Category Archives: General

Hurricane Dorian Update

Hurricane Dorian is still moving west and is just about to cross onto the Bahama Islands.

Currently from the US National Hurricane Center:

9:30 AM EDT Sun Sep 1
Location: 26.5°N 76.6°W
Moving: W at 8 mph
Min pressure: 922 mb
Max sustained: 175 mph

That’s 282 Km/hr!

There is a video feed from Marsh Harbour Bahamas – how long it lasts is questionable though.

Movement of the storm while westerly at the moment is expected to take a northerly course over time unfortunately after languishing over the Bahamas. The change in course will send the storm north along the coast hopefully staying far enough off the coast to spare Florida the worst. The path of the storm could just as easily move more west and hit the Florida coast very hard. Fingers crossed for them.

The storm will cause havoc all along the southeastern US coast there is no doubt including and maybe especially North Carolina and even southern Virginia.

Hurricane Dorian

Here is a look at Hurricane Dorian on 29 August 2019. This storm had a central pressure of 948 mb with a sustained wind speed of 121 knots (224 kmh or 139 mph) according to the 06:00 ET / 10:00 UT update from the US National Hurricane Center. The storm is not expected to weaken as it makes its way to Florida.

The Bahamas are expected to be impacted by the storm tomorrow (Sunday) and Florida by Monday. The storm is expected to take a northern turn and possibly ride up the Florida coast or areas inland, neither of which bodes well.

The Kennedy Space Center region is more or less right in the path and the storm may weaken a little by the time it gets there (and that depends on the final track) it is still going to be very bad.

National Hurricane Center

Tropical Tidbits

BTW: I am still having a spot of bother on the publishing side as I”m not sure why things are not working properly. I’ll have it sorted shortly.

Leaving the Solar Doldrums?

The above chart, shows we are at the bottom of the solar cycle (Solar Cycle 24). It looks like the predictions for the progression to Solar Cycle 25 could be pretty good. We have already seen new sunspots with the correct magnetic polarity for the new cycle.

The northern pole of the Sun has been pretty busy too:

This polar jet from 22 July 2019 is about 33 percent of the solar radius.

I am looking forward to this cycle even more than usual. I want to see what happens when a big solar storm gets going. In 2003 my employment required I wear a pager. We used a satellite-based emergency pager and it was great, that is until the Halloween Storms; marking the end of that pager and I believe and pager company.

What about today? So much more of technology susceptible to space weather is commonplace, from getting driving directions in our cars to seeing if our front door is secure. The field of space weather and the cadre of researchers and satellite operators are in for interesting times ahead.

Images courtesy: XRT mission / Royal Observatory of Belgium / Harvard Univ.

Happy Solstice!

For me it is SUMMER! I hope it warms up and dries out some.

The Sun has reached the most northerly extent of the annual cycle of the seasons and will now begin the journey to the corresponding southernmost point.

In the north the daylight will begin to shorten and while it is called the start of summer. I hope so it has been quite cool and wet for many-many months.

In the south with regard to day / night cycles the opposite is true.

The time of the June Solstice is (or was) 15:54 UTC / 11:54 ET, today 21 June 2019.

Thanks to for the image.

Venus – Not Quite Our Twin

ESA: Appearances can be deceiving. This thick, cloud-rich atmosphere rains sulphuric acid and below lie not oceans but a baked and barren lava-strewn surface. Welcome to Venus.

The second planet from the Sun is often coined Earth’s ‘evil twin’ on account of it being almost the same size but instead plagued with a poisonous atmosphere of carbon dioxide and a sweltering 470ºC surface. Its high pressure and temperature is hot enough to melt lead and destroy the spacecraft that dare to land on it. Thanks to its dense atmosphere, it is even hotter than planet Mercury, which orbits closer to the Sun.

ESA’s Venus Express studied the planet from orbit between 2006 and 2014, providing the most in-depth studies of its atmospheric circulation to date. This false-colour image was taken in ultraviolet light with the Venus Monitoring Camera on 23 July 2007. It shows a view of the southern hemisphere from equator (right) to the pole (left) from a distance of 35 000 km from the surface of the planet.

