Sunday, August 25, 2013

Desert Deluge

We had a rainstorm of near-Biblical proportions this afternoon.

The skies opened up and dumped 2 inches of rain in our area, in just over an hour.

The water level in our pool came up over 3/4" in a half hour, during the heaviest part of the deluge.

Our front landscaping includes a constructed wash, to quickly move water out of our enclosed courtyard. Normally the wash is just a decorative feature, but this afternoon it worked like a charm.

One of the neat things about rain in the desert, is how vibrant everything looks after a rainstorm.

Probably just due to the desert dust being washed off of everything.

Our Red Barrel Cactus looked especially colorful after its bath.

The rain eventually tapered off to a gentle sprinkle before finally moving off to the northeast. We were left with a gorgeous sunset.

There is a possibility of more rain tomorrow...

"Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face.
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin', singin' in the rain."
~ Singing in the Rain, lyrics by Arthur Freed

Sail On, Sailor

Went out to clean our swimming pool after a BIG dusty overnight windstorm, and found this little guy adrift and clinging to an inflatable raft in the middle of the pool.

Not sure if he was blown into the pool, and managed to crawl up onto the raft?

Doesn't seem like he would be there by choice...

I carefully maneuvered the raft over to the edge of the pool, so I could move him to a safer location.

As I put my hands out to pick him up, he looked right at me, reared up on his back legs and pulled his front legs tight against his upper body.

If I were 2 inches tall, that would have been pretty intimidating...

He eventually calmed down and stepped into my hand, so I could relocate him to our nearby flower garden.

He'll be a lot happier there.

"I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean
Through restful waters and deep commotion
Often frightened, unenlightened
Sail on, sail on sailor."

Lyrics from "Sail On, Sailor", written by Brian Wilson, Ray Kennedy, Tandyn Almer, Jack Rieley and Van Dyke Parks. From the Beach Boys album "Holland" (1973)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The "Other" Blue Moon

Tonight's full moon is a "Blue Moon".
Spoiler alert: it's not really blue.

Blue Moon on 20 August 2013.

Most of us are familiar with the definition of a Blue Moon as being a second full moon that occurs during the course of a calendar month. Since the moon's phase cycle is 29.5 days, it's easy to see this doesn't happen very often - hence the saying "Once in a Blue Moon". But there are actually 2 kinds of Blue Moon, and tonight's full moon is the second kind.

It's only August 20th, so this can't be the second full moon in August.
Here's what's going on...

Occasionally there are 13 full moons in a year. This means that one of the seasons (spring, summer, autumn, or winter) will have 4 full moons instead of 3. The full moon tonight is the 3rd of 4 full moons this summer. Since the 3 regular full moons have names (in this case: early-summer, mid-summer and late-summer) the odd 4th moon is called "Blue Moon" It is thought that the name Blue comes from the word belewe which means "betrayer".

Photographers note: I took this pic of the moon by holding our point-and-shoot camera up to the eyepiece of our 25 power field scope. We were really surprised at the detail it picked up on the lunar surface. The rays of the crater Tycho show up amazingly well (lower center). The crater Copernicus is evident too (left of center at about 9:00), as well as the crater Kepler towards the left edge at about 3:30.

For a more thorough explanation of the two types of Blue Moon:

"Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone,
  Without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own..."
~ written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Another Smoky Sunset

Smoke from the Silver Fire, near Banning.
(The UFO-looking shape is an artifact from the camera lens.)

For an interactive map and current information about US and international wildfires: