Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Cold Moonlit November Night; Remembering When Mars Was Wet; & Dinner for One, Maybe Two -OR- Reflections from a Pale Blue Dot

The row houses along the 2000 block of 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C., on a bright, cold autumn morning, 10:18AM Nov. 13, 2013.

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This is just a very quick update. It's late and I'm at work, but I'm not taking the computer home tonight. (I really do need to get my own PC at some point.) Tonight I am not going to the gym but rather meeting Chris H. for dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill. At least I think I am. We'll see if he actually shows up. The idea is to meet at the Old Bar for dinner.

It's a cold and blustery November night -- and through the slats of the blinds on the cubical window* I can see the waxing gibbous Moon riding high in the sky. The air temp is already down to 40F at KDCA but the dew point is 17F so it at least get NEAR freezing at KDCA tonight. KIAD and KBWI will drop into the 20F to 25F range.

*Yes, I have a window -- a big one, in fact, except it just looks onto the other side of the building. If I were on that other side, I would have a fantastic view of nearly the entire Washington Monument. As it is, I can see the reflection of nearly the entire Washington Monument in a window on the other wing of the building.


Of note, I watched the yellow-orange hued Moon set last night around 230AM from my apt. window, vanishing behind a building about 3/4 mile away on Connecticut Avenue before disappearing behind the limb of the unseen horizon of the world.

 It sort of looked like this, only more orange-ish and it was "reverse" in that the "Man in the Moon" was pointed "down" toward the western horizon.

I could see small black objects on the rooftop, and kept imagining it was a person dancing up there, but it was probably just one of those ubiquitous trellised plants people put atop buildings.

Speaking of things celestial, there was this piece today showing (here on Weather a NASA Goddard visualization of what Mars may have looked like 4 billion (!) years ago when it (probably) had a much thicker atmosphere. It was a warm world with clouds and surface water / rainfall. Earth at that time was either still too molten hot or was a sort of superheated steam bath with a super-dense toxic atmosphere, its liquid oceans only beginning to form, to rain out in cataracts lasting millions of years.


Here is the embedded YouTube clip as posted by NASA Goddard. The music is kinda wonderful, too.

The probe MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) due for launch soon from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas V rocket is supposed to study the planet's freeze-dried climate with ultra-rarified climate. In loosing its magnetic field, Mars may have also lost its atmosphere.

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One last item ...

Earth and the Moon seen as a single dot from about 900 million miles away with the enormous hulking presence of Saturn and its incredible ring system seen in silhouetted fashion with the Sun in front of it, the bulk of the planet blocking its direct light.

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NASA released these phenomenal pictures of Saturn taken by Cassini as the giant planet blocked the Sun, creating this unreal image of light and shadow in a truly otherworldly context. The link to the images (or at least a link to a link to the images) is here. The direct link is here (with super-duper large images). This was taken last July on the "Wave at Saturn" day (or was it Take Your Kids To Work Day??) because both the Earth and Moon were in the Cassini photo.

Here is a close-up image using special cameras made showing Earth and the Moon (which appear only as a collective dot in the above photo) with some separation between them (i.e., the cameras used allowed for a separation).

Earth and the Moon, as seen from Saturn by little Cassini on July 19, 2013.

And there you have it, Dear Children: Everyone and everything that you know, that you ever will know ... or for that matter, that any human alive now has every known or will know (to say nothing of every human who has ever lived) ... and every human far into the future likely will ever know ... is on the slightly larger dot on the left side. Every idea, every love, every hate, every emotion, every EVERYTHING is all right there -- on that pale blue dot.

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OK, that's all for now.

--Regulus

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