Natural History Notes

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

another eclipse

Wednesday, February 20, 9:45pm, sitting in the car in front of the house at Red Bird Ridge. Just glanced up to see the eclipse make a brief appearance out of the clouds and disappear again. I did already get several good photos, I think, but I’m hoping for a couple more. I got out here just a little before nine, had to feed Buddy first thing, since I’m sure he had been waiting since mid-afternoon. I took one handheld shot just at the beginning of totality, then fished a tripod I had noticed the other day out of the shop and set it up. It makes all the difference with my little camera. I can go to full zoom and then shoot a 6-second or 10-second exposure.

It’s a bit odd to feel the increasing breeze, getting much chillier while I have been here (though still not really cold, maybe 60 or a bit cooler) on my left shoulder, out of the north or a bit northwest, while watching the clouds aloft scud briskly from southwesst to northeast