Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit of Venus

Today Venus will cross the sun. Many people are excited about this transit of Venus. And, yup, so am I. I am not the expert on this. But I know some things.

Such as when it starts and ends here in Flagstaff-- around 3:00 p.m. until after sunset. It lasts long enough that I didn’t need to reschedule my son’s orthodontist appointment that also starts at 3 p.m.

I know that you are not supposed to look at the sun or you will burn your eyes out, something like that. We still have our # 14 welder’s glasses from viewing the solar eclipse so we will use those. We might then head to either the U.S. Naval Observatory or Lowell Observatory. The U.S. Naval Observatory has resurrected a telescope that was used in the 19th century during that Venus transit.

 I also know that this event is rare. I won’t be alive for the next Venus transit(unless something very strange happens). Venus orbits the sun inside Earth’s orbit but is tilted so it rarely crosses in front of the sun from our vantage point here on Earth. The next time Venus crosses in front of the sun will be in 2117 And then again in 2125. Someone is going to have to get out some models to show me how this works, but for some reason the transits occur in pairs eight years apart and then not again for another century. The last Venus transit was in 2004.

What’s important to me is that we get to see it today, all of us, those who care to anyway. Some sites are broadcasting this event live, so even if your skies are socked in and grayer than gray you can watch this event. This is a chance to see our brilliant evening/ morning “star” in dark contrast against our tremendous sun. It’s definitely worth a look.

Bad Astronomy & EarthSky are chock full of Venus transit information.
Bad Astronomy will be hosting live
EarthSky's viewing tips.
Today’s APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) is “live” of the Venus transit

 Enjoy the view!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cicadas, Crickets, oh my

Putnam's cicada?

A friend once mentioned how she misses the chorus of birds that use to wake her up back in Vermont. Here in Flagstaff we can hear a raucous jay, a chipper chickadee and maybe a bird song here and there, but sadly no chorus. What would that sound like? But we aren’t without noises.

These days our airwaves are filled with soft clicks from thousands of cicadas. I have been trying to figure out how to describe this sound? As you walk down the street the loudness ebbs as you move past trees but, still, it is a constant noise. Web sites say it sounds like two coins clicking together. As a matter of fact one site claimed that you could entice the cicadas to click by clicking coins together. Like they need enticing, this sound starts in the morning and lasts until dusk (not complaining, just an observation).
Cute cicada, probably Putnam's cicada
Apparently these cicada are Platypedia putnami, Putnam’s cicada. A species of cicada found primarily in the Rocky Mountain region. These cicadas, “wing bangers,” lack the tymbal that creates the vibrating song of other cicadas. Putnam’s cicadas bang their wings together? (I was just watching one and it looked like they were striking the wings together or against the body, but not on the branches)on the branches to create the clicking sound. It’s the males attracting their mates.

Here is the cricket sound I recorded.

If you are wondering why I don’t have a photo of one, so am I. Before I decided to write this post the cicadas were dropping on me and scaring the bejeezus out of me. Now, I can’t find one for the life of me. Figures. If I get a photo soon I will post it. (found at last by my hubby)

Fortunately, the wonderful www is full of cicada lore and photos. Who knew? There are lots of cicada fans out there. Check out these sites for terrific cicada information.
Bug Eric
Cicada Mania
BugGuide with a photo of a Putnam's cicada

For my lullaby, I enjoy the soothing chirp of the crickets. But that is another story.

Some things are changing...

Annular eclipse, May 20, 2012 from Wupatki Natl Monument, photo by my hubbie
I have missed this blog and have thought and thought and thought about it. It will be mostly the same but some things will be changing. I love this planet Earth and this amazing universe so we will focus on small things like that, okay? :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday What is it

Yellow dusted petunia
Here is a Wednesday What Is It? Flagstaff residents: you cannot play (because you know the answer)! :) Answer is below so don't scroll down too fast if you want to guess.

What made the Flagstaff skies hazy for about two weeks in early June?
Hazy Flagstaff skies

What covered our shelves, roads, flowers with a fine layer of dust?

What was kicked up in swirls by cars as they drove down the road?

What was so thick on our porch that it allowed me to leave a footprint in the yellow dust?
Footprint in yellow dust
What created mini yellow dust devils in the wind?

Hint: it's natural, happens every year, this year seemed heavier...

Answer: It blows in the wind, and it needs to, and we have had a lot of wind this year- not that that has had anything to do with it...

