over San Francisco and Los Angeles coming from Asia, and along with it, up to three fourths of black carbon particulate air pollution, among other pollutants.  Just how does Chinese pollution get to the US?  Is it just the fault of the Chinese?

Some of this pollution begins as naturally occurring dust plumes from the Gobi desert, whipped up by storms every spring and summer.  As the dust travels west, it picks ups pollutants as it travels through heavily industrialized parts of China.  Those pollutants include the end products of coal burning, a common source of power in China.

While the US may complain about the pollution, it does contribute to the problem.  Various loopholes and subsidies are driving up the export of coal from the US and Canada to China, which gets burned and exported back through the atmosphere.   The US demand also drives production in some of those Chinese factories.

To me this shows how much the world is shrinking – what happens in one part of the world can unintentionally affect other parts.  Our atmosphere is something we all share.  While Beijing’s “airpocalypse” may seem far away, it really isn’t.  Not only can that pollution reach my family and me here in the Bay Area, but conditions were not much different here some 50 to 60 years ago.

(Photo Credit: Norman Kuring, SeaWiFS Project, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

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Endeavor Over Silver Lake

12:24 pm in News, Science, Transportation by Will Campbell

I’d originally planned to bike up to the Observatory and hike to the top of Mt. Hollywood for a nice vantage point of the shuttle as it did its Los Angeles flyover this morning, but I instead opted just to park a rickety old adirondack chair up on the apex of our steeply pitched Silver Lake roof and camp out there with a camera. And not fall down.

Low and behold, at high noon, that blessed spacebird flew into view atop her trusty 747 transport and accompanied by two fighter jet escorts and literally arced around my gleeful self as if the pilots  saw me and said to hell with the Observatory let’s give THAT GUY over their in the chair on that roof a treat.

Of course I hastily snapped off a few frames as I sat gape-mouthed in awe of her relative proximity, the best of which is below when she’s west from me across Silver Lake gulch and over the Micheltorena Ridge and banking southeast to go to downtown. Just awesome (click to enlargify):

PS. I also set up a timelapse cam beside me to autosnap me up on the roof snapping the shuttle, after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry →

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Hey Is That A Planet On Your Thumb Or Is Venus In Transit?

3:43 pm in News, Science by Will Campbell

My first effort to document the last transiting Venus that any of us’ll ever see, ain’t much to crow about, but here’s what I got at 3:35 p.m. as the sun shined through my 20X spotting scope onto a piece of paper on my Silver Lake front porch as I took the snapshot with one hand and used my other to give some contrast to the blinding rays reflecting on the blinding paper, while trying not to move lest the scope shake like a polaroid picture.

Annular eclipses are soooooooo much easier to shoot.

UPDATE (4:35 p.m.): Here’s one that’s a bit more civilized after the jump, shot at 4:11 p.m. I’ll add any later ones that might be worthy of sharing.

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Temporary Tattoo aka Solar Eclipse @ 6:38PM

6:50 pm in Events, News, Science by Will Campbell

As projected at its maximum through a spotting scope at 20X magnification from the front porch of our Silver Lake house. It buuuuuuuurns! It buuuuuuuuuuuuurns!

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Time Is On Our Side

5:25 pm in Entertainment, History, LA, News, Science, Theatre/Stage by Will Campbell

It's NOT the end of the world as we know it, says Griffith Observatory Planetarium lecturer Kelley Hazen, just the daze of our lives.

I got an invite last week to come to a media preview of Time’s Up, the Griffith Observatory’s new planetarium show, so in between Good Samaritan Hospital’s never-miss Blessing of the Bikes yesterday morning and a long-overdue physical exam that afternoon, I biked up the hill to one of my favorite places in Los Angeles to take advantage of the Observatory’s hospitality and see how and why they decided to counter the anxiety being produced by those doomsdayers dead-set in their belief that the Mayans predicted the world to end this coming December 21 and that it’s so going to happen.

