Tag Archive: environment


Bet you didn’t know…

Sometimes I surf Google for fun science facts. Here are a few of my favorite weather mindbenders, in honor of our continuous descent into unpredictability.

hurricane-facts Got a hurricane coming? Prepare for the energy of 8,000 one-megaton bombs. (ListVerse)

– Around the globe, about 100 lightning strikes happen every second. And we all walk around with umbrellas held up by metal poles. (Zarius)

– Tornadoes generally spin clockwise in the southern hemisphere, and counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere. (ScienceKids)

cratrwets– Mt. Wai-‘ale-‘ale of Hawaii is the wettest spot in the world. Now say that five times real fast. (Muskurahat)

– The largest snowflake on record was 15 inches wide and 7.8 inches thick…it fell from the Montana sky in 1887 (Climate&Weather). Seriously, 125 years ago someone ran around during a snowstorm brandishing a ruler.

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Watch the ISS fly by today!

iss2_sts114Friday afternoon, December 14th, the ISS will fly high above the National Capital (DC) area, likely becoming the brightest object in the sky. The space station should be easily seen with the naked eye, even if there’s light cloud cover. ISS will appear as a bright moving point, perhaps similar in appearance to a distant airliner. Very distant, as she will come no closer than 318 miles, and will be moving 5 miles per second.

ISS will rise in the W/SW sky about 5:43 pm EST, moving up and to the right. About a minute later, she will pass about 11 degrees right of the very thin Moon at a low altitude. About two minutes later, she will be due West at an altitude of 35 degrees. A minute later, she will culminate fairly high in the northwest. Two minutes after culminating, ISS will disappear into the shadow of the Earth low in the northeastern sky.

It is not possible to give exact times of the passage, but these times should be plus/minus just a few minutes of the actual flyover. If you’re outside no later than 5:40pm and hang out for 10 minutes, you likely can’t miss it.

On a personal note, I’ve witnessed this flyover a couple of times. She looks like a bright sphere, kinda like a UFO. It is awe-inspiring to see for ourselves that we’re up there!

If you want to see the schedule for upcoming flyovers, you can enter your zip code here and get the local times to eye the sky.

Source: Internal email from NASA (not confidential)
Image from Astronomy Picture of the Day by NASA

Time to break out the hot chocolate and bundle up for a long night. Tonight is the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower (BBC News). This year should be even better since it coincides with the new moon. This is definitely worth braving the cold!

Take a look at UniverseToday’s map (below)…the red X marks the spot where the meteors will originate. Even if you can’t find the spot, keep your eyes on the east/northeast sky and you’re likely to catch the action. You might have 10 minutes without anything, but you might have 10 minutes with 30 meteors. Keep in mind a lot of your visibility can be affected by air and light pollution. Here’s Visual Astronomy’s tips on getting around that.

geminids-580x397Best times to be watching the sky is from twilight until the wee hours. 2pm is predicted (EarthSky) to be the best local time (anywhere you live) since it marks the point where Gemini is directly overhead of your location.

If you’d rather stay inside, NASA will be airing the shower live on their Ustream channel from Marshall Spaceflight Center (starting at dusk) as well as answering questions LIVE (starting 11pm EST) via NASA chat.

And if you’re a stargazing buff, check out the International Meteor Organization for all the boring data like vectors and radiants.

Supermagnified images give us a whole new perspective on the world around us. Here are a few of the better ones I found. Take a stab at what these are—answers are at the bottom, but try to guess before you scroll down. Some of these are downright barf-worthy.

1) Looks like ancient Greek ruins, right? This is actually a snowflake. (WhyFiles.org)

2) Not too shocking…this is a butterfly wing. (TheChive.com)

3) You might have a good shot here if you’re an oreo cookie nut. (SuperPunch.net)

4) Well hello there, Mr. E. Coli. This little guy wrecks havoc on our gastro system—well played, E., well played. (WeCreateSuccess.net)

5) This pretty pink flower is a close up of a fallopian tube. (UK MailOnline)

6) And lest the men be the only ones barfing up lunch from #5, this final image is of an eyebrow. Excuse me while I add moisturizer to my shopping list. (UK MailOnline)

The University of Sheffield and London College of Fashion developed CatClo, a liquid laundry additive. Nothing impressive, Tide and Gain do the same thing, right?

CatClo takes our laundry to a whole new level of clean, though. In a day of wearing the treated clothes, titanium dioxide nanoparticles latch onto enough nitrogen oxides to counteract your vehicle’s air pollution. The nitrogen oxides wash out in the rinse cycle, and your clothes are back in collection mode.

I dunno about you, but I am so doing this.