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Having spent the vast majority of my nine lives bridging December 31 and January 1 with far too much alcohol-fueled revelries, I’m now settled in as one of them New Year’s Eve stickinthemudgeons — a quiet cat who doesn’t see much use in greeting the first day of the new year hungover to all hell. Thus, I was up at an otherwise indecent hour this morning to greet the new year and say farewell to the blue moon that graced our skies from the end of 2009 to the beginning of 2010.
Though some rogue cloud cover and an approaching dawn threatened to come between us, finally at 6:13 a.m. the veils parted:
Happy New Year, everyone.
With our country’s huge budget deficits, I’m surprised that few people have suggested that the federal government sell some product or service to raise cash. It could be some no-brainer business that’s guaranteed to make money, such as running an Apple store or a food truck on Abbott Kinney or … a trash hauling company?
Perhaps the feds are doing just that, as the photo at left indicates. Outside my home, not far from Abbott Kinney, sits the latest model dumpster from NASA.
Tomorrow night is the Longest Night of the Year to snuggle up to someone warm.
The Solstice is exact for us here in Los Angeles at exactly 9:47 AM this Morning. It’ll be the shortest day, and the longest night of the year. And that’s pretty much the story for the whole hemisphere.
But in L.A. it’s at exactly 9:47 AM.
See, my Pagan sensibilities come with a certain amount of anal-retentiveness. My Astrological curiosity comes with a little exactitude, ya dig?
I mean, y’ever wonder exactly when sunrise and sunset happen on a particular day? Maybe exactly when a New or Full Moon is? Ever find yourself trying to do the math from Greenwich Mean Time, and wondering whether you needed to subtract an hour or not?
Okay, probably not. But for all you amateur astrologers out there who aren’t ready to invest in their own telescope, or all you fledgling vampires out there who want to avoid bursting into flames or looking conspicuously sparkly, a few links for current Los Angeles data:
Seasons, Equinoxes and Solstices
Sunrise and Sunset
Moonrises and moonsets (That’s Right.)
Interestingly enough, (at least, if you read this far, I assume it is) the Griffith Park Observatory has a list of Moon Phases, as well. They differ slightly, by about a minute, on a few of the times. To be fair, the “Time and Date” website claims an accuracy of “within one minute,” so there yeh go. You can make you’re own decision about who has the final word. Personally, the Griffith folks are local, I been there, I’ma go by what the local kids say, but you do as you like.
So, there it is. All the Loony info you need. Now if I’d just tell you something useful, like when it’s okay to park in a green zone. (Never, that’s my space on Sunday!) But that kind of thing only happens once in a Blue Moon.
Which, incidently, occurs this year on New Year’s Eve. (At exactly 11:13 AM)
I am constantly in a state of delight living in Los Angeles. We have glorious weather, groovy people to hang with, an open minded populace and pretty much the completely fun urban experience.
Still, it’s nice to get off the grid sometimes. In fact, I’ve decided that about once a week, I need a sojourn into the wild to keep my sanity intact. So this past weekend, Dan the man and I packed up some supplies and hit the road to Joshua Tree National Park for a little stargazing.
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect weekend. New Moon situation, so the starlight was blasting in full force. Warm, balmy weather, so even at that high altitude it only got nippy at 4am or so. But, oh! The STARS!!!!! We discovered a whole new universe.. or many of them, exploding up there. Seriously, there were more meteor showers than I could ever count. Either that or we have some crazy UFO’s doing light shows up there.
You couldn’t look up for more than a minute before catching a cascade of swirling light. And the cool part…. on new moon weekends, they have actual star parties in Joshua Tree. Astronomy societies come up there with big ass telescopes, and other ardent star gazers contribute their scopes. So everyone parties and looks at the amazing sky. But even without the telescopes it’s awesome! I highly recommend checking it out. It’s completely free (okay, there’s a $15 admittance fee to the park, but well worth it) and it’s ridiculously beautiful. And romantic. And calming. And the dawn is absolutely stunning too! Just sayin’. We are lucky to live in LA next to such a treasure.
Have a decent sized telescope? Turn it toward the moon Friday morning at about 4:30am, when NASA will crash a pair of orbiters into the south pole, and you may be able to see the resulting plumes of dust.
The NASA exercise is intended to determine is water is contained in the moon’s soil.
Of course, Griffith Park Observatory will be closed at that hour. Because, y’know, its so darn early.
No Public Viewing of Moon Impact from Observatory
NASA’s LCROSS mission, searching for water ice, will culminate with two lunar impacts near the Moon’s south pole at approximately 4:30 a.m. PDT on Friday, October 9. The impacts may be visible with a telescope. However, due to the very early hour, neither Griffith Park nor the Observatory will be open for public viewing.
The attack on the moon will also be televised.
As of right this moment the Mount Wilson Observatory is still standing though flames are very close and people are extremely worried. This webcam shows the Observatory and surrounding areas (though the cam is going down frequently due to overloaded servers) which as you can see are fairly flame covered. As you probably know the MWO is over 100 years old and extremely important in the history of Astronomy including much of the observations and discussion that formulated the Big Bang theory. On Twitter, Xeni Jardin has been posting constant updates on this specific structure and the fires nearby. Keeping my fingers crossed.
