30 hours to go

When I went outside to look at Venus this morning I didn’t expect to be able to see the crescent moon just 30 hours before new moon/eclipse.

Venus and crescent moon

I wish my digital camera had been charged since my cell phone camera does not do justice to the scene.


The Pock Eclipse

Because if you don’t say it, someone will…

Because I Say So

My friend James in Iowa says that while driving on I-29 and I-44 in Missouri, the Missouri SEMA has put up alert signs on the side of the road that say “Solar Eclipse Monday- Be Prepared” and they are handing out flyers at rest stops.

Eclipse Safe Driving Tips

  • Don’t stop along interstates or roads and don’t park on the shoulder.
  • Exit the road and find a safe place to stop and watch or photograph the eclipse.
  • Pay attention. Distracted driving is very dangerous, particularly during this time of increased traffic on the roadways.
  • Never take photographs while driving.
  • See and be seen. Turn your headlights on and do not rely on your vehicle’s auto headlight setting.
  • Watch out for extra pedestrians and cyclists along smaller roads before, during and after the event. People may park randomly and walk along roads, particularly in the hour before the eclipse to get the best viewing.
  • Prepare for congestion especially on the interstates in the path of totality the day before, day of and day after the eclipse.
  • Don’t wear “eclipse glasses” while you’re driving.
  • Avoid travel during the eclipse or in the area of the main path if you can.
  • In the event of a non-injury traffic crash, move your vehicles off of the roadway to a safe location.
  • Check traffic conditions statewide on the Missouri Department of Transportation’s online Traveler Information Map.

For more info go to https://www.mo.gov/eclipse/
or watch the full Safety Video here…


Seven Salems?

Here is something to think about. Coincidence or Synchronicity? You decide.

Salem to you
Source: http://blog.chrisify.com/2017/08/the-seven-salems-of-eclipse-coincidence.html

It may be a coincidence that almost every state has a town called Salem, Springfield, or Middletown.  I tried it myself with all three, and only Salem was the name to have a town on the center line of the eclipse in five(5) states. They said seven(7) but Salem WY and Salem MO are not in the path of totality. If the author of the blog entry had called it Five Salems that would have been just as amazing but Seven Salems sounds better. There is a town called Springfield in 8 of the 14 states where the eclipse shadow will cross, but only two(2) of those are in the path of the moon’s shadow (Springfield TN and Springfield SC)…

Springfield MO which is southwest of St Louis is not in the moon’s shadow, it will see a 98.8% partial eclipse, but coincidentally they are very close to the mean population center of the United States, so it is almost as if this eclipse is intended to be seen by as many people as possible.

Now let’s try it with Harrisburg…

Amazingly, six(6) of the fourteen(14) states have a town called Harrisburg, and three of those are in the path of totality. That’s still not as impressive as five(5) Salems but I am impressed that it worked at all. Harrisburg MO and Harrisburg IL are almost on the center line, in fact, Harrisburg IL which is near Carbondale IL will also be in the path of the next total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 which is my 64th birthday.

Try it yourself- compare my maps to the official interactive eclipse map from NASA.

Lunar Tides?

This could be the single best place to watch the eclipse in the continental USA, and definitely the FIRST.


Another effect of the eclipse that most people have not even considered. At both of the places along the west and east coast respectively where the moon’s shadow crosses the coastline, if either of those two places correspond to local high tide, then there could be coastal flooding, because new moon usually means a “spring tide” and the fact that the moon is perfectly aligned with the sun at that moment will increase/enhance the “spring tide” factor even more than usual.

Here is a related question which will be my research topic for the day.  For there to be a TOTAL eclipse does the moon have to be closer than its MEAN distance to the earth?  Another way to ask this is: at what distance from the earth will an annular eclipse occur as opposed to a total eclipse?  Since annular eclipses occur as often as total eclipses, we know that when the moon is near its apogee point, it is too far away to completely block the disc of the sun.  The moon also has to be near its ascending or descending node for an eclipse to occur at all.

