Planets After The Eclipse

The night after the total lunar eclipse, the Moon was back to being brilliantly bright (fading each night to a new moon in 14 days, of course) and it was accompanied by two bright planets.

Lower right, headed toward setting in the west for the night, is Jupiter. Upper left, just rising in the east, very near Orion, is Mars.


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Filed under Astronomy, Photography


The storm is gone and our democracy is still here. -Ish, at least.

As with the election, so with the weather. It can always be so much worse – and it might be any time.

But for now, we’ll take it. “Perfect is the enemy of good,” as they say, and there’s a lot of truth to that.

Tomorrow’s another day.

We fight on.

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Filed under Photography, Politics, Sunsets, Weather


Early again today with a couple of quick notes and one critically important message for the day:

    1. Critically important message for the day – if you’re in the US and eligible,


    2. For last night’s total lunar eclipse, the last one until 2025, as expected, I saw exactly diddly squat.
    3. In case you haven’t heard, there’s an incredibly important election in the US today, so make sure you vote if you’re eligible!
    4. About an hour before last night’s total lunar eclipse started there were huge breaks in the clouds and the extremely bright full moon was lovely. You can see Jupiter just above the tree in the lower left.
    5. In many US states, California included, you can sign up and register to vote on the day of the election, so not being registered isn’t an excuse. If you’re in one of those states and you can do this, then vote!
    6. We didn’t win the $2.04B lottery last night, even though they’re reporting that the ticket was sold in LA County. There’s something like ten million plus folks in LA County and about 99% of them bought tickets. Someone’s a megabazillionaire today, but not on our block.
    7. In most states (I’m not an expert, but it’s what I keep seeing repeated) if you’re in line when the polls close, stay there and they have to keep the polls open until everyone votes. So get in line and stand your ground to vote!
    8. This morning, we’re getting some much needed rain. It’s only an inch or so, but given the multi-year drought we’re in, that’s a good thing.
    9. Finally, even if it’s raining or snowing where you are, even if the lines are long (which is actually a good thing!), even if it’s inconvenient, even if it means you’re going to miss some TV show or sportsball event, even if you’re really tired – none of those are legitimate excuses. For probably the most critical threat to our government since the Civil War over 160 years ago, we all need to go out and vote. Bury the fascists and their attempts to drag us back to the 1850’s with an overwhelming vote for democracy, personal rights, and human decency.
    10. With this list format, pictures, and video, the formatting on this is going to be bizarre – whatever. You know what’s important?

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Politics, Video, Weather

Tonight’s Full Lunar Eclipse

Posting a bit earlier in the day to give everyone who might need it a heads up. There’s a full lunar eclipse tonight.

If you’re in the US midwest or on the east coast you can see the beginning of it just before dawn. If you’re on the North American west coast (about from the Rockies west, map here) you can see most or all of it in the middle of the night. If you’re on the Asian east coast you can see most or all of it just after sunset. If you’re in Hawaii, you’re golden, you can see it all overhead at a relatively comfortable hour!

Assuming your sky is clear. Here in SoCal…

Light rain started around midnight and is supposed to go through Wednesday morning. While we’re grateful for the rain (the first measurable rain since March and we’re entering the third? fourth? fifth? year of a critical drought) the timing is less than optimal.

This is the last total lunar eclipse in about three years, so if you get a chance, take a peek!

Start times for different events:

First contact with umbra
(the deep part of the Earth’s shadow)
09:09 04:09 01:09
50% partial 09:44 04:44 01:44
Start of totality 10:17 05:17 02:17
Mid eclipse 10:59 05:59 02:59
End of totality 11:42 06:42 03:42
50% partial 12:14 07:14 04:14
Final contact with umbra 12:49 07:49 04:49

Remember, all you need to see a lunar eclipse (other than a clear sky or a hole in the clouds) is ye olde Mark I human eyeball. Binoculars or a small telescope might let you see more color or detail, but the naked eye works just fine. (It’s a solar eclipse that you never, EVER want to look at without protection.)

How dark will this eclipse be? How colorful? Will the moon look red, orange, brown? Who knows, they’re all different. That’s the great part of it! If you snap a picture, feel free to share it!

And that whole “signs & portents” thing where the full moon starts to turn dark and then blood red in the sky on the eve of the US midterm elections. It’s strictly a coincidence. Totally by chance. It means nothing. At all. No danger being foretold. None.

Just make sure you go out tomorrow and vote anyway, just to make sure. Seriously!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Weather


I am a transplant from Vermont to Southern California. I’m not the only one.

Okay, maybe these maples on the other side of the canyon didn’t come from Vermont. Given transportation costs and other logistics, they probably came from Washington, Oregon, Colorado, or someplace a couple thousand miles closer. Still, they’re kindred spirits and until they tell me that they’re not from Vermont or elsewhere in New England, then I’ll go on believing that they are.

