Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Stellar Celebration of All Stars Triangulum Galactic & Local Neighborly Courtesy Hubble

The Triangulum Galaxy in its Local Group distant glory.

This entry is dedicated to the Triangulum Galaxy, also known as Messier 33 or NGC 598, an "unbarred" or, perhaps, weakly barred, "isolated" galaxy located just under 3 million light years away. The Triangulum is -- under ideal conditions -- visible with the naked eye -- and thus is one of the most distant "permanent" objects so visible.

Ground-based image of the Triangulum Galaxy.

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The Triangulum Galaxy is so named because this naked-eye visible "island universe" is located in the Northern Hemisphere constellation Triangulum ("The Triangle"). The Triangulum Galaxy along with the much larger Andromeda Galaxy and our own dear Milky Way Galaxy are the three main members of what is known as the Local Group.

Local Group schematic

From the schematic, you can see that the Triangulum and Andromeda Galaxies are relatively close to each other -- one online source I found stated they were separated by 750,000 light years, and based upon hydrogen gas streams between them, may have had a closer interaction in the past. What's more, the Triangulum appears to be moving toward the Andromeda for a possible collision and coalescence even as the Andromeda and Milky Way Galaxies are on an eventual collision / coalescence -- or, alternatively, a near-miss and ejection from the Local Group.

To be determined -- but not until long after the human species is extinct or evolved into something else. 

One of the possible collision paths of Andromeda and Milky Way in several billion years and a possible path of the Triangulum.

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Triangulum has an estimated 40 billion stars or roughly one-fifth the estimated 250 billion in the Milky Way (plus or minus 150 billion) while the Andromeda has upwards of 1 trillion (i.e., 1,000 billion) stars.

Triangulum is one of the three big galaxies in the Local Group -- the others being Andromeda (M51 / NGC 224) and our own beloved Milky Way Galaxy -- plus the swarm of satellite "dwarf" galaxies (~ 50) orbiting one of the three, not to mention sundry stellar tidal streams, globular clusters, ghostly nebula, and galactic haloes.

The Triangulum is close enough that the Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys was able to do what it did with the Andromeda in 2015 -- which I featured in this Dec 2018 entry -- namely, create a mosaic of individual stars in a portion of the galaxy that nothing short of bewildering in its glorious detail.

The Triangulum Galaxy showing the zoomed-in area (irregular region) and the inner rectangle featured in the image directly below (zoomable tool region). 

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The mosaic image -- and the zoomable tool used to see to see any portion of it down to the level of individual stars -- are available from the Hubble Space Telescope website:

The main photo release was on Jan 7, 2019: Hubble takes gigantic image of the Triangulum Galaxy.

Additional information is available in this related release: The sharpest view ever of the Triangulum Galaxy.

The actual "zoomable" tool site is here.

This is the rectangular region from the above image in which the zoomable tool can be used.

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Keep in mind that the zoomed area is the galactic core and the inner spiral arms -- and even with that, it's just the "front" portion (i.e., the side facing our galaxy), so that it is but a small fraction of the estimated 40 billion stars that comprise the Triangulum Galaxy.

This is the very center of the Triangulum Galaxy "zoomed in" as much as possible with the zoomable tool.

There are simply too many stars densely packed together to have a useful visible light image. Per Wikipedia, observations indicate that the galactic nucleus has an ultra-luminous X-ray source that varies by 20 percent over a 106-day cycle. If this source is a black hole, it is not a supermassive one since the velocity of stars in the inner galactic core (which does not contain a bulge) place an upper limit on the object at about 3,000 solar masses.

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This image and the ones bellows are from a series of zoomed-in images that I screen captured -- but exactly where in the rectangular region cited above, I have no idea. (The exception is the very last one.)

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The second release states the following:

This gigantic image of the Triangulum Galaxy — also known as Messier 33 — is a composite of about 54 different pointings with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. With a staggering size of 34,372 times 19,345 pixels, it is the second-largest image ever released by Hubble. It is only dwarfed by the image of the Andromeda Galaxy, released in 2015.


Excerpt from the first release:

At only three million light-years from Earth, the Triangulum Galaxy is a notable member of the Local Group — it is the group’s third-largest galaxy, but also the smallest spiral galaxy in the group. It measures only about 60 000 light-years across, compared to the 200 000 light-years of the Andromeda Galaxy; the Milky Way lies between these extremes at about 100 000 light-years in diameter.


The Triangulum Galaxy is not only surpassed in size by the other two spirals, but by the multitude of stars they contain. The Triangulum Galaxy has at least an order of magnitude less stars than the Milky Way and two orders of magnitude less than Andromeda. These numbers are hard to grasp when already in this image 10 to 15 million individual stars are visible.


In contrast to the two larger spirals, the Triangulum Galaxy doesn't have a bright bulge at its centre and it also lacks a bar connecting its spiral arms to the centre. It does, however, contain a huge amount of gas and dust, giving rise to rapid star formation. New stars form at a rate of approximately one solar mass every two years.


Although it has all this gas and dust and rapid star formation, ironically, what captured my attention is the sheer number of older and/or cooler orange stars that it has.

Here is an image showing just so many older and/or cooler orange stars interspersed with younger and/or hotter bluish-white ones, but orange ones predominate.

This could suggest that the majority of any possible planets circling stars in the Triangulum Galaxy have very orange suns -- and all that this would imply for what it would look like from the surface of an Earth-like world...

Artist's conception of one of the seven terrestrial plants in the TRAPPIST-1 system.

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To be clear, our own "yellow dwarf" Sun is basically white -- and only looks slightly off-white at midday due to atmospheric Rayleigh scattering of blue and violet light and orange or red it is on the horizon because of the much greater optical depth of the atmosphere and additional Rayleigh scattering of longer wavelengths.

Yes, the planet Vulcan from the Star Trek universe. Vulcan's sun is 40 Eridani A.

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There are some notable exceptions representing major star-forming regions to include NGC 595 and NGC 604.

NGC 604 within the Triangulum Galaxy.

As the main photo release explains: Some 1500 light-years across, this is one of the largest, brightest concentrations of ionised hydrogen (H II) in our Local Group of galaxies, and it is a major centre of star formation. The gas in NGC 604, around nine-tenths of which is hydrogen, is gradually collapsing under the force of gravity to create new stars. Once these stars have formed, the energetic ultraviolet radiation they emit excites the remaining gas in the cloud.

And with that, I think we'll end this celebration of All Stars Triangulum Galactic.

--Regulus

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Trump and His Breathtaking Ignorance Take an Old Russian Woman On World Stage Tour Plus Another Pig-in-a-Poke Date with Kim Jong-Un; Marianne's Debate Performance Conquers All


I've decided to make this a standalone entry since it is worthwhile as an entry that showcases -- to quote George Conway's tweet reposted below -- the "breathtaking ignorance" of the Syphilis Afflicted and/or Early Stage-Dementia-Addled Orange Dotard that squats in the White House. (That marriage between George and Kellyanne Conway must be something else.)


Trump attended the G20 summit in Osaka where he had one of his signature Vladimir Putin posterior-licking sideshows that in any other U.S. presidency or normal time would be so appalling, the human being occupying the Office of the President of the United States would be impeached, convicted, and removed within a few days time, but this is not a normal time.

As an aside, while Vladimir Putin is objectively and intrinsically a bigger amoral devil and source of evil in the present-day world…

… than Mitch "The Bitch" McConnell and the American Republican Party, that's only because Putin has so much more power at his disposal running his degenerate kleptocracy of Russia compared to McConnell's amount and extent of power in the United States.

Trump, as is his gross wont, made some vulgar and obscene, finger-wagging jokes with Putin next to him about Putin's sprawling thugocracy not interfering -- whether through social media disinformation warfare or actual cyberattacks into state and local voting systems -- in the 2020 election (interference that Trump and GOP, in fact, eagerly want).

Vladimir Putin looks like an old Russian woman.

Of course, as former President Carter just noted, Trump only won because of coordinated and widespread Russian social media misinformation and general information warfare (hacking and releasing DNC emails being just one example).


Add into that the Slave State-era moral degeneracy of the Electoral College and widespread racism in the South and Rust Bucket States, the general stupidity of the American electorate (especially in those locations), plus a distinctly problematic Democratic candidate and -- voila -- you get Donald Trump as President.

But what I wanted to note here was at the news conference in Osaka earlier today when New York Times reporter Peter Baker asked Trump about Putin's comments that "Western-style liberalism is obsolete" and Trump went off an early-stage dementia-riff suggesting this jokester occupying the White House thought this referred to liberal Democratic-run cities on the U.S. West Coast.

What a fucking idiot.


Trump then doubled his ignorance-on-display when Jonathan Karl of ABC News asked him about an exchange between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at round two of the first Democratic presidential debate on Thursday about Biden's position back in the 1970s during the era of court-ordered busing (for purposes of racial integration).

The point is, Trump -- who lived through that entire agonizing and severely polarizing era-- has ZERO clue what the term means as evidenced by his deeply embarrassing answer.

Again, what a fucking idiot.

Of course, that level of ignorance and idiocy titillates his "base" (elements of which are pictured at left) and he'll use it to great effect at his next Hillbilly Nuremburg rally and, quite possibly, a second term.



Oh, and after this segment of Trump's reality sideshow is over, His Syphilitic Gangster Excellency is going to have another pig-in-a-poke meeting with North Korea's lunatic sociopath of a leader, Kim Jong-Un -- with Trump "teasing" that he'll meet him at the DMZ and might even stroll over into North Korea.

Phew.


Oh, yes, about night two off the first Democratic presidential debate -- two nights were needed because of the sheer number of candidates -- self-help author and all-around-New Age guru Marianne Williamson easily won the show just for entertainment value. You can read about her performance here:

Marianne Williamson's Weirdest, Most Wonderful Debate Moments

I would find her more humorous -- and possibly even "serious" in this weird post-factual era -- if she weren't an anti-vaxxer. Still, her closing statement was a thing of beauty:

"Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk. He's not going to be beaten just somebody who has plans. He's going to be beaten by somebody who has an idea what this man has done. This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he has harnessed fear for political purposes.

"So, Mr. President, if you're listening, I want you to hear me, please. You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I'm going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field. And, sir, love will win.”


Perhaps not unexpectedly, her debate performance has gotten her some sardonic support -- thought I too want to see her in future Democratic debates. Also, I couldn't agree with her more -- per her main website -- about our era of cultural malignancy.

OK, I'm going to conclude this entry and post one and possible two additional ones.

--Regulus

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Teddy Amenabar and His WaHoPo.Com: The Hero Extraordinaire and Universal Mind of GOD Unmitigated -OR- Spew You, Too


Teddy Amenabar, did you know, has banned me -- in my current incarnation -- from the WaHoPo discussion group?

Why? Because I frickin' curse (profanity-spew) way too much (admittedly, a problem) and Teddy Amenabar is why God is good.

Indeed, Teddy Amenabar is why the Universe -- nay, the Multiverse -- is a place of Perfection and He (that being Teddy) sits on His Cloud playing God about His perfection.

If you are confused about who is Teddy Amenabar, he's the WaHoPo comment moderator who worships and adores Himself by playing God at those who post WRONG comments.

'Tis True.

Yes, I can't stop fucking cursing -- and in the current era, it is a catastrophic situation given the diseased amorality of Trump and Fred Hiatt's Washington Consensus -- but that's my problem.

All's I know is that Teddy Amenabar is why the Universe is a good, great, and perfect place.

Amen at the Bar, Teddy Amenabar.

--Regulus

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Late Night Entry with No Particular Point of View In This Vexing Reality

Flowers (Asiatic lilies?) in the yard of 2017 13th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 11:22 a.m. June 25, 2019

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This entry is simply to replace the previous one, since I hardly want a big picture of Robert Pinsky's mug to fill up the top spot on my Regulus blog. And that's the case whether anybody reads this damn blog or not.

Dense plant life and shrubs in the Smithsonian's Enid Haupt Garden, Washington, D.C., 7:21 p.m. June 25, 2019

I was walking home from work -- and stopped at a few places including Elephant & Castle for a drink, the POV rooftop bar for two drink, and Old Ebbitt Grill for two drinks before walking home and catching a well-timed S4 bus up 16th Street the remainder of the way to U Street.

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A tropical plant in a large planter amid the permanent plants in Enid Haupt Garden, Washington, D.C., 7:22 p.m. June 25, 2019

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The weather has turned now very tranquil. While it is summery warm-to-hot with highs forecasted to be around 92F, dew points are in the lower 60s Fahrenheit and there is a light northerly breeze. Last night featured a particularly lovely sunset with clean skies, little haze, and a spectacular visual array of cirrostratus clouds under-lit by the setting Sun.

Yours truly in the Smithsonian's Enid Haupt Garden, Washington, D.C., 7:22 p.m. June 25, 2019

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What's more, it has been sufficiently wet in the immediate area this month and spring and, well, really the past year plus, that everything is nice and green.

As an aside …

The Earth really is a beautiful place in and of itself -- except for the fact that the human infestation is of such sheer numbers and various grotesqueries (consider who and what leads this the ostensible American Empire, early 21st Century) that it threatens to destroy it.

As for God, in His/Its Standard Western Form --- in its Abrahamic Judeo-Christian sort -- what a horrid concept.

Sterling (LWX) county warning area (CWA) weather advisories map updated 12:11 p.m. EDT June 26, 2019

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Returning to the weather, of note, there's actually been NO advisories of any sort -- not even a small craft advisory on the Chesapeake Bay -- for the past 24 hours in the Sterling CWA.