Clouds of it puff from the ponderosa pine trees

it's the pollen. And based on the amount of pollen I have wiping from my shelves I predict a lot of hearty pine cones and happy squirrels. Our local paper had an article about it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Glad I was there

Big Lake big skies
I haven’t been writing in here lately. I realized two things.

1. Not much to write about when I am just walking around in a “circle”- good walking, not good writing. I have been walking around nearby Buffalo Park every morning. I am very proud of that but it doesn’t lead to many stories.
2. I really don’t have many photos of the stuff that I mentioned for the Wednesday stuff. I may have to let that go and let you know about it as I experience it.

Good morning Big Lake
However, I guess this is how I communicate with some friends and family members so I am back- again.

The Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona has been all over the news. The fire is huge and is directly impacting some small communities and indirectly impacting many other with the vast plume of smoke. Flagstaff has not been impacted at all. If we head to a high point in town we can sometimes see the smoke plume, waaaaaaay off in the distance. It looks like a far off thunderhead.

Pip looking for canoe
One of my husband’s favorite places to camp in late summer is at Big Lake in the White Mountains. It’s at least a two hour drive to get to the campground, probably more. Even from Flagstaff, which is in the “mountains,” it feels like you are going into the mountains. The forests are still ponderosa but there are spruce and fir. Open meadows are ringed with aspen. Small lakes dot the countryside. I call it the “big sky” country- it’s big, open, green.

Misty morning Big Lake
When we go there it’s monsoon season. Every afternoon towering cumulous gather in the skies, threatening rain. The first year we were in a tent. We had arrived at the campground wondering why everyone had a tarp. After the inch of rain flooded the campground we escaped to Springerville to buy our own tarp. The next time we went there it was in our pop-up trailer, much nicer.

My husband and son go out on a canoe in the lake to fish. I walk the shores with Pip. It’s a peaceful place and very pretty.

Camping spot at Big Lake
The Wallow Fire has already engulfed Big Lake and is threatening Springerville. It’s hard to imagine, it’s a huge area. Springerville was at least a half hour drive from Big Lake and Springerville is a town. Seeing the photos of the fire we are hoping the fire burned fast, leaving many trees. I have included photos of Big Lake and our camping spot.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Flagstaff Fridays

FUTS Trail by the Rio de Flag

First of all, I just have to congratulate Flagstaff for being designated as a bronze-level Walk Friendly Community! Flagstaff is one of eleven communities nationwide to receive a Walk Friendly Community designation, so way to go! A lot of people put a ton of work into this designation including Jack, Martin, Kim, Heather and many others. Congratulations!

from Jack:

City announces a new program for those interested in the Flagstaff Urban
Trail System. Become a FUTS Steward. It's called Adopt-A-Park or a section
of the FUTS. Great opportunity for groups, organizations or just the lone
individual interested in helping create a more beautiful Flagstaff.

Tammy Bishop at: tbishop at ci dot flagstaff dot az dot us
Tom Boughner at: tboughner at flagstaff dot az dot us
Or Call: 213 3604
Shopping Carts Left Rolling Around Your Neighborhood?
Contact Michael Olson (679 8428), the man in charge of the Adult Probation Work Crew that is helping the city with this project and they will pick up the carts and returned them to the store where they belong.
Shopping Carts are just like broken windows or graffiti. ignore the problem and it only gets worse.
National Senior Fitness Day - Wednesday 25 May at the Flagstaff Aqauplex on 4th Street from 8:30 AM until 2:30 PM. For more information contact the Staff at the Thorpe Park Community and Adult Center: 774 1068
Table Tennis Play at the Adult Center Every Wednesday and Thursday evening except for the third Thursday of the month. 6:00 PM until 7:45 PM. We have three good tables in play
Karen Cooper FUTS dedication at Cheshire Park.
Friday 6 May
Start Location: Cheshire Park on Fremont Blvd
Time: 2:00 PM 2:00 PM
Ceremony will be followed by a walk along the newly dedication section with several locations where those doing the walk can turn around.
For More Information Contact Jack Welch at 714 0504

(Including the remainder of the Rio de Flag Series plus rescheduled walks)
MAY 2011

Doney Park Multi-Modal Plan Open House
Location: Summit Fire District Station 32
6425 North Cosino Road
Time: 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Opportunity for the community to comment on the multimodal transportation plan for Doney Park

FRIDAY 29 APRIL 2011 (Please note the change in the start location)
Walk Into Summer
Start Location: Police Department Parking Lot at 911 Sawmill Road (South of the New Frontiers Store on Butler
Time: 9:00 AM
About 3 total miles of walking in and around the surrounding neighborhood

Rio de Flag Walk Series
The Rio Through Baderville
Start Location: Parking area at the corner of Snowbowl Road and Highway 180
Time: 3:00 PM
About three miles of walking as we see where and why the Rio coming off the Peaks flowed south instead of north.