Using this chart for moonrise/set in DC (or anywhere really)…

I can see the daily lunar distance column which tells me roughly the distance of the moon at perigee and apogee, which it reaches every month.  This tells me that the lunar distance will be 227,498 miles tomorrow Aug 18, and will be 251,127 miles on Aug 29.

The distance of the moon on eclipse day Aug 21 is 231,039 miles and that is only three days past perigee, so the moon is by definition “closer than average” on the day of new moon using this information alone.  However, my bigger question was “how far away does the moon have to be so that the eclipse is not total?”  This chart does not answer this question, but it does give me rough estimates for apogee, perigee, and “mean distance” from the earth to the moon.

Stephen King’s Eclipse

Eclipse map Mar 07 1970…

See the section “In Popular Culture”…

The author of this Wikipedia page admits to some controversy over whether the eclipse mentioned in the song “You’re So Vain” was the eclipse in 1970 or 1972 both of which passed over Nova Scotia.  I always thought it was the 1972 eclipse, but as the Wikipedia page explains, Carly Simon began writing the lyrics in 1971, so she was more likely referring to the 1970 eclipse which had already taken place; however it is also possible that she was aware that there would be another eclipse in 1972 that was also getting media hype and that eclipse would only be seen from Nova Scotia, whereas the 1970 eclipse could be seen from the southern USA and Nantucket before passing Nova Scotia, so why would a wealthy guy with a Lear Jet need to fly to Nova Scotia when he could just as well watch the eclipse from the coast of Florida or South Carolina while hanging with his underworld spy friends?  If we really wanted to settle this controversy we could ask Shirley MacLaine’s brother where he was in March 1970 and the answer may be that he was in Hollywood blow-drying Julie Christie’s hair.

More interesting (to me) is whether or not either of these two eclipses were the inspiration for the eclipse scene in “Dolores Claiborne” (both the book and the movie).  Wikipedia claims the eclipse that “inspired” two of Stephen King’s books was the one in July 1963 that crossed Maine (and Nova Scotia!) but the book and movie is set in the 1970s, not the 1960s, and the film was shot in Nova Scotia.  When I saw the eclipse scene in the film (which is epic btw) it really reminded me of the 1970 eclipse which crossed Nantucket Island (and NOVA SCOTIA which was “ground zero” for eclipses in the 1970s). In that eclipse in particular there were a lot of people out on yachts and rented boats docked off Nantucket island, which resembles how the eclipse unfolds in the movie at a fictional island off the coast of Maine.  Perhaps Stephen King was “inspired” partly by an eclipse he saw in Maine at age 15, but wrote it based on descriptions of the 1970 eclipse that appeared in all the newspapers back in the day??

Nacreous Clouds


In the skies above the British Isles, a phenomenon known as “Polar Stratospheric Clouds” have been lighting up the night sky well after sunset, which are very interesting from the point of view of astronomy or meteorology – these sky phenomena are beautiful and fascinating.

However, they also point to a more serious problem. According to today’s Spaceweather.com page…
… these clouds are indicative of the fact that an “ozone hole” has opened up over the British Isles.

Several times in the past year I have pointed out how PSCs and noctilucent clouds might be linked to global warming and in particular to moisture released by the melting polar ice caps.  However, I may be wrong about that after all- it’s not that simple. In fact, the nacreous (they are also called “mother of pearl” clouds because of the rainbow colors) clouds may be linked to pollutants in the upper atmosphere that cause ice crystals to form around the aerosol particles, which turn out to be high in nitric acid, which contributes to the break down of ozone.

We need ozone. The ozone layer protects the earth’s surface from ultraviolet radiation. A similar ozone hole that formed in the southern hemisphere is believed to be responsible for a statistically significant rise in the rates of skin cancer in Australia in the last two decades. Pollutants in the atmosphere are creating a much more imminent and dangerous problem than global WARMING per se, and we need to address this concern NOW.

The China Syndrome

After the astounding results of the Iowa Caucuses, some thoughts. Larry David will host SNL this week and Bernie Sanders is rumored to make a cameo. Good timing with the New Hampshire primary only a few days away.