Wakefield (AKQ) CWA weather advisories map updated 12:14 p.m. EDT June 26, 2019

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Even for the PHI county warning area -- to include the Jersey shore and offshore areas -- there is nothing (except a hazardous weather statement for impending hot weather) (see image directly below). Looking ahead, nothing of note is forthcoming for the next week or so except maybe an isolated shower / t-storm.

Philadelphia / Mt. Holly CWA weather advisories map updated 12:54 p.m. EDT June 26, 2019

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Tonight was a planned gym night except I ended up staying late at work to finish a report. However, I came right home as I'm kind of depressed and just wanted to be inside watching my MeTV. Of course, my digital antenna reception was pure pixilated shit tonight -- it's definitely worse in the warmer and more humid months.

View looking down Pennsylvania Ave at sunset toward the Capitol, illuminated by the setting Sun, Washington, D.C., 8:03 p.m. June 24, 2019

I walked across the Mall and over to Pennsylvania Ave. There was the usual police presence around the Trump Hotel waiting for the Syphilitic Orange One to show up for his usual nightly steak dinner. Well, that is, when he isn't binge-eating McDonald's burgers, binge-watching Fox, and binge tweeting.

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For tomorrow, I may just telework from home and go to the gym early afternoon. I'm also supposed to meet my coworker friend Julie after work for a drink. For Friday, I was considering an attempt to get my REAL ID-compliant new D.C. drivers license. My current one -- which I renewed just about six years ago after an unfortunate night of July 4th festivities that won't ever be repeated -- expires on November, specifically, Nov 26th, my 50th birthday. (I just narrowly missed getting the compliant one in D.C.)

View of the Treasury building rooftop and White House near sunset from the W Hotel's POV rooftop lounge, Washington, D.C., 8:07 p.m. June 25, 2019

The W Hotel used to be the Hotel Washington. It is now a much ritzier place in its current incarnation and the one-time usually crowded restaurant atop it has been turned into a high-end bar called POV. (Point of view -- get it??)

The view from POV is rather unusual in that you can see not just the nearby National Mall from a very different angle but you can also see right across the top of the Treasury Department -- a Classically ornate building with, it turns out, a weird set of barracks-like structures on its roof not visible from street level -- and literally into the second floor windows of the White House, as well as its rooftop.

Honestly, I am surprised that this rooftop public place managed to survive into the post-9/11 hyper-security period.

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Another view of the Treasury building rooftop and White House near sunset from the W Hotel's POV rooftop lounge, Washington, D.C., 8:26 p.m. June 25, 2019

The cirrostratus clouds in the sky were spectacularly under-lit by the setting Sun. Also, far to the west -- beyond the towers of Rosslyn -- you could see the jets inbound to Dulles Airport 30 miles west of D.C., following a circular pattern that took them south and then on an arc back to the northwest.

The jets out of National were taking the upriver land and takeoff route.

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An unusual perspective of the Washington Monument's entire northern side as seen from the POV atop the W Hotel, Washington, D.C., 8:20 p.m. June 25, 2019

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My understanding is that the DMV makes it very difficult in terms of proof of residence, so I've saved up as many bank, credit card, and internet statements as I could. But then there is the matter that I use reading glasses, not to mention the fact that I never actually drive.

OK, that's all for now. I just want to go to sleep and live in my nighttime dream-world. Sometimes, it's awful and anxious, other times exhilarating, but always in a strangely alternate reality.

--Regulus

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Why I Really Don't Like Robert Pinsky -OR- Busboys and Poets of the Corporate Overclass Fêted But Otherwise Feckless Professorial Sort


This is a bitchy entry involving Robert Pinsky.

In case you don't know who is Robert Pinsky, I turn things over to The Keeper of All Knowledge to introduce you to him (it's as good a short summation as any):

Robert Pinsky (born October 20, 1940) is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator.

From 1997 to 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Pinsky is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his poetry. His published work also includes critically acclaimed translations, including "The Inferno" of Dante Alighieri and "The Separate Notebooks" by Czesław Miłosz. He teaches at Boston University.

In case you were wondering (and you weren't): "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress" is more commonly referred to as the "Poet Laureate of the United States."

Pinsky -- I'm sorry, Poetical Professor Pinsky -- is from my hometown of Long Branch, New Jersey. He also went to the same high school as my dad, even graduating with the same cohort: Long Branch High School Class of 1958. (My dad went to the 50th reunion back in Sept 2008, but he skipped the recent 60th one.

I can't really blame him: At that point, it's all walkers, oxygen tanks, hernia trusses, MedicAlert bracelets, and dinner at 4 p.m. That's just not who he is.)


