Stories tagged 2008

Dec
01
2008

Moon and planets #1
Moon and planets #1Courtesy Mark Ryan
When I was a kid I remember my dad would like to point out that the word "syzygy" was one of very few multi-syllabic words that didn't contain any of the "normal" vowels. Moon and planets #2
Moon and planets #2Courtesy Mark Ryan
The definition in an astronomical sense is when three or more celestial bodies in the same gravitational system line up in essentially a straight line. One example would be the Sun, Moon, and Earth during an eclipse. Another may be the phenomenon that was visible in the western sky just after dusk today. Moon and planets #3
Moon and planets #3Courtesy Makr Ryan
Here are four photographs I shot of the alignment of the Moon with the planets Jupiter and Venus. I don't know if the celestial alignment is technically a syzgy but the word has stuck with me and I'm still waiting to use it in a game of Scrabble.

Moon and planets #4
Moon and planets #4Courtesy Mark Ryan
PLEASE NOTE: From my vantage point the event was happening right in a flight path for the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport so aircraft kept flying through the frame. That's what all the streaks and extra lights in the photos are. The exposures were long, ranging between 6 and 15 seconds, and I used a timer so as not to shake the camera during each exposure. Timing the shutter with the aircraft was tricky but I got a few good ones.

Dec
01
2008

Hurricane Ike: Galveston, Texas - 9/13/2008
Hurricane Ike: Galveston, Texas - 9/13/2008Courtesy Coast Guard News

Hurricane season busy and costly in 2008

The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season has now ended. It was one of the busiest and costliest hurricane seasons ever. 2008 was "the only year on record in which a major hurricane existed in every month from July through November in the north Atlantic." According to the National Climatic Data Center, damages are estimated at $54 billion. That total is second only to 2005 which had Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In all, there have been 16 named storms since the Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1. Eight were hurricanes, five of them major -- meaning Category 3 or higher. Three -- Dolly, Gustav, and Ike -- made landfall in the United States, though none was a major hurricane at the time of landfall.

Source: CNN

Two of the brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, appear very close together tonight. Tomorrow night (Dec 1) they will be joined by the crescent moon around 6 pm (CDT) to make an "unhappy face".

"This is set to be the best planetary gathering of the year, simply because it involves three of the brightest objects in the sky after the sun," said Geza Gyuk, director of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. National Geographic.

Oct
12
2008

Myanmar cyclone
Myanmar cycloneCourtesy Robert Rohde

229,000 deaths

In the first six months of 2008, natural disasters resulted in 229,000 deaths, effecting 130 million people. The natural disasters responsible for these very high figures are Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar last May 3-4, and the earthquake that shook China a few days later.

The severe hurricane season in the Caribbean and the current floods in India, which are reaching historic proportions, are also considered among the most serious disasters of 2008. (Sálvano Briceño, director of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction)

Jun
15
2008

In Iowa, 83 of its 99 counties are now disaster areas

Iowa flood warnings: Sunday, June 15, 3 pm
Iowa flood warnings: Sunday, June 15, 3 pmCourtesy National Weather Service
Iowa was the epicenter of the flooding that swamped Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana this week.

A levee holding back the Des Moines River broke Friday night in Des Moines, sending water rushing into a neighborhood near downtown.

In Cedar Rapids, the state's second-largest city, the waters of the swollen Cedar River crested Friday night, but more than 400 city blocks remain waterlogged and 24,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Click on the link below to read more
flooding in Iowa (Yahoo News)

Feb
17
2008

Stranded Columbus crew starving in Jamaica

Lunar eclipse Feb 20, 2008
Lunar eclipse Feb 20, 2008Courtesy NASA Kennedy Space Center
Christopher Columbus sailed to the "New World" several times after his 1492 voyage. On his fourth and last journey ship worms so decimated his four ships that Columbus had to put ashore on the North coast of Jamaica and wait for rescue. Initially, the Jamaican natives welcomed the castaways, providing them with food and shelter in exchange for trinkets and whistles. When the natives no longer wished to provide food after more than six months, half of Columbus' crew mutinied, robbing and murdering some of the natives. With famine now threatening, Columbus formulated a desperate, albeit ingenious plan.

A bad moon is going to rise

Columbus, like all good sailors, had an almanac containing astronomical tables providing detailed information about the sun, moon and planets. Using its tables, Columbus calculated that on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 29, 1504, a total eclipse of the moon would take place soon after the time of moonrise. Three days before the eclipse Columbus told the chief that

his Christian god was angry with his people for no longer supplying Columbus and his men with food. Therefore, he was about to provide a clear sign of his displeasure: Three nights hence, he would all but obliterate the rising full moon, making it appear "inflamed with wrath," which would signify the evils that would soon be inflicted upon all of them.

According to Columbus's son, Ferdinand, when the moon started to eclipse, the natives ". . . with great howling and lamentation came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions, praying to the Admiral to intercede with his god on their behalf." Just moments before the end of the total phase Columbus reappeared, announcing to the natives that his god had pardoned them and would now allow the moon to gradually return. Columbus and his men were well supplied and well fed until a relief caravel from Hispaniola finally arrived on June 29, 1504.

Total Lunar eclipse Wed. Feb 20 from 9-10 p.m. CST

Click this for information on when the lunar eclipse occurs around the world.The moon will start entering Earth's shadow at 7:43 pm CST Wednesday. Click this next link for an explanation of how and why you see the moon colored blood red, bright orange, or even a gentle turquoise.
Source: Space.com