Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lunar Observing Night of February 13-14, 2011

On the night of February13-14, 2011, I had my first extended lunar observation since October, spending quite a bit of time exploring the lunar surface over five hours. Most of my observations were focused near the terminator, which had swept east of Crater John Herschel and Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows) to the north, and Crater Gassendi at mid southern latitude. Over the hours, I watched the terminator work ever farther east, lighting up mountain peaks long before their bases, and creep over Mare Humorum.


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About 10:30 PM, February 13.


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About 3:00 AM, February 14.


Crater Gassendi is one of my favorite lunar features. Most prominent is the crater Gassendi A right smack in the middle of the north rim. When watching over several hours when the terminator is near, the triple peaks at the center of the crater are fun to watch either emerge or disappear out of sunlight. The south wall has been eroded away by Mare Humorum, as are most other crater rims along it’s border.


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An early observation of Crater Gassendi.


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More peaks are emerging into daylight along the rim of Mare Humorum.


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My final image of the Gassendi/Mare Humorum region.


To the north, Sinus Iridum, at the northeast of Mare Imbrium, was too awash in sunlight for good observation, although to it’s north was the crater John Herschel. Crater J. Herschel, sitting along the northeastern “shores” of the elongated Mare Frigoris, was just barely in full sunlight.


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Sinus Iridum and Crater John Herschel region.


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Conditions were quite windy, but not as cold as it was the previous week, so I didn’t want to waste the clear sky despite less than ideal seeing conditions. It had been far too long since I’d seen this region of the Moon in any kind of detail, and it was good to get reacquainted with my old friend of the night. Spring won’t fully arrive in Northwest Indiana until April, but I think the worst of our winter weather is over. We should be getting some better nights to observe, and more of them, in the next couple of weeks, so it shouldn’t be long before I spend a night with Luna (and the rest of the night sky) again.


Some random lunar images of the night.


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The southeast lunar highlands.


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South of Mare Humorum.


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Crater Tycho.


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Monday, February 7, 2011

Endtimes/Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011


Much of the Midwest was hammered with a blizzard from the mid-afternoon of Tuesday, February 1, until late morning of Wednesday, February 2. In Chicago, it was being billed as the “storm of the century.” The official snowfall at O’Hare International Airport was over 20 inches, ranking as the third worst blizzard in the history of the city. Images and video of north Lake Shore Drive were broadcast on nearly every channel, locally and nationally, and were spread on Facebook and YouTube.






Most of northwest Indiana fared better than Chicago, although a few areas had local snowfalls up to 23 inches. Blowing and drifting snow was also a problem, causing roads and highways to be more dangerous than, and nearly impossible to keep clear. Porter County declared a state of emergency for the second time this winter I an effort to keep citizens at home, and was widely heeded.

When not digging out during the storm, I spent most of my time on Facebook and other websites, interacting with my friends also snowed in. Chicago Astronomer Joe Guzman dubbed the storm the “End Times Blizzard of 2011,” and I and some of our other friends on Facebook ran with it. Here are some of my pictures from the “Endtimes/Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011.”


My first look out the door Wednesday morning.



My car Wednesday morning...

...and again later.
My street. It hadn't been plowed at all, and did not see a snowplow until 2:15 PM Thursday, more than 48 hours after snow first started falling.
There was a snowplow in my neighborhood Wednesday; it just didn't bother to come down my street.



Peeking out the back door.


Path through the back patio.

Once the shoveling was done, I had a few minutes to enjoy the sunset. I must say that Endtimes/Groundhog Day Blizzards produce pretty sunsets.















I swear the plow driver was trying to be a dick. I watched him turn the plow blade to dump all the snow in the driveway as he went by.

The neighbor across the street got it even worse. A truck parked on a nearby street was intentionally plowed in.