To clarify, I'm fairly sure Pinsky was also in the Class of '58. He is three months older than my father, so it is possible he was in the Class of '57. Regardless, my dad and him knew each other -- but they were not friends. Pinsky was part of the Jewish contingent that lived in Long Branch. My father was part of the Italian crowd.

There was also a black population, but I don't know if they were even integrated at the time into the school system. (The big Hispanic influx had yet to happen.)

As an aside, New Jersey is like the New England states with a super-local-based school system so that every city, township, borough, and municipality has its own school district. Hence, New Jersey has 21 counties but a startling 678 operating school districts as of school year 2016-2017, some of which are non-operating, which is to say, they don't even have students. (The above link indicates 15 non-operating school districts in school year 2016-2017.)

Here is the whole glorious list.


In many cases, being a "superintendent" in New Jersey is actually not immediately a big professional deal, unlike in county-based school systems (or whatever larger aggregation there is such as the Texas "Independent School District" model). (And I'm not even taking into account charter schools -- those didn't really exist when I was in K-12, and so I tend to ignore them.)

God, Pinsky looks like Robert "Wanna be on Mount Rushmore" Mueller.*

*Except, to quote Bill Maher, when history called, Mueller let the call go into voice mail.

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I can tell you that as a child in Long Branch in the 1970s, it used to be agonizing wait to hear on the radio if my school in Elberon (a section of Long Branch) was closed during one of those snowy winters way back then. (That school has since been replaced by this much larger one -- and with a name I never heard way back when. Then, it was just Elberon Public School.)

But I'm really digressing. Back to the matter at hand …

When Professor Pinsky became U.S. Poet Laureate (in 1997), he was picked up by the PBS NewsHour for occasional poetry reading segments to spout vaporous bromides for its viewers -- a group coterminous with the NPR crowd and both a subset of the Washington Consensus and its Neoliberal World Order.

An Explanation of America: Nothing too pretentious there.

The late 1990s was, of course, the heyday of the Washington Consensus -- and it helped produce the counterreaction of Trumpian degeneracy, but let's not get on THAT topic).


At the time, my father was a regular NewsHour viewer as was I. (Today, he's a Fox News/talk radio-listening Trump voter and proud supporter living in Florida. In frickin' Florida. But, again, I digress.)

So, when my dad told me he knew Pinsky -- and that they knew someone in common about whom my dad wrote his own poem -- I did what I did back then and thought was so great: Find Pinsky's email and email him. Remember this was the "Dawn of the Internet" when all that "techno-glibertarian" bullshit about the virtual paradise it would create was still everywhere. And, of course, I was in or around multiple grad school stints.

Anyway, Poetical Professor Pinsky responded quickly enough. Some with a "friendly greetings to your father."


At this point, I can't recall -- it was 22+ years ago -- whether I just emailed him a request to send him the poem or if I in sent something.

Just FYI, the subject of the poem was either some mentally slow person and/or someone who had a popular connection in 1950s Long Branch. I honestly don't recall -- I just know that they both knew the guy (Cookie??) and my dad had written a poem about him.

What I do remember is that at some point, I received a stupid response from his (of course) female graduate student assistant and "gatekeeper" with some bullshit about how "Professor Pinsky doesn't accept unsolicited manuscripts" -- as if I were some sort of leech trying to feed parasitically off the glorious rays of his poetical genius.

This title sure covers a lot of territory, but it's all in a granola coffeeshop reading.

Pinsky, being that stereotypical super self-important tenured academic sort -- used to nothing but accolades but in the real world, a total coward -- did what now makes total sense to me: Hid behind his assistant -- in this case, a young female. (How many men in positions of influence -- whatever the sphere -- do that constantly??)


Being half Italian, I guess I can half hold a grudge, hence me randomly talking about it about 22 years later (The Polish part helps, too.) That being the case, let me just say here and now:

Whatever glorious talent Robert Pinsky possesses as the Poetical Professor Pinsky Extraordinaire, to me, he's a feckless wussy.

As for the News Hour, it's only redeeming feature was Robert MacNeil. In the case of Jim "We'll Have Full Coverage" Lehrer, he was a power suck-up and an abrasive dick with a fake nice guy persona.

History of My Heart: I'll say.

OK, I'm going to end this entry. I'll try to write a regular entry tomorrow night.

By the way, there is a cluster of heavy rain showers / embedded t-storms crossing the D.C. area at this late hour as I complete this entry.

NWS Sterling (LWX) radar in standard composite mode looped 1:21 a.m. - 1:56 a.m. EDT June 25, 2019

The rain is hissing on the trees outside in the warm, thickly humid night while a growled muffled rumble of thunder. Nice.

--Regulus