Tonight’s 97% Lunar Eclipse

I’m posting this earlier than normal tonight since I want anyone who reads this (all 10 or 12 of you!) to have the information on tonight’s partial lunar eclipse. Go here to follow along with the schedule – we’re starting in a touch over three hours!

First of all, this is a lunar eclipse, not a solar eclipse. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the cautions about watching a solar eclipse ONLY with proper eye protection. (Who wants to go blind?) But this is a lunar eclipse, so just relax and watch it with ye olde naked eye! Get a lawn chair or blanket, kick back, stay warm, watch the show!

In short, the show starts with the penumbral eclipse as the Moon enters the “outside ring” of the Earth’s shadow. Not much to see, some dimming. That will start at 06:02 UTC (22:02 PST Thursday night on the US west coast, 01:02 EST Friday morning on the US east coast).

The real action starts when the Moon enters the umbra, the “inner ring” of the Earth’s shadow. You’ll start to see dimming of the Moon’s left-hand limb, growing over the next ninety or so minutes. That will start at 07:18 UTC (23:02 PST Thursday night on the US west coast, 02:02 EST Friday morning on the US east coast).

The maximum eclipse (97% covered) will be at 09:02 UTC (01:02 PST Friday morning on the US west coast, 04:02 EST Friday morning on the US east coast).

Then it all just runs backwards as the Moon starts to exit the umbra, which finishes at 10:47 UTC (02:47 PST Friday morning on the US west coast, 05:47 EST Friday morning on the US east coast).

This, of course, all assumes that it’s not cloudy.

If it’s cloudy, you can follow along live at a number of sites, such as these:

Finally, will it be clear, or at least clear-ish, here in Los Angeles tonight? Well…maybe. Right now it’s about the same as last night, when we had an ISS rising. Speaking of which, just seconds before a Zoom event that I had tonight, there was another really nice ISS pass. And the clouds?

Rising from the west! I wish that I had fewer overhead lines and aircraft, but that isn’t going to happen in Los Angeles. ISS coming from the horizon to straight overhead and then some with the “light bucket” lens, Venus setting near the bottom. And as it goes over we do a quick flip…

…to watch it disappear and fade near the northeastern horizon.

Still a few clouds.

So now, we’re 3:11:20 out from the start of the eclipse. Clear skies!!

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ISS Rising Through Clouds

Tonight it’s clouds, unlike last night’s fog and haze and layers of ice crystals making things fuzzy. Plus, we’re back into some decent ISS evening passes. Time to fire up the light bucket!

(I’m giving you the full-sized file – click on it to blow it up BIG!)

While it is fall, the foliage hasn’t gotten that red – there were a couple of cars parked there with their brake lights on.

On the left side, just to the right of the telephone pole and just above the trees, Venus is setting. Very bright.

The ISS is rising from behind that tree toward the upper right, fading out as it goes into shadow just before it passes in front of Vega, the bright star there.

Moving horizontally way off in the distance is China Airlines Flight #008, coming in to LAX from Taipei. They’ve been in the air for almost eleven hours.

Partially hidden behind that big tree on the far right is Alaska Airlines Flight #520 from Seattle, going into Burbank. They’re four minutes out on a two hour flight.

Finally, there are our scattered to moderate clouds. We’ll see how they look tomorrow night when I’m going to want to be looking at the 98% lunar eclipse.

 

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22ยบ Halo

I went out this evening to check out the clouds. They’re moving in, which is BAD for Thursday night. (More about that in a bit.) The eleven-day-old moon is bright, but between it and the clouds…

There’s that full 22ยบ halo around the moon, the result of the moonlight being refracted through layers of ice crystals high in the atmosphere.

The long lines on the right are aircraft contrails. It’s very pretty and all, but those clouds are expected to stick around and get worse for a few days.

The problem with that is that there’s an almost total lunar eclipse on Thursday night/Friday morning. It’s over three hours long, with mid-eclipse at about 01:00 here in California. It’s a long one, well over three hours, and pretty much anywhere in North America you’ll have a good chance of seeing it.

But only if it’s not totally obscured by clouds. Obviously.

We’ll see what Thursday night brings for Los Angeles. Tonight all I can see is the moon and (just barely) Jupiter. If this was Thursday night I would be seeing a reddish ring and not much else. Let’s hope for better in 48 hours.

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Smoke On

Following each pass by the Condor Squadron yesterday, there would be a trail of smoke.

It was fascinating watching it drift and curl, an active, visible display of the wake turbulence that follows high performance or large aircraft. (Okay, technically all aircraft have wake turbulence, but a 747 isn’t going to worry about the consequences of following a Cessna 172, while if the situation is reversed, a 172 following a 747 can get flipped right out of the sky in an instant.)

It drifted downwind, away from us, curling and twisting, descending toward the ground. And everyone else ignored it, looking in back of us for the planes that had just laid down the smoke, coming around for another pass.

And before anyone gets upset by the “pollution,” this isn’t exhaust from the engine or massive amounts of toxic waste being dumped. To make smoke for a demo or air show, planes have a separate reservoir of “smoke oil,” which is a biodegradable, non-toxic mineral oil that’s injected into the exhaust manifold. No chemtrails necessary!

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Missing Man Today

Today’s “missing man” flyover pass.

First pass is our CAF SoCal Wing PBJ (B-25), F6 Hellcat, and an F8 Bearcat. (The Bearcat isn’t ours, I believe it’s from the Palm Springs Air Museum, but I could very well be wrong. Ours is in mid overhaul.) It’s the F8 that pulls out of formation overhead.

Second pass are T-6 Texans / SNJs from the Condor Squadron out of Van Nuys.

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Speaking Of Big Birds

Let’s ignore the ignorant insanity being displayed by prominent guanopsychotic politicians while they accuse Sesame Street characters of being Communists. (A phrase I NEVER thought that I would have to use!) Today, while cleaning up the breakfast dishes, out in the back yard landed two REALLY BIG BIRDS!

I’m used to seeing them up in those pine trees on the hillside below us there in the background, or up on the power poles out in front by the street. This is the first time I’ve seen one one the ground and fairly close.

They circled the yard about ten feet up, then this one landed and the other went up on the patio roof. (High cover for this mission?) It was shocking just how big this guy is when seen up close like this. I’ve seen wild turkeys on the ground and they’re not much bigger than this.

Given their soaring flight, the huge beaks with the curved tips, the hackles around the neck (not easy to see in this shadowed position, but playing with Photoshop and pushing the contrast and brightness, you can see the rough feathers there), this pair were obviously ravens.

A great way to start the day!

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Attack Of The Pothole From HELL

Five or six weeks ago they were scraping and repaving a half-mile stretch of one of the primary streets here. This was a good thing – that stretch of the road was horribly full of potholes and cracks.

In the process, as they scraped off the old top layers of paving, they left the Pothole From HELL. It was right at the point where the scraped section met the section that had been left alone. I was crawling, no more than 15 or 20 miles an hour, but it was enough to really rattle ye olde front end.

I checked the front end after for any missing pieces or damage, but didn’t see anything, so I kept driving the car. For a couple of weeks, including on the freeway where “traveling with the flow of traffic” or “maximum freeway speed” is a pretty good clip. If you’re from LA, you know what that means… (It’s not 65!)

No worries!

Except that about ten days ago I noticed this:

Well, there’s your problem! That’s a big dent and a big crack. Definitely not safe for “maximum freeway speed!”

So I stopped driving the vehicle, ordered a replacement wheel, and today finally got in to the shop to have it replaced. So the guy pulls the tire off and literally gasped in shock and surprise.

Well, THERE’S your problem! It seems that in terms of the threats of a tire blowing out and sending me spinning and flipping and burning across five lanes of traffic at “Maximum Freaking Freeway Speed,” the cracked and dented wheel wasn’t the top threat at all!

Good to know…

So in addition to replacing that dented rim, I also got to pay for a new set of four Pirelli high performance tires.

But I’m not dead! Some days it’s better to be lucky than good, I guess.

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First Orion Sighting

Orion is a favorite constellation of mine. It’s bright, it’s easy to see and identify, and with nothing more than a decent pair of binoculars the Orion Nebula (the middle star in the “sword”) is an easy catch.

Tonight was the first time this fall that I’ve seen Orion. I knew that it had been rising late in the evening for a few weeks. But from the back yard there are trees everywhere, blocking the view. In addition, we’ve had a lot of fog and clouds for the last week or two.

Tonight was clear and I went out front, across the street, to finally see it rising. More than Halloween or the end of Daylight Saving Time, seeing Orion for the first time is my sign that autumn is here and winter’s around the corner.

Your next clear night, before you go to bed, go take a look at Orion. Tell it I sent you.

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Throttle Quadrant

They don’t make them like this any more.

Literally.

That’s part of the problem.

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It Would Be Nice To See Her Fly Again

It’s been a few years since she’s flown, although her engines get fired up every now and then to move fluids around. She’s got a bit of “ramp rash” and would need a thorough going over and a bit more than routine maintenance.

It wouldn’t be easy, or quick, or inexpensive. But there are other C-46 Commandos still flying cargo and it’s not at all ridiculous to think of China Doll flying again. But the time? The dedication? The manpower? The money? Those are all in short supply.

Still, one can dream. I’ve never gotten to fly in her and it would sure be nice.

Dreams are important. Gotta hold on to them…

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