Category Archives: Weather

Up Or Down?

Are we looking down at the ocean from low Earth orbit or looking up toward space through Rayleigh scattered sunlight?

It’s not easy to tell. Maybe if there had been a 737 on it’s way into Burbank, or the odd hawk or seagull soaring around. Or, on the other hand, maybe a bit of solar panel or a corner of a Dragon or Soyuz for context.

The trees are a dead giveaway.

Very, very few trees growing in low Earth orbit. As a rule.

Technically I guess you can’t rule out the arrival of one of the giant tree-like bioships from some advanced civilization, but the odds aren’t in your favor on that one.

So the bad news is that I didn’t get to go drift weightless today in low Earth orbit. The good news is that it was a nice, warm, sunny day here on this patch of the planet’s surface.

Leave a comment

Filed under Photography, Weather

Venus In The Pink

Just like “Groundhog Day.” A truly great movie, by the way, but I never actually wanted to live it.

Another evening where I walked away from the mountain of work at my desk and the Deadlines From Hell ™ and took thirty or forty minutes to read and watch the sunset.

Do you see Venus up there? It’s right there in the clouds, but they’re not that thick, so you can see it shining through just below the three power lines, about halfway between the trees on either side of the picture. Click on the image to blow it up to full size – it’s there!

Can you see it now? Like a diamond floating up there in pink cotton candy.

The sunset two days ago was very much orange and yellow where tonight was very much pink and purple.

And as before, and as it will be tomorrow, eventually it all fades to black. I waved to Major who was walking by, disappointed by the absence of the bunnies who won’t come out when I’m sitting out there.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll sit out in the back yard to harass the wrens instead so that Major can spook the bunnies.

It’s the little things.


Filed under Astronomy, CoronaVirus, Photography, Weather

Sunsets Are A Process

It goes without saying, but if anyone’s going to say it anyway it’s going to be me. Sunset photos are gorgeous, but it’s a process.

You can’t capture them in a single photo, or even a video.

The colors shift ever so gradually. Sometimes there are shades of orange, red, pink, purple, blue, and they all slide and transform second by second, but not so that you can actually see or notice, only feel.

Sometimes with layers of clouds and all of their holes and nooks and crannies (and crooks and nannies) you’ll get brighter moments, and rays, and shadows.

You can’t feel the breeze, or smell those bushes in a picture or a video. You can’t watch the bunnies come out to see if Major’s still around.

I took a break from a work avalanche and sat out reading a book. At one point I heard a buzzing sound from that bush right in front of me and thought it might be one of those HUGE flying beetles, but bigger than I had ever seen before. Close! It was a hummingbird, about three feet from me. It didn’t stick around when I moved.

The only bad part about a real book instead of an e-file on my iPad or phone is that about this point it got too dark to read. Oh, well. Back to generating documents and uploading them to the auditors.

Wash your hands. Stay home. Wear a mask.

Leave a comment

Filed under CoronaVirus, Photography, Weather

Clouds Adding Character

Tonight’s layers of clouds didn’t “partially obscure the conjunction of the crescent moon and Venus.” Nah!

Such negativity! “Obscure” is such a judgmental term!

Nah, let’s say that they added color and character!

“Character!” Yeah, that’s it!

It was a group effort tonight! Clouds, moon, Venus!

Leave a comment

Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Weather

Clear & A Million Again

Over the last week or two there have been a series of AMAZING passes of the ISS over SoCal in the evenings, and we’ve had rain and clouds every freaking day. I may have whinged about this.


…clear and a million again. Not a cloud to be seen.

Quick, we’ve had ISS passes almost every night for the last two weeks! When’s the pass tonight?


The next visible pass over SoCal is a truly marginal one, low in the sky, only lasts thirty seconds, in the morning, nine days from now.

Foxtrot. Mike. Lima.

Did everyone enjoy Easter?


Leave a comment

Filed under Photography, Space, Weather

April Snow

It sounds absurd to many to hear that the six straight days of rain in SoCal left as much as a foot of snow. It would be absurd if there were 12″ of snow in downtown LA or at LAX or at our house at ANY time of year. (I’ve been here over 45 years and I remember once getting what could generously be called a “dusting.”) Yet from the hangar today in Camarillo, there it was!

The key, of course, is to realize that there’s a lot of elevation to play with around here. LAX is at 125′ elevation, Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley (my part of town) is at 802′. I think our house is at 1,041 feet. We don’t get snow.

But up in the mountains on the northern end of Ventura County (shown) they get up to 5,000′ or more. And in Los Angeles County, those gorgeous peaks you see in the background during the Rose Parade every January 1st, several peaks climb to over 9,000′ and Mount Baldy is over 10,000′. So, yes, they get snow. There are ski resorts up there. (Yes, in LA in the winter you can often go surfing in the morning and snowboarding in the afternoon. If you surf. And snowboard. I don’t do either, BTW.)

That all having been said, it is a bit odd to get snow this late in the year. But then again, it’s also odd to get rain for six days in a row (over 4″ around our house).

So we don’t have it nearly as bad as the folks in Maine who got a foot of heavy snow late this week and were losing power all over the place, or all of those who are going to get up to a foot of it across huge swaths of the Midwest tonight and tomorrow.

Ours just made for some picture postcard views.

Leave a comment

Filed under CAF, Los Angeles, Photography, Weather

Castle In Clouds

It’s Castle Peak to be specific.

You’ve seen it on fire from our front yard, and in any number of evening sunset and ISS pass photos as well. This picture shows it wreathed in low hanging clouds. The perspective’s different because it’s taken on the street down on the flatland at the bottom of our hill.

You’re getting it tonight, even though there are way too many wires, street lights, and telephone poles in it, because:

  1. It was a very pretty sight
  2. I’ve got an amazing story to tell you but I need to do it correctly, and…
  3. I’m out of time tonight (so what else is news?)

I know. I’m a tease.

Go wash your hands.

Leave a comment

Filed under Photography, Weather

When It Rains, It Pours

There’s a lot going on these days.

You might have noticed.

A lot of stress, not a lot of sleep, a lot of angst, not a lot of relaxation.

“Take care of yourself,” folks say, and that’s good advice. When you get on a plane they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first if there’s an emergency, because that way you can help others without being one of those who needs help.

So tonight was going to be great. There was an ASTONISHING space station pass over Southern California. Almost horizon to horizon, straight through the zenith, brighter than Venus. (Remember Venus?)

(Image from – get it – use it!)

On top of that, there’s a “SUPERMOON” tonight! Yeah, y’all know how I feel about the sensational headlines and click bait. It’s a full moon when the moon is at perigee, the point in a body’s object when it’s closest to Earth, so it looks about 1% bigger than “normal.” You would never know that just by looking at it. But, it’s a full moon, it will be bright, it will be spectacular.

Been looking forward to this for days and days. Needed to remember the joys of the little things.

And Mother Nature said,

It’s been POURING. Flash flood alerts sort of pouring. Biblical-class rain on and off. You would be soaked to the skin just thinking about going outside.

So there was a really spectacular ISS pass. But we couldn’t see it.

There was a beautiful, bright full moon rising. (Unclear if it was “bad.”) But we couldn’t see it.

Mother Nature’s a bitch.

And not the good kind.

Leave a comment

Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Weather

Altostratus Undulatus Or Gravity Wave Clouds?

Yesterday afternoon, from horizon to horizon, the high level clouds were lined up like rows.

I’ve seen this before, but there are two types of clouds that can form this way – altostratus undulatus clouds or gravity wave clouds.

“Gravity wave” clouds sound just absolutely bitchin’ and when I first heard the term I was hoping it was a manifest, macro-scale effect in our atmosphere from the sort of gravity waves that are just now being detected from colliding black holes. I wanted an unbelievably huge release of energy a hundred thousand years ago and a hundred thousand light years away to making patterns in our sky.

It doesn’t.

Instead, “gravity wave” clouds are formed the same way that the wind whipping over the ocean forms ocean waves. It’s a matter of buoyancy differences in a fluid in motion causing oscillations in the fluid flow. Still cool, but not black-hole-collision-drawing-patterns-in-our-sky cool.

This could also be (and most likely are) altostratus undulatus clouds, which are wispy clouds of ice, high in the atmosphere, which forms bands like this as they flow over mountains or coastlines which disrupt the smooth flow of a weather front. We had a a front moving in, there’s a coastline over to our west, and these are wispy clouds of ice, high in the atmosphere.

My money’s on altostratus undulatus.

Either way – cool looking clouds.

And if you click on them and blow them up to full-sized, can you see the tiny sliver of the crescent moon in the upper left corner of one?

Leave a comment

Filed under Photography, Weather

No ISS Pass Tonight Again

It was solid overcast for the second night in a row (the pretty picture above is from a few days ago, it was MUCH cloudier tonight) so again we were unable to view the really tasty ISS pass that was going overhead.

Our next play at the Ahmanson got cancelled due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Our next concert at the Disney got cancelled due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Working from home is a disconcerting change which I could live without. It doesn’t help that, with our office (and city, and state) now completely shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workload and stress and deadlines have shut up.

I wanted to download and start playing Doom Eternal, but I find that my five-year-old computer, which works just FINE for what I use it for 99.9999% of the time, has a five-year-old graphics card that won’t even start to keep up with what’s needed for a new game. (Bad words were said.)

Yet we soldier on.

One foot in front of the other.

The only way out is through.

Truly – what are the other options? I’m open to suggestion.

Leave a comment

Filed under CoronaVirus, Space, Weather