Audubon Bird Sanctuary Walk
Start Location: Southeast corner of Sam's Parking Lot
Time: 7:00 AM 7:00 AM
A bird walk with Jim Logan down to the Rio de Flag pond along the FUTS.
For more information contact Jim at 526 3244

Rio de Flag Walk Series
Leroux Springs
Start Location: Parking Area next to the Hot Shot Entrance - On Snow Bowl Road - About a mile from the corner of Snowbowl Road and Highway 180
Time: 3:00 PM
Lots to see on this walk! History, the old NAU Arboretum, Big and Little Leroux Spring, Spur& Ski Ranch

Walk Into Summer
Start Location: Adult Center
Time: 9:00 AM
About 3 total miles of walking in and around the surrounding neighborhood

Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting
Location: City Hall upstairs in the Staff Conference Room
Time: 4:30 PM
Discussion of local bicycle issues and the upcoming Bike To Work Week

Friends of the Rio de Flag Meeting
Location; Adult Center
Time: 6:00 PM
Spring bird migration is an exciting activity along the Rio de Flag in May. Join us for a discussion with Jim Logan as we learn about the best locations to go birding and what birds you may encounter along the Rio's riparian corridor.

Walk Into Summer
Start Location: Police Department Parking Lot - 911 Sawmill Road
Time: 9:00 AM
About 3 total miles of walking in and around the surrounding neighborhood

Karen Cooper Dedication of the FUTS
Start Location: Cheshire Park on Fremont Blvd in Cheshire
Time: 2:00 PM 2:00 PM
Dedication Ceremony to change the name of the North Rio FUTS to the Karen Cooper FUTS Walk on the newly dedicated section - From Cheshire south to City Hall with several points where those walking can return to Cheshire Park

Work Day at Logan's Crossing
Start Location: From the corner of Highway 89 and Townsend-Winona Road
Go right on Townsend-Winona Road 4.5 miles
Turn left on the dirt Road - Look for the banner advertising the event
If you get to Slayton Ranch Road you have gone to far
Parking area is on that dirt road just off the highway.
Time: 9:00 AM
For more information contact Cliff Holtz at 214 9457

Loop Trail Work Day
Segment 25 - Old Walnut Canyon Road to Campbell Mesa Trails
Look at the Flag Biking Web Site for more complete details

Audubon Society Bird Sanctuary Program
Logan's Crossing
Start Location: Meet at Southeast corner of Sam's Parking Lot
Time: 7:00 AM
For more information please call Jim Logan at 526 3244

SUNDAY 8 MAY - Added Rio de Flag Series Walk
Rio Canyon next to Warners on Butler
Start Location: Sam's Parking Lot - South End
Time: 3:00 PM
We'll all looked at this canyon from Butler. This walk will take us to the other end and into canyon from the FUTS.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Wednesdays

somewhat random- not coffee, but what if...
It’s Wednesday and I am ready to try something new. I am sure that this will change as I move along, but these are my first ideas. There are three, actually:

One of my favorite things to see are what I call “random” sightings. Usually we see these on the road, but they definitely can be spotted while walking and it can be something experienced with other senses as well. “Random” to me means- something that makes you do a double take, makes you look twice, or think about what you just experienced, something a little out of step with ordinary. And to me, it always, always, always has to be positive- it has to bring a smile to my face. Here are some examples of recent “random experiences.”

The other day my son and I were stopped at a light and we saw a motorcycle, with its rider stopped at the light heading the opposite way. We saw something different sticking up behind the rider on the motorcycle. I thought it might be a folded up umbrella and we joked about that. My son looked as we passed the motorcycle. It was a vacuum cleaner! On a motorcycle. Random.

We were in a small desert town during spring break and passed a small, compact car with a palm tree in the back seat, the palm fronds sticking out the back window. Random.

Another of my favorite things to see are what I call “I Spy” places. I don’t know if there is a copyright of that, so for here I will call them, “look and see” but in life, “I Spy.” These are walls, cars, yards, fences, you-name-it that are covered with so much stuff that you could spend a lot of time just looking at it and seeing different things… “I see a tiny goat…” I have seen a “look and see” gravesite.

Finally, I love things that make me go… hmmm, what is that? And when I find out what it is, I want to tell everyone.

So Wednesdays will be dedicated to one of these three things. I would love it if you would contribute as well, just let me know