Fiat Lux 2019

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the first day of the Christmas lights going up. This year is the latest that Thanksgiving can ever be, November 28th, so there’s no time to delay.

After years of putting up massive numbers of lights at our old house, we moved about eighteen months ago into a much smaller place. So last year was a bit of a learning experience. This year, having one Christmas worth of experience, it went a bit better on day one.

While the lights often look like fine spider webs of colored or sparkling luminescence, there’s a blob over the garage door that defies that.

It’s more like a black widow spider web in form rather than one of those gorgeous, symmetric, orb weaver webs. Just a weird blob of lights in a glob or a clot.

Blob. Glob. Clot.

Might have to do something about that.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography

Thanksgiving 2019

I was curious so I went to see what I wrote her last Thanksgiving. I see that I was probably tired and a bit overwhelmed by the events of the holiday. We had just been through a large brush fire a few weeks earlier. There were a lot of stressors in our lives.

I wrote, “Let’s all hope that next Thanksgiving we can all be thankful that those crises are less threatening than they are this Thanksgiving.”

It’s next Thanksgiving. On a personal basis, a number of issues are better, some much better. On a national, historical, planetary basis, those crises are worse, not better at all.

NEXT Thanksgiving – people, we’ve got to do better!


On a much more granular level, it was a lovely Thanksgiving feast. I hope that you and yours had a wonderful holiday as well.

Tomorrow we start the Christmas lights, weather permitting.

Damn, Thanksgiving is late this year!

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Owl Sounds

The predicted storm has arrived and we’ve gotten about an inch of rain down here in the city, twice that or more up in the mountains, and above about 5,000′ there’s snow, which has made a mess of travel between LA and Northern California and LA and Las Vegas. Outside now it’s about 43° and raining steadily.

Over the sound of the rain and the furnace I can hear a couple of our owls. They’re close, but when I went out into the cold on the front porch I couldn’t see them.

They sound pretty much as they always do. Shouldn’t they sound different? Shouldn’t they sound pissed off and cold and wet and hungry? Or are owls endowed with a stoic reserve in our anthropomorphic pantheon, oblivious to the weather good or bad, just accepting what is as what is?

Unless it’s a drastic difference, I doubt I would be able to detect the difference between a bored owl, a horny owl, or a cold and wet and pissed off owl.

Instead all I hear is the same old hooting, haunting, echoing across the street and down the hill to the responses from the other owls. Who sound just as stoic.

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Here It Comes

The holidays?

Well, yes, alright. There’s that. I can use the time off. But in about six hours, we’re going to get hit with this:

(Image from NOAA Hi-Def Radar app)

That should make the morning commute just…beyond description.

At least we’re not trying to drive a long way or get on a plane this weekend. Given the multiple large storms hitting the West Coast, Denver, the upper Midwest, New England, it’s going to be a good weekend to shelter in place.

Be safe out there, folks!

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Filed under Weather

No Context For You – November 25th

That’s no moon…

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Filed under Astronomy, Paul, Photography

Venus & Jupiter

As we saw about a week ago, we have a couple of bright planets in our western sky at sunset. Jupiter’s motion is taking it toward the sun from our viewpoint, so it will be heading toward the morning sky in early 2020. But Venus’s motion has it going the other way, heading toward greatest elongation on March 25, 2020. Tonight as their paths converged was their conjunction, or closest approach.

See them there in the sunset, below the wires and above the trees across the street? (Plus Saturn above the wires to their upper left – see comments below about where it’s going.)

They stand out to the eye at sunset, both very bright. Venus is in the lower left, Jupiter in the upper right.

You might have to move around a bit to get a good view between any buildings, trees, or other obstacles on your horizon. If you can get a pair of binoculars, they’ll be amazing looking and you should easily be able to see some of the Galilean moons around Jupiter.

Through the telephoto lens you can lose the perspective with the ground, but you might be able to see Venus as a crescent and detail on Jupiter.

As for those aforementioned Galilean moons, if you take the picture above and click on it to see it full sized, you can see a hint of them being captured. In a line on about a 45° angle, a couple of pixels to the upper left, one on the lower right…

Here’s what it looks like on my monitor.

Here’s the big thing that I’m always repeating at events like these, especially since so much coverage comes from pathetic click-bait run websites – THIS WASN’T AN EVENT THAT ONLY HAPPENED SUNDAY NIGHT!

If you didn’t get to see Jupiter and Venus tonight, go look tomorrow night, or any time the rest of the month, or even into early December! The two planets will be moving further apart from one another from our perspective, but Jupiter will be clearly visible (moving closer and closer to the horizon every day after sunset) until at least December 5th or 7th or even later if you have a clear horizon and dark skies.

Even after that, Venus will be getting higher in the sky every night after sunset until March 25th, and will still be visible through the end of May! Plus, Saturn!

Look at that first picture in this post, the wide angle one – see that dot way up above the phone wires, over to the left a bit from Jupiter and Venus, sort of above the TV antenna on the neighbor’s house? That’s Saturn, trailing behind Jupiter on its way toward our morning sky. It will be passing Venus the week of December 9th, in about two weeks. So watch for a repeat of this sort of spectacle in your evening sky.

Get out there, folks!

These are not things that *BANG!!*, happen, and they’re gone. To be clear, some astronomical events are – eclipses, for example, or occultations where a star, planet, comet, or asteroid disappears behind the moon, planet, or asteroid. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Events related to the planets moving around in the sky drag out over WEEKS! Today might be the closest – but they were close yesterday and they’ll be close tomorrow.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Skylight Moon

One thing about having a big, fancy, east-west aligned skylight in the kitchen is that, when the geometry is right, you can watch the full moon rise through it.

Straight up the slot!!

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Filed under Astronomy, Castle Willett, Photography