Florida experienced a partial eclipse of the sun on August 21, 2017. It is possible to view an eclipse by looking up with special glasses to protect your eyes. You can also look down to see the image of the sun projected through the leaves of a tree. The overlapping leaves and branches create tiny gaps that project an image of the sun on a sidewalk, much in the same way a pinhole camera creates an image. Normally, these images are round—the unobscured disk of the sun. But during an eclipse, a crescent caused by the moon covering the sun is projected. Continue reading
Cobbosseecontee stream meanders through our neighborhood. If there is a quintessential image of summer in Maine, this might be it. This is not a wilderness. Homes can be found throughout this landscape. Interstate 95, the main highway through Maine, also crosses this stream not far from here. Augusta, the State capital, is about ten minutes away. The only people coming to this spot would be local kids taking a later afternoon swim, anglers putting in boats to go fishing, or a neighborhood couple returning from walking their dog to take in the view. Click on the image for a larger view.
The few off-season residents in Ocean City, Maryland walking to the beach to greet the rising sun. What a strange power this dawn greeting has over humans, regardless of culture. The ritual seems to be partly driven by beauty, and partly by the optimism of a new day. We all know this event. We have experienced the sun rise above the horizon a multitude of times. Yet, each event seems new. Watching our star clearing the edge of our planet shows a world much bigger than ourselves. And, for a moment, we feel at peace. Click on the image for a larger view.
The light and color we see in the world is an extension of our biology. If we shift our perception to the longer wavelengths of near infrared, we would see the world very differently. Chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green color, is highly reflective in the near infrared. Plants practically glow, at least when healthy. We see this very differently. Continue reading
Columbus Day marks a major turning point in history when the culture of the “Old World” met the “New” one. The common narrative is the civilizing force of European culture built a nation from an untamed wilderness. But this invasion was brutal, as most colonization is—Europeans are not the only colonizers in history. Click on the image for a larger view.
This is not some strange specimen under a microscope, but a composite image of two satellite photographs from the NASA Earth Observatory web site showing the high and low water level in Lake Mead in 1984 (high) and 2016 (low). What you are seeing is the difference between those two images—black means there was no change. The bright fringe around the lake is how far the water has receded. It also shows the development of Las Vegas to the west of the lake. The dark center of the city is where it was already developed in 1984. Most of this water loss and development has happened since 2000. Here are the original images: Continue reading
This mineral gets its name from its resemblance to the green skin of a snake. Water, pressure, magnesium, silica, and iron are its recipe and ingredients. Despite its softness, this rock was wrought when a slab of the Earth’s mantle was forced to the planet’s surface with the closing of an ocean between two continental plates. The conditions and material that create serpentine are toxic to plant life. Click on the image for a larger view.
This “toenail” was found in a field in East Anglia in the United Kingdom. It was thought carrying one in your pocket could ease the pain of rheumatism. Since this is about 3 inches or 7.5 cm long, it would be a rather large charm.
However, it really is not a toenail, one from the devil or any other creature. It is an extinct animal related to the oyster, known as Gryphaea. They lived in shallow waters during the Mesozoic period, about 250–65 million years ago. Click on the image for a larger view.
Apollo 16 landed on the highlands of the moon. This is an image of one of the Cinco Craters on the slope of Stone Mountain, which was 2.4 miles or 3.8 km from the lunar lander and about 500 ft or 150 m above the landing site. Some of the oldest rock samples from the moon were taken from this region. The lunar landing crew were John Young and Charles Duke, with Thomas Mattingly remaining in orbit. Click on the image for a larger view. Continue reading
Apollo 15 was the first mission to use a lunar rover. One of the mission destinations was Rima Hadley. This sinuous rille, a river-like channel, is about 80 miles or 120 km in length and rises about 1,200 ft. or 370 m from the landing site. I created this composite of the side of Rima Hadley from images from NASA’s Project Apollo Archive. David Scott and James Erwin were the lunar crew, with Alfred Warden remaining in orbit. Click on the image for a larger view.