Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ghostly Apparitions, Celestial Clouds, and the Upside Down Man in the Moon -OR- Night Dreams Under the Tropic of Capricorn

Strange Quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma, also called Kokerboom) in Quiver Tree Forest, southern Namibia are silhouetted on the stunning night sky of the Southern Hemisphere with the Milky Way arching across the heavens.

The glow of the lights of the nearby town of Keetmanshoop are visible near the horizon.

This picture and the two below are from the Dec. 12, 2012 Astronomy Picture of the Day, which in turn is one of three similar images that are from an entry on a blog called Florian's Photographs by Florian Breuer, a mathematician and amateur photographer living in South Africa.

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Here is another portion of the same picture except it shows the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, also called the Clouds of Magellan -- the two best known of the swarm of satellite galaxies to the larger Milky Way Galaxy -- are visible.

Alas, the Magellanic Clouds are not visible in most of the Northern Hemisphere sky.

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And here is the full glorious image of the picture, albeit it a rather small version. A much larger version of the picture is visible here (click on it again for the largest version).

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There are some stunning pictures on that site including this one at left -- full image here -- of the full Moon setting over the Garub plain in the Namib Desert.

Note that the "Man in the Moon" visage on the lunar disk appears (as you would expect) "upside down" as seen from around 25S.


Schematic diagram of the Milky Way Galaxy with the arms labeled.

I've never been sure if "the Milky Way" is really the "center" of the Milky Way Galaxy -- as in the "galactic bar" of the central galactic bulge -- or the barred-spiral arms inward (in particular, the Scutum–Centaurus Arm) or some combination thereof.

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The pictures were taken near the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.5S latitude, here conveniently labeled with signage right in the very same Namib Desert.

Of course, I always find these special latitude signs, especially the Equator ones, problematic for reasons of original poor measurement and continental drift. Yes, the latter matters when you are actually marking a very specific line of latitude.

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So I brought my work computer home tonight in order to post an entry. However, as often happens during the week, I went to the gym and did not get home until very nearly 11PM, and it is now just after 1130PM as I start this entry.

I'm also making dinner, sort of ... It's that prepared beef stew you're supposed to microwave but that I take out of its pouch and put in a pan along with some boiled rice-in-a-bag.

I had a good gym work out -- I was there for three hours again including treadmill, elliptical, some weight-lifting (although tonight was not a night with Tony my personal trainer), and swimming.  Actually, the chlorine from the pool water is bothering my eyes tonight and they are a bit teary and itchy.

While I'm still flabby, or rather, jiggly in a bad way in places, I did not put on any weight  the past week, and I'm still at a tad under 164 pounds (my minimum and down from 185 lbs. in mid-June).

My work day was alright, but I've called up more small towns in Texas than I can recall now.

Anyway, I wanted to post one of my political-themed entries but it is so late already so late, so I'll just end it now.  My next planned update will be my Friday night musical interlude one.

--Regulus

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