BUT… I will definitely be able to link this week’s prediction that spring will come EARLY by both Punxsutawny Phil in Pennsylvania and General Beauregard Lee in Georgia to climate change and global warming, which will still give me a chance to challenge Bernie Sander’s claim that climate change is a more serious “national security” threat to our country than ISIS.

Interestingly though, in Iowa at least, national security was LESS important an issue than jobs, the economy, income inequality, social ljustice, and health care. At least on the democratic side. On the Republican side, over 67% of the voters said their main reason for picking the candidate was that person had “the same values as me.” Donald Trump only did well among the demographic group that said that immigration or the economy were their number one issues and main reasons for voting.

The “three way tie” between Cruz, Trump, and Rubio really raises the stakes for next Tuesday in New Hampshire. A strong second place showing by Rubio could set the stage for a long drawn out battle between the establishment candidate (Rubio) and the champions of the “angry white men” Trump and Cruz.

I have a feeling that “New Hampshire Values” are not that much different than “New York Values” and that Cruz will not do as well in NH as in Iowa where over half the people responding to a CNN Entrance poll said that they considered themselves “born again” or “evangelicals.” If Rubio surges to second place in NH by next Tuesday, we will have a real horse race on our hands.

So… back to the old groundhog/woodchuck for a minute. Upon further research this morning, it turns out NOAA has its own Groundhog page which is very interesting. The astounding fact on this page is they say that Phil was WRONG over 70 percent of the time! You remember in my earlier post when I said it is a “win-win” proposition. So how could anyone, especially NOAA, quantitatively state whether the prognostication of a woodchuck were accurate or not??

WELL, as it turns out…. there **IS** some quantitative data which shows that something is AMISS with the climate in the USA.

AND as it turns out…. Phil’s human handlers have incorrectly translated Phil’s wood-chuck-ese because the “official” prediction over the years has said that winter would NOT end early more than the other way around. In fact, the “official” tally from Punxsutawny has been for an early spring ONLY 17 times out of the last 102 years(!).

According to NOAA’s own data for the past 102 years, the U.S. national temperature in the month of March has been ABOVE average in 75 of the past 100 years. So if you use that metric as the “predictor” of a so-called “early spring” then Phil’s data has NOT agreed with it. BUT what ELSE does this TELL you???
In a way, this is saying that SPRING has been coming EARLIER and earlier EVERY year for the past 102 years- but WHY??

It tells you that nationally, in CONUS, average temperatures have been RISING steadily for the past 100 years. Global “warming” itself is not in contest- it is irrefutable. What is refutable is to what extent man’s contribution with air pollution and CO2 emissions has contributed to the acceleration of global warming. And even acknowledging the significance of man’s contribution is the scientific consensus, what has NOT been proven is whether this is a BAD thing.

Hear me out (I am NOT a global warming “denier”)…
ice sheet
Around 26,000 years ago at the height of the Ice Age in North America, the ice sheet reached the 38th parallel, which means Iowa and New Hampshire were both buried under glaciers. The entire country of Canada did not even exist. Then 19,000 years ago, global WARMING began with NO INPUT from humans. At the point 13,000 years ago, this warming accelerated even further (with no human input) and the ice sheet began to retreat more rapidly from its southern extent at 38 degrees lattitude (where I live now) to the north. Was this a BAD THING? The entire geology of Iowa is based on “moraines” and “drift plains.” The southern Iowa “tall grass prairie” is a glacial drift plane caused by the receding of the Wisconsinian Glacier which was part of the Laurentian ice sheet. The rolling hills of central Iowa are caused by “moraines” which were alternating deposits of soil and debris that were left by the melting glacier as it retreated at an uneven rate.

See here is my point. WE would not BE HERE without GLOBAL WARMING. The warming phase that began 19,000 years ago that caused the current “interglacial” is continuing as it has for thousands of years due to normal meteorological processes, and we are LUCKY that we are living near the PEAK of the WARM phase.

