Thursday, September 14, 2017

Goodnight, Cassini

In the gravity well of the great yellow king

There were many moons with mysterious things

And delicate, dynamic, dreamlike rings

And a hexagon jet stream with six perfect lobes

And the Huygens probe
Parachuted down through Titan’s robe

And a moon with tiger-stripes
Makes a ring with its water ice

And shepherds herding gaps

And aurora like a lace cap

Cassini is now* gone
But her science will live on
So –

Goodnight gravity well of the great yellow king

Goodnight moons with mysterious things

Goodnight delicate, dynamic, dreamlike rings

Goodnight hexagon jet stream with six perfect lobes

Goodnight Huygens probe
That parachuted down through Titan’s robe

Goodnight moon with tiger-stripes
That makes a ring with its water ice

Goodnight shepherds herding gaps

Goodnight aurora like a lace cap

Goodnight stars

Earthlings, seen from afar

*Cassini LOS September 15, 2017 11:55:46 UTC 😭

All images are by the Cassini teams at NASA.
See more images from the Cassini-Huygens mission, here and here,
and in the beautiful *free* ebook, here.

Goodnight Moon is a children's book by Margaret Wise Brown. This was obviously based on that book. 

Anthropomorphizing things I already loved a lot makes me sad. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Great American Eclipse on Public Lands

Hi stranger. It's been awhile. I've missed you.

I'm not going to bother with introductions about the solar eclipse about to take over the country (except that all of North and Central America will witness portions of the eclipse).

If you are planning on making the trip to totality in a couple weeks, no doubt you probably have your preferred spot picked out. A lot - a LOT - of travelers are intending on making the trek to some of our public lands. Here's the thing, though. We're all probably thinking of National Parks and Monuments right? So if we're all headed to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the sea of humanity will be unbearable. Meanwhile Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge is teeming with birds along the river with no one to take in the view. (I'm posing hypotheticals here - both might have a lot of visitors on the 21st.)

Federal Lands in the Path of Totality (NASA)

The National Park Service did a really nice job with an interactive map for the eclipse. But what about our National Forests? Bureau of Land Management? National Wildlife Refuges? Each unit has also put together some pretty comprehensive sites with their respective lists within the path of totality. You should check them out, and maybe add some to your backup list. I mean, we all need options B and C (sometimes even D) in case A doesn't pan out.

Woodsy Owl had better put on those solar glasses (photo: USFS)

The Bureau of Land Management will host totality across Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming lands.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, with 19 sites in the path, will start and end the eclipse in the contiguous US with refuges on both coasts, including Middle Mississippi River and Crab Orchard Lake NWRs, which will be in greatest duration (2:40).

The US Forestry Service are clearly the overachievers of the public lands group with 28 separate sites (National Forests, National Grasslands, National Recreation Areas), sprawling from (almost) coast to coast, with many forests hosting activities and official watch locations.

You're going to pay a fee to get access into any of these places, unless you have that handy-dandy America the Beautiful Pass, which will get you in. It costs $80 for the Average Jody (that's right - JODY), so if you don't intend on visiting many public places with entrance fees in the next year, it's not really worth it.

And I haven't even gone into all the state forests, state parks, county parks, city parks, state wildlife management areas that you could also detour to instead of the almost certain-to-be overcrowded NPS areas. Please don't randomly stop on a road. That's not safe.

Only YOU can keep your eyes safe during a solar eclipse (photo: NWCC)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Impressionist Chesapeake

Doesn't the water look like a French Impressionist painted it? Just me? Ah well.

So, I did a thing. @NASAOcean tweeted a picture of the lower Chesapeake this morning.

And all I could think was all of the federal wildlife lands in that Landsat image. So I downloaded it (good googly moogly it's huge - the original is here), colored them in, labeled them, and posted them here for you:
Original Image Courtesy USGS/NASA Landsat 8
Also included are two NASA facilities. I mean, why *wouldn't* you? They're right there!

Also also, I am not a professional map colorer; don't @ me about my crappy job - the borders of the refuges are more a guide for this image.

Also also also, not included are all of the state managed wildlife lands. There's actually a lot in this image. Land conservation and wildlife habitat preservation is a big deal on the Eastern Shore. We don't have a lot of land as it is, so we have to protect every precious parcel we have, which is threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change (links are only for Delaware information which isn't even in this image, because I live there and have them bookmarked for easy access to shut down the deniers).

Full Stop.
Take that to the bank.
Then get some Dippin' Dots.