Their fall colors prove it.

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We’ve had the two flights to and from Chicago in September for Worldcon, but that’s it for the past three years. And it’s been way, Way, WAY, WAY too long since I’ve had a flight in the left seat at the pointy end.

Looking back through the photos, there were years that had more than a dozen trips to cons, to see relatives, to weddings, to Chiefs games…

Getting back to that would be excellent.

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Filed under Flying, Photography, Travel


Big city, no wildlife, the paved over urban jungle. Right?

Yeah, if you’ve perused this site you’ve seen pictures of deer and raccoons and opossums and rabbits and squirrels and skunks and a few dozen bird species and god knows how many lizards and…

But me? I’m just an old Boy Scout from Vermont. I know that there are critters out there. So earlier this week, in the back yard, when I saw a couple odd looking piles of scat, it piqued my interest. (For those who weren’t Boy Scouts, “scat” is a fancy, semi-polite term for “animal shit.” It often has “things” embedded in it which will tell you what the critter has been eating.

Grizzly Bear Warning Sign Bells

So these small piles of dark scat have berries and nuts as well as fur, so probably something omniverous-ish. Smaller than a bear (probably), and there really are bears around, although more likely to be seen near the bigger mountains in places like Pasadena and Glendale, bigger than a feral cat. Yes, a curiosity. Also curious how it’s found in the back yard, which is surrounded on all sides by at least a 5′ chain link fence. So either something that’s coming from tree to tree or a jumper.

This morning, I found this on the front yard, well away from the sidewalk, which is where the rude folks walking their dogs let them leave a pile for me to clean up.

That most certainly wasn’t there last night – and it’s right where I should be able to see it on the front porch security camera. So let’s see what motion there was last night other than cars driving by…

(Click on any image to enlarge it. If you save all five temporarily, you can flip between them quickly and it’s pretty clear who our visitor is.)

Rabbits are a known issue in both the front and the back yard, so my suspicion is that this dude spooked a rabbit into the bushes and then came looking for him. Unsuccessfully, as far as I can tell.

I hear these coyotes a couple times a week, but they usually don’t come all the way to the top of the hill, preferring to stay down in the canyons. Of course, this also explains all of the shipping crates left around the yard for Acme equipment.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography


Montreal, from the 1967 World’s Fair. Designed by R. Buckminster Fuller, now used for the Biosphere Museum.

Name and personal information on the seagull wasn’t available. It didn’t stop to sign a waiver.

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Filed under Photography, Travel

Danny Elfman At The Bowl

You might recall that on Saturday I and most of the family were at the Hollywood Bowl for the Danny Elfman concert. I posted at the beginning, then enjoyed the show.

It might have been absolutely amazing!

Excellent graphics to go along with the music, usually very bizarre.

“Only A Lad” – there were several classic Oingo Boingo songs, along with a lot of his other pretty hardcore rock and punk tunes. For starters.

The wide angle view, with the two big screens on each side, and then two more out even further to the side and closer to us. There might have been another set up behind us, but we were in a good location so I didn’t worry about what was behind us.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” – mixed in with the Oingo Boingo and punk were selections from his dozens and dozens and dozens of movie scores and television theme songs.

This whole slection was done live with the primary singers, a full orchestra, and a choir. NOT a subtle or small production.

Amazing work to see done live, coordinated with the video from the movie on the big screen behind them.

The entire production was almost too much, just overwhelming. It’s so rare that he performs live these days, just one Coachella set a couple weeks ago and these two nights at the Bowl (plus an odd short show at the Bowl once or twice) since 1995. Twenty-seven years and you can count on one hand the number of his live concerts – and we were there!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Music, Photography

Return Of The Juncos

It was actually Saturday the 22nd, but I haven’t had a chance to get a picture of them yet. They’re small and zippy!

Even these pictures sort of suck since they’re just cell phone zoom photos shot from 15-20 feet away through a double sliding glass door. It’s the best I could do today – these little clowns spook easily.

As I’ve reported in the past, we have two who seem to live here year around. (“Uno Junco” and “Dos Junco” because creativity isn’t my strong suit?) The others all vanish overnight in the spring, then come back in late October.

I think there were between 15 and 18 out there tonight, but again, “small and zippy.” They’re in those bushes along the fence on either side, up in the trees, on the gutter, in the bushes beside the patio, munching on bird seed, flitting, flying, fighting…

I was never able to get more than six in a picture at one time (like this one) but there was a crowd of them. They’re cute little clown birds and it will be fun to watch them every day for the next few months!


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Filed under Birds, Critters, Photography