SO what is the BIG RISK if global warming continues? Variations in climate and temperature should be EXPECTED. They are NORMAL. Coastlines change and move. Rainfall patterns shift periodically. Rising temperatures WILL produce a more ARID climate in SOME areas, and a more WET climate in others. Why is this BAD? Why is this something to be FEARED?

[Rant ON] Because… if it changes TOO FAST, then the government will not be able to CONTROL it, and the POWER ELITE which currently controls the means of production of ENERGY, will not be able to PROFIT from it. The “billionaire class” (one of the best new phrases of 2015, which will continue to be a big word in 2016) who have their CA$H invested in casinos at the Jersey Shore (Donald who?) and other “risky” investments in unstable areas …. if it all goes to HELL in a HANDBASKET at the SAME TIME, the insurance companies will not be able to process all the claims and the banking system will CRASH again. And who will the people BLAME for this mess? The government. So… it is in the government’s interest, for its own self preservation, to brainwash the people into thinking that it is coming out with these so-called “Green” initiatives for the benefit of the ENVIRONMENT, when in reality it is to consolidate the power in the hands of the oligarchy. [Rant OFF]

Coincidentally, I watched “The China Syndrome” last night on cable, the one from 1979 with Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, Jack Lemmon, Wilford Brimley, and a great supporting cast.

They hit all the right buttons in this movie- very well written screenplay- maybe just as relevant today than when it came out the same year as Three Mile Island. This movie had everything:

  • A fat cat “billionaire class” dude running the electric utility.
  • A corrupt construction company which falsifies the x-rays of the pipe welds in the reactor when they built the plant.
  • The corporate execs at the power company do a rush job on the NRC investigation of the “incident” because the hearings to approve a second reactor are going on and every day they delay will cost a half million dollars.
  • Jack Lemmon’s character is the shift supervisor in the control room; he is the one who discovers the bogus paperwork from the contractor who built the plant, so he tries to take the falsified x-rays to the media, but the construction company sends a goon squad to bump him off.
  • The guy who runs the television station tells Jane Fonda “not to worry her pretty little head” about all the legal stuff and won’t take her seriously as an investigative reporter because she is a woman.
  • Michael Douglas with the beard and long hair is the cameraman who filmed the incident, gets all indignant when the television station execs try to cover up the story so they won’t get sued, so he steals the film from the vault and takes it to the NRC himself.

Great movie! Also it reminded me that Jack Lemmon was such a great actor. In some of the scenes in the control room, he says volumes with just the look on his face.  Wilford Brimley was very good too. This was the first movie where I remember Michael Douglas being taken seriously as a movie star, even after being on “The Streets of San Francisco” on TV. The guy who played the “fat cat” CEO of the electric utility looked like Karl Malden to me at first, but it was a different actor.

And of course you know my personal connection to the incident at TMI, right?
Three Mile Island accident – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In my fuzzy memory, I thought the movie came out AFTER Three Mile Island, but in fact, the movie had been in theaters two weeks when the TMI incident happened in March 1979.  Back then they released blockbuster movies in the month of March- no wonder it didn’t do that great at the box office when it first came out. But that means the screen play, in which the near meltdown was caused in part by a stuck-open valve, in effect PREDICTED what would really happen at TMI. TMI reactor

The Three Mile Island accident was a nuclear meltdown which occurred on March 28, 1979, in reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station. I didn’t go to college in Philadelphia until the fall of 1979, so I hadn’t met my wife Susan yet, but her mother’s family is from a small town in Pennsylvania called Middletown which is a few miles south of Harrisburg next to the Susquehanna river. That means Susan’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins who live in Dauphin county were all in the area affected by the release of radioactive steam, and her grandparents had to come to stay with them in Philadlephia for a few weeks when the area was evacuated.

So you can say this incident was a little TOO CLOSE TO HOME for members of my immediate family, and is yet another example of an incident in my life that was RIPPED FROM TODAYS HEADLINES and I have a close personal connection to people who were directly involved. In this case, nobody died, and thankfuly nobody was even injured. Radiation levels down river were found to be normal, and cancer deaths in the year or two after were found to be at normal rates.