I love stars! One of the best nights I’ve ever had was in Joshua Tree last year when my love Dan and I hiked out into the desert, laid down and watched all the stars and planets flying around. It was a real Star Party…
Tonight, we’ve got a treat because from around midnight til 5am, there’s a blast of meteors, some theorize there will be one every minute or so. Of course, we live in a dense, overlit city, so it may be hard to catch a lot of them… and there’s a pretty bright moon tonight.
Nevertheless, I for one, will be laying out under the stars to catch some summer starlight showers. I may even cruise over to Malibu… or out into the wilds of Tujunga to try and get away from the city light. And if you are reading this and know of someplace to get to that’s not to far that might be shielded from our bright LA light… lay it on us!
Tomorrow morning (3 – 4am!) is the closest approach that Comet Lulin will be making to earth. It may be tough to see in our very bright city, but perhaps with a telescope or binoculars you could get lucky. (Oh and if it’s not pouring rain…)
Blast past the jump for the map of the night sky and Lulin’s position in it. Also click here for Nasa’s Green Comet page.
If you lays eyes on it, please come back and comment!
On Monday February 16 and again on Tuesday February 24, if you are very lucky, there are no clouds and you are up before dawn (I’m looking at you Will Campbell), you may be able to see the Green Comet in the southwest sky. A telescope and/or binoculars might be a big help.
Comet Lulin (or Comet C/2007 N3 for you sticklers), discovered in 2007 by 19 year old student Quanzhi Ye in Taiwan, is green and might not be quite visible to the naked eye and there is a chance the bright LA basin will make it even harder to detect, but to see a green comet? Might be worth a go.
Read more about on Nasa’s Green Comet page.
Jump past the comet’s tail to see sky maps for both those pre-dawns.
Yep, I’m one of that certain percentage of us Los Angies who get antsy after more than a day or two of stuff in the air that occludes our ready visual access to other stuff up there — like the sun and blue sky and planets and stars and natural orbiting satellites…
… like the moon, for example.
Thus it was with shock and relief that I looked out my window this pre-dawn and grabbed my cam to debunk the rumors in my head that the moon had gone missing since Thursday and prove that in fact it is still up there in its usual place and shining like it was making up for lost time.
The gang at the Jet Propulsion Lab who tweet for the MarsPhoenix (and other awesome space objects) are arranging a Tweetup at JPL in Pasadena on Wednesday January 21 from 5:00 to 7:30pm. You must register starting at 10am tomorrow morning (January 9) be able to go. To register you need to click on this page. (OMG I am so excited about this that I can barely type this post!)
There will only be room for 150 people so have your link open and ready to sign up! From the main information page:
This Tweetup is an opportunity to meet and speak with the JPL staff, scientists, and engineers behind the tweets of
The evening will include a one-hour “meet and greet” from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by a tour of JPL. On the tour, you’ll visit the Spacecraft Assembly Facility (where @MarsScienceLab is under construction) and the mission control area of NASA’s Deep Space Network. You’ll also see full-scale models of @MarsPhoenix and @MarsRovers and the 11-foot-tall half-scale model of @CassiniSaturn .
What an amazing opportunity for any and all science and space geeks like me. See you there!
Okay, in at least 15 years. Tonight is the night that the moon will appear it’s biggest and fullest to those of us lucky enough to witness it without cloud cover.
According to NASA’s website:
It’s no illusion. Some full Moons are genuinely larger than others and this Friday’s is a whopper. Why? The Moon’s orbit is an ellipse with one side 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other: diagram. In the language of astronomy, the two extremes are called “apogee” (far away) and “perigee” (nearby). On Dec. 12th, the Moon becomes full a scant 4 hours after reaching perigee, making it 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we’ve seen earlier in 2008.
I’ll translate that: Oooh. Pretty. WOW.
Also of note, the Geminids will be at their brightest this weekend, but the overly full moon just may overpower all by the brightest of these.
A great weekend for skywatchers, it seems. I have the perfect perch to watch the moon from my backyard or my front porch. Where are your favorite places in LA to watch the skies?
I spied this UFO hovering over the Marina, and snapped a few photos. I’ll be sending them to the National Enquirer and the History Channel (which loves this stuff during sweeps periods), but first I thought I’d give the exclusive to L.A. Metblogs. My hypothesis is that the aliens on board were looking for human specimens to suck up into their spacecraft, so that they could perform emotionally scarring experiments upon them, and thought that the hardy boat owner types in the Marina below would fit the bill.
Reminded of the rare astrological occurrence by Julia here yesterday I clambered with tripod, camera and long lens up the steep angle to the highest most point of my Silver Lake rooftop — now forever more to be known as Campbell Observatory (Elevation 245′) — and snapped a series of shots, the thumbnail of which at right really doesn’t convey the awesome that is the unique convergence of Venus, Jupiter and the grinning moon. Clicking it for maximum biggitude helps marginally, but still… taking pix of bright faraway things in the night sky while trying not to fall off a steeply pitched roof is not my forté.