The answers are with a provocative and eye-popping new program in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium that opens on the beach next to the Santa Monica Pier, serene for a few moments until meteors start raining explosively down upon the westside, a huge tsunami closes in and a rogue planet grows larger as it bears down on its collision course with earth — accompanied by flying monkeys, of course.

Inside joke: Pictured during this doomsday scene is Lifeguard Station No. 5150. Since most of the station IDs are no more than two digits, I’m betting this was done in snarktastic reference to the police code that’s basically short for bugged-out basketcase kRaAzEe.

But just when all seems lost, Planetarium Lecturer Kelley Hazen steps in bearing a beautifully illuminated and illuminating hourglass to put a freezeframe to all the apocalyptic nonsense and go on with a visually stunning and intellectually compelling show that counters folly with fact and explores what time is all about.

Read the rest of this entry →

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Moon Shot

9:08 pm in Events, News, Science, Seasonal by Will Campbell

I’m a sucker for a fuller-than-usual moon and couldn’t wait for tonight’s so-called Super Moon to rise high enough to be visible from ground-level in my backyard. So, shortly after it rose tonight, I scrambled up to the tippy-top of my steeply pitched roof in Silver Lake and at 8:54 p.m., put my point-and-shoot camera up to the eyepiece of tripod-mounted 60x spotting scope and shot this frame (click it to biggify):

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Asteroid 2005 YU55: Didja See That Thing?

6:28 pm in News, Photography, Science by Will Campbell

Yeah, me neither. For being the largest close-approach asteroid in the history of history, 2005 YU55 wasn’t that easy to see when it zoomed its 1,300-foot diameter between earth and the moon through very clear evening skies November 8.

But a Flickr contact of mine, Edhiker, did. Ed’s both an awesome hiker, prolific photographer and a whiz with a telescope, and this is how 2005 YU55 looked passing over Los Angeles via 38 separate exposures made into a 40 second movie showing the asteroid’s movement from 7:20 to 7:23 p.m., 11/8/11.

If the embed’s broken, you can view it here.

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by ruth666

The Best Party You May Never Have Heard Of:TwentyWonder!

3:23 pm in Art, Celebrity, Comedy, Education, Events, LA, Science, Social issues by ruth666


Some of you have been around long enough (and are lucky enough) to have attended SUPERBALL – the crazy, eclectic, celeb-studded (but in a good way) event where damn near anything could and did happen.

Like all gigantic, out of control events, SUPERBALL kind of reached its peak and when the dudes behind it got busy with life, it went away for a while.

But nature abhors a vacuum, and out of the ashes of SUPERBALL came … TwentyWonder! A Carnival of the Mind, and a great cause too.

Plus, TwentyWonder just got featured on GoldStar. Discounted tickets are now $20 for a limited time. Jump on it, and then alert your friends!

Tickets: http://www.goldstar.com/today/los-angeles/2011/7/4

This Saturday! July 9th! From 6pm to Midnight!

21 and older with ID

VIP Tix include a souvenir medallion – very cool!

(hope this image cures the JumboTron effect – was posting from the phone)

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by tammara

How Many Rads is LA REALLY Getting?

12:14 am in environment, Science, Technology, Weather by tammara

Radiation Alert! Want to get a heads up on the radiation fall-out hitting LA right this minute? Check this out!  It’s a live streaming radiation monitor set up in West LA so you can see what’s going on at any time of the day or night.

There’s even a chat set up, so you can get answers to all your burning questions.

These guys also get bonus points cuz the device glows in the dark!

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Los Angeles: Final Resting Place of Space Shuttle Endeavour

11:42 am in Science by Jason Burns

In observance of the 30th anniversary of NASA’s shuttle program, the announcement has finally been made. Space Shuttle Endeavour will spend her retirement in Southern California, on display in the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Are we worthy of such a gift?

Endeavour, also known as OV-105, will launch into space on April 29th for its final mission. STS-134 will deliver the  Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier to the International Space Station. This, in addition to STS-135 is considered to be a bonus flight, as the shuttle program was scheduled to be retired from service after STS-133.

Godspeed, Endeavour. We’ll see you soon.

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The Epic Saga Of How It Took 10 Years To Get My Favorite Sunglasses Fixed In An Hour By The Greatest Eyeglass Repair Shop In The History Of History

7:58 pm in Crafts, Fashion, Science, Shopping, Vintage by Will Campbell

Allow you me this story. Apparently I don’t search hard or well enough. When my 12-year-old favorite pair of sunglasses broke at the frame just above the nose piece in 2000 I did what I thought was my best to seek out a place to get them fixed. I failed. Every place from Lenscrafters to the jewelry repair guy my mom swore by said “nope,” in part because they were just a pair of off-the-shelf frames I’d purchased during a mostly senseless spree at Needless Markup back in the summer of Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Eight. The so-called experts would look at the glasses, look at me, and tell me either it wasn’t possible or occasionally they’d say how much they’d need to overcharge me to maybe make it possible.

Facing an amount that was more than the shades cost new, at one point I even bought a soldering gun and sat there with the thing in one hand and the spool of metal in the other trying to convince myself I could somehow immediately acquire the skills required for such pinpoint detail work. Wisely I put down the gun and stepped away from that fiasco-in-waiting before I could entirely fubar them. Instead, I put them away where they lived with a sliver of hope in a series of drawers.

Why? Well the broken glasses became somewhat representative. I won’t bore you any more than I already have with the details of their symbolism other than to say they cracked at a time when a lot of other things broke — most of them intangible stuff like relationships and dreams, but all of them pretty much beyond repair. Suffice it that Y2K may not have fucked up my personal computer but it wreaked havoc on my personal  life, and out of that annus horribillus these beloved glasses became one of the few things I could fix — or so I’d hoped. And hoped. And hoped.

And hoped. Fast-forward to this summer when it had been literally four or five years since I’d given the glasses a thought and Los Angeles magazine’s “Best of LA” issue arrived. Flipping through it I found a write-up extolling the miracle work done by a humble gent who goes by the name Paul Gross in his humble hole-in-the-wall on Wilson Avenue in the Jewel City and I thought my long-dormant prayers had been answered — except when I went hunting for the shades they weren’t a-n-y-w-h-e-r-e to be found and I became dejectedly sure it was because at some point a few years back I’d extinguished that flicker of hope kept burning for so long and pitched them in the trash.

Read the rest of this entry →

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by ruth666

URGENT! Help Defend Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

4:11 pm in Law, Law Enforcement, News, Politics, Science, Social issues by ruth666

Yes, it’s stupidly short notice, but if you’re available and so inclined, how about heading over to the Community Meeting on Medical Marijuana Dispensary Regulations and Enforcement?

It’s TODAY – Tuesday, September 14

6:30 – 7:30pm

Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock

2225 Colorado Blvd.

Los Angeles CA 90041

Sorry, no fancy pictures or links (beyond this kinda crummy one) for you – but your support is critical and I’m just seeing this.

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Heavenly Objects: The Aftermath

9:23 am in Events, Science by Will Campbell

So after posting yesterday about last night’s expected cellestializations, I had this crazy ideato set up my DSLR up on the roof, point it at the northeastern skies and leave the shutter open all night or at least for as long as the camera’s battery held out, in what ended up being a really lame attempt to capture however many meteor tracks might shoot across the frame.

Ansel Adams I am not. I’m more like Edsel Adumbs.

But before that ultimate fail I adjourned myself from the finale of “So You Think You Can Dance” (don’t judge) to climb up on the roof at around 8:30 p.m. and point the cam at the marine layer-free skies to the west and get the following shot of the meeting of Moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars (click to biggify). It ain’t all that grand either, but bear in mind I got the shot balanced precariously atop our steeply pitched roof. In flip flops. Annotations included thanks to SkyVoyager, the absolutely awesome astronomy app for iPhone.

Annotations included thanks to SkyVoyager, the absolutely awesome astronomy app for iPhone.

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