Astronomy Picture of the Week – Highlighting Titan’s Hazes

Back to Cassini’s Grand Finale… today we’re highlighting Titan

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft looks toward the night side of Saturn’s moon Titan in a view that highlights the extended, hazy nature of the moon’s atmosphere. During its long mission at Saturn, Cassini has frequently observed Titan at viewing angles like this, where the atmosphere is backlit by the Sun, in order to make visible the structure of the hazes.

Titan’s high-altitude haze layer appears blue here, whereas the main atmospheric haze is orange. The difference in color could be due to particle sizes in the haze. The blue haze likely consists of smaller particles than the orange haze.

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Great Guitar Solos – Jimmy Page Plays White Summer/Black Mountain Side Live on the Julie Felix Show (April 26, 1970)

Late! I’m so sorry…

Jimmy Page is here on the Julie Felix show, playing White Summer/Black Mountain Side on acoustic guitar. It’s probably my favorite version of the instrumental.

Sadly, the video quality is… poor… but then this is recovered raw footage. It aired on April 26, 1970.

If you listen closely, from 2:57 to 3:21, it sounds like he’s riffing on “Friends” just a tiny bit (different key and arrangement, obviously, but still).

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Astronomy Picture(s and Video) of the Week: US Total Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017

Taking a detour from Cassini’s Grand Finale to celebrate the solar eclipse we had in the US just this past Monday. I’m sad to say that, from my vantage point (Long Island, New York), it was pretty underwhelming. I wish I’d had the money and time to travel to somewhere along the path of totality and really observe it. Hopefully I’ll be able to for the next one. I’m quite positive that this isn’t my first, but it could just be that I watched clips of one when I was younger. Did the last total solar eclipse in the US happen sometime within the last 30 years?

Hm…

Anyways…

The eclipse has been called the “Great American Eclipse” which like… they know that Canada and South America have had total solar eclipses, too… right? I mean… the United States isn’t the only country in America you know… But anyways

The event’s shadow began to cover land on the Oregon coast as a partial eclipse at 4:06 p.m. UTC (9:06 a.m. PDT), and its land coverage ended as a partial eclipse along the South Carolina coast at about 6:44 p.m. UTC (2:44 p.m. EDT). Visibility as a partial eclipse in Honolulu, Hawaii began with sunrise at 4:20 p.m. UTC (6:20 a.m. HST) and ended by 5:25 p.m. UTC (7:25 a.m. HST).

Okay so…

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Some Stream-of-Consciousness About Nazis

I haven’t posted about Nazi invasion and terrorist attack in Charlottesville because I’m feeling… well…

You can easily see my thoughts and things on Facebook, where I let loose a tad with the re-posts…

But anyways…

I don’t really have much to say, to be honest. I’m grappling with my feelings, because, at the moment, I have to deal with the fact that I genuinely feel fine seeing these Nazis killed… and I’m not okay with that. That does not make me comfortable or happy. It seems like a betrayal of my ethics, considering I’m against the death penalty.

But these are also Nazis. I don’t think there’s another group in modern history that can be considered as evil as Nazis. And now they’re here, in the United States, in 2017, marching in our streets and killing citizens.

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Astronomy Picture of the Week – Prometheus and the Ghostly F Ring

Cassini’s Grand Finale…

The thin sliver of Saturn’s moon Prometheus lurks near ghostly structures in Saturn’s narrow F ring in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Many of the narrow ring’s faint and wispy features result from its gravitational interactions with Prometheus (86 kilometers, or 53 miles across).

Most of the small moon’s surface is in darkness due to the viewing geometry here. Cassini was positioned behind Saturn and Prometheus with respect to the sun, looking toward the moon’s dark side and just a bit of the moon’s sunlit northern hemisphere.

Also visible here is a distinct difference in brightness between the outermost section of Saturn’s A ring (left of center) and rest of the ring, interior to the Keeler Gap (lower left).

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 13 degrees above the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 13, 2017.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 680,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 4 miles (6 kilometers) per pixel.