Scientists think that Venus once looked a lot like Earth, but underwent an irreversible climate change that is often used as an extreme example of what happens in a runaway greenhouse effect.

The main source of heat in the Solar System is the Sun’s energy, which warms a planet’s surface up, and then the planet radiates energy back into space. An atmosphere traps some of the outgoing energy, retaining heat – the so-called greenhouse effect. It is a natural phenomenon that helps regulate a planet’s temperature. If it weren’t for greenhouse gases like water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and ozone, Earth’s surface temperature would be about 30 degrees cooler than its present +15ºC average.

Over the past centuries, humans have altered this natural balance on Earth, strengthening the greenhouse effect since the dawn of industrial activity by contributing additional carbon dioxide along with nitrogen oxides, sulphates and other trace gases and dust and smoke particles into the air. The long-term effects on our planet include global warming, acid rain and the depletion of the ozone layer. The consequences of a warming climate are far-reaching, potentially affecting fresh water resources, global food production and sea level, and triggering an increase in extreme-weather events.

There is no human activity on Venus, but studying its atmosphere provides a natural laboratory to better understand a runaway greenhouse effect. At some point in its history, Venus began trapping too much heat. It was once thought to host oceans like Earth, but the added heat turned water into steam, and in turn, additional water vapour in the atmosphere trapped more and more heat until entire oceans completely evaporated. Water vapour is still escaping from Venus’ atmosphere and into space today.

In the very long term – billions of years into the future – a ‘greenhouse Earth’ is an inevitable outcome at the hands of the aging Sun. Our once life-giving star will eventually swell and brighten, injecting enough heat into Earth’s delicate system that it will eventually become Venus’ true twin.

Read more here about the diverging histories of Venus, Earth and Mars and how studying our neighbour planets can teach us more about our own.


The Story of Robert Goddard

“The Story of Robert Goddard, Father of Modern Rocketry”

It is in memory of this brilliant scientist that NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, was established on May 1, 1959. = NASA

It seems like I can remember a television documentary on Goddard but I can’t seem to find it (it was a long while back). If I can figure out what it was I’ll post a link, it was quite good.

GLOBE Observer

As I was missing my years long stint as a co-operative weather observer I was looking for a good citizen science project, one that is quick and simple and most of all meaningful. Why did I leave the weather observing behind? I had to move. Nowadays I am traveling around the region much more than I historically had and encounter a great variety of habitats so this looks to be right up my alley as they say.

I am considering contacting the weather service to see if I can resume observations at my new location, since they have to supply the equipment (because these are “official” measurements), I’m not sure that will be possible. Hopefully GLOBE will fill the void.

If you would like to participate in citizen science this is one way to do it.
I am all signed up and ready to go. The set up process was quick and simple. The app has the appearance of being well thought-out and easy to use. I will post a few updates as I get used to the system.

This from the GLOBE site: GLOBE Observer is an international network of citizen scientists and scientists working together to learn more about our shared environment and changing climate. To participate, just download the GLOBE Observer app and submit regular observations.

The GLOBE Observer Program currently accepts observations of Clouds, Mosquito Habitats, and Land Cover with planned expansion to other types of data in the future. Read the rest at GLOBE Observer

Cargo Launch Later Today

Later today (17 April) Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station

Coverage begins at 20:15 UT / 16:15 ET

Launch at 20:46 UT / 16:46 ET

Happy Equinox!

For me it is the spring equinox and I will be happy to have the warmer temperatures we will (or should have) for the next few months.

I like to take the winter season in stride but I have to say this one seemed long and it was cold, much below average on both max and min temperatures. Plenty of snow too, but closer to average amounts it just never went away.

Those in the southern hemisphere this is the autumn equinox and shorter days are ahead.

The time of the equinox is 21:58 UTC / 17:58 EDT

The video is from the Kurdistan Planetarium