Bob

Lunar Occultation of Mars

Verna and I witnessed the occultation of Planet Mars by Earth’s Moon this evening. At about 7:32 PM Arizona Time, Mars could be seen to disappear behind the Moon and would emerge again about an hour later on the opposite side of the Moon. In the image above (courtesy Griffith Observatory) you can see the tiny Martian dot just below and to the left of the Lunar limb. This is just about the same as we saw it around 7:30PM tonight. We came back outside at 8:30PM and witnessed the re-appearance of the Martian dot on the upper right Lunar limb – very impressive (and nerdy). We both enjoyed it and commented that it was a fun thing to do. We also had witnessed a visible flyover of the International Space Station about fifteen minutes prior to the beginning of the occultation.

From In The Sky — About this occultation:

The Moon will pass in front of Mars, creating a lunar occultation visible from parts of the Americas, Europe and Northern Africa.

Lunar occultations are only ever visible from a small fraction of the Earth’s surface. Since the Moon is much closer to the Earth than other celestial objects, its exact position in the sky differs depending on your exact location on Earth due to its large parallax. The position of the Moon as seen from two points on opposite sides of the Earth varies by up to two degrees, or four times the diameter of the full moon.

This means that if the Moon is aligned to pass in front of a particular object for an observer on one side of the Earth, it will appear up to two degrees away from that object on the other side of the Earth.

At the time of the occultation, the Moon will be 15 days past new moon and will be 100% illuminated.

Coyote Sightings

Above — Coyote image taken in April 2020 just northwest of our house. Click on the image to enlarge.

About a week ago when taking the dogs out for their morning walk, I observed a coyote walking across the neighbor’s driveway, about 50 to 70 yards west of our property line. The coyote didn’t seem to notice us at the time and the dogs didn’t notice the coyote. I mentally wrote the sighting off as a random indigenous desert animal just passing through the area. No harm, no foul. The dogs did their business and we went back inside the house.

Then, a couple of days later, I saw what appeared to be the same coyote walking across the same driveway at roughly the same spot at the same time as before. That made me think that the coyote might possibly have taken up the desert area west of here as it’s territory.

Even though there are houses in the area, much of the original natural desert remains which still provides habitat to the critters here including cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, Gambel’s quail, antelope ground squirrels, roadrunners, javelina, mule deer and a myriad of other wildlife. The desert also has it’s predators such as hawks, rattlesnakes and coyotes. We have heard about, but have not yet seen, instances of bears and cougars around town.

So, this morning while walking the dogs, we saw the coyote to the west as before, only this time, we noticed each other. It stood and stared at me, still 50 yards away, and I watched it as I removed the dogs to the east in the opposite direction. The dogs still did not notice the coyote. We went back in the house after the morning business without any further wildlife encounters.

Later in the day today, we saw the coyote again hanging around the same area as before. It is still noticing us, but does not seem to be interested in approaching us. We will make updates to this post if anything further develops.

UPDATE — 12/05/2022: Apparently, the individual coyote has moved on since it has not been seen in a week’s time. It could still be out there, but we have not seen it since posting this item.

Thanksgiving Day 2022

The Holiday Season is upon us again and we are rapidly getting in the mood to celebrate with all the accompanying festivities. The first order of our holiday festiveness is to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with all the appropriate feasting and borderline gluttony. We are currently preparing the Smoked Breast of Turkey entrée and several side dishes for today’s dinner.

We are thankful on this day for our feast and for the hands that prepared it. We are thankful for those who serve and are on duty on this day. We are thankful for our neighbors, our family and our friends. We are thankful for those who read these words. May the Lord bless and keep them all in His grace.

So, if you’re celebrating and feasting, enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!

UPDATE: Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner comprised of Smoked Turkey Breast, Dressing, Mashed Fauxtatoes, Gravy, Green Beans and Baked Squash. Ice Cream over a Pumpkin Muffin for Dessert.

Grand Canyon Weekend Gridlock

Yavapai Point Webcam — South Rim, GCNP

There is no doubt that vistas like the one above are scenic wonders that beckon most people to come see for themselves in person. That attraction to tourists, however, often results in traffic lineups as depicted below. Both images were saved from the web on Saturday 11/19/2022 at about ten AM AZ time. Click to enlarge.

GCNP South Entrance Station Webcam

We regularly visit the website of the Yavapai Point Webcam when we look at our weather report and forecast each day. That also prompts us to look at the South Entrance Webcam that shows the lineup of vehicles waiting to pay the fee (or show their pass) for admission to the park. We see that these two images were taken when there were a lot of folks headed into the park on a weekend. In contrast, we have seen the South Entrance stations at off hours when there are NO vehicles visible.

We checked the webcams again today and note that there are a lot of cars and campers waiting; this being the Thanksgiving holiday week, that is understandable. Last Monday, the queue to get in was very light.

Verna and I have been to the Canyon many times, and these days, as beautiful and spectacular as it is, we do not wish to compete with the millions of park visitors flocking there. So, we’re content with viewing from a distance courtesy of the NPS Webcams.

Desiccated Cholla Remnants in 3D

A large portion of the lot here in the High Sonoran Desert is still natural desert vegetation which we chose to leave as it was before we built the house here. Some of the natural fauna will eventually wither and die as was the case for the remnants of a Buckhorn Cholla Cactus depicted in the anaglyphic photo above. I photographed a pair of images in January of 2021 to finally combine into this interesting 3D image. Click on the image to enlarge.

If you don’t happen to have a pair of red/cyan 3D glasses handy, you can view the 2D image here, although you will miss the perspective of the desiccated wood twisting and turning up out of the page.

Accidental Stereoscopic Photos

We were cruising through a parking lot after dropping off some mail when Verna snapped a pair of photos of a couple of saguaro cacti with some mesquite trees and a strip mall across the highway in the background. I recognized that there was a possible 3D image in those so I combined them into the anaglyph above (click to enlarge). If you don’t have a pair of red/cyan 3D glasses, you can see the 2D version here.

There have been a number of times when Verna managed to get a 3D image unintentionally, usually by clicking a pair of images while the truck is in motion. The image above is an example of that. There are more such images we logged in our 3D Stuff category:

Click on items above to open in a new tab or window.