Click the image for the tif file…

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Great Guitar Solos – Eddie Van Halen Plays Eruption Live

So, I have to admit up front that I’m just not a fan of Van Halen. But it’s pretty much only because of the lyrics. For whatever reason, no matter who the vocalist was, the lyrics were nearly always crap… at least in my opinion (and I understand others don’t agree… that’s fine).

See… lyrics are pretty important to me. If you’re going to write music that involves lyrics, all I ask is that you don’t make them out-and-out cringey. A lot of 80s hair metal bands claim to take their inspiration from Led Zeppelin, but it sometimes seems like they took their inspiration from Whole Lotta Love and Sick Again while ignoring basically everything else. Yes, Robert Plant had his lyrical duds, but he also had his lyrical genius, and at least with him, even his worst, most uninspired lyrics (like Thank You), aren’t ridiculously cringey (except maybe that line about bustles and may queens in Stairway to Heaven… because a bustle is a pair of panties, and May Queen was a popular brand of washing machine at the time… and I really cannot see how it fits with the rest of the song; I think it’s that line that really throws off any attempt to find a deeper meaning to the song). But so much of the 80s hair metal lyrics somehow manage to fly past cringey to just plain insulting, and Van Halen was no exception.

That said, if Van Halen had been a purely instrumental group, I would listen to them every single day, because musically they were phenomenal, and a lot of that was in no small part to Eddie.

So I want to highlight Eddie playing Eruption. I know this one is quite cliche, to the point where it’s relative “goodness” may be somewhat controversial these days, but to my ears, even though it absolutely is a technical masterclass missing much of the emotion I usually look for in guitarists, it’s still an absolutely brilliant piece of guitar work.

What I’m highlighting here is not the studio version. This is the live, 10 minute and 57 second solo. There isn’t much in the way of backing music, either. This is a guitar solo in the truest sense of the word…

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Astronomy Picture of the Week – Haze on the Horizon

Late on this one… by a week… I know why I’m missing these, too… real life has me extra stressed… 🙁

Anyways… here’s more from Cassini’s Grand Finale…

This false-color view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gazes toward the rings beyond Saturn’s sunlit horizon. Along the limb (the planet’s edge) at left can be seen a thin, detached haze. This haze vanishes toward the left side of the scene.

As usual… click on the image for the tif download…

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Quick Life Update

I apologize for the massively decreased posting here. I’m not leaving. A lot of things are in the way right now. So there’s a few reasons for my seeming silence here…

The first is the fact that the publicize feature is broken. In the past, when I published a post, it automatically got sent out to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and even LinkedIn. Now I have to do all that manually. I don’t have a problem with this for APotW and GGS, but for more in-depth posts I want people to dig into, the extra step of manually putting these out on my social networks is kinda annoying.

The second is that things in my life have taken an… interesting… turn. I work at Teavana, and Starbucks has announced that it will be closing all Teavana’s by Spring 2018. Unless I’m working at Starbucks by that time (they will have to hire me as whatever their equivalent of a team lead is, or as an assistant manager, and at a higher hourly wage than what I’m making now, which is $10), I’ll post my thoughts on all of this, on Teavana, and stuff like that. I’d call it a “tell all”, but it’s just going to be my opinion, others will disagree, and, well…

Teavana is, perhaps, not the most popular place in the tea community, and there are good reasons for that. But there’s a lot of good at Teavana, as well, not the least of which is that it has actually served as a reliable stepping stone for people interested in giving up soda and coffee and the like and want to move beyond the bagged stuff… so it won’t all be bad.

As for the third thing…

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Great Guitar Solos – Anna Calvi Plays I’ll Be Your Man Live in Hamburg

I really need to go back to scheduling these. Sorry I keep missing the original dates and such. *sigh*

Anyways…

About 24 hours late, here’s some more Anna Calvi. The song is called “I’ll Be Your Man”. They’re playing live in Hamburg on March 13, 2014. The studio version doesn’t have much of a solo, but live, she opens with an amazing, dissonant, tension-filled improvised solo that I absolutely love…

Keep in mind that this is an audience video recording…

The solo starts at 0:34 and ends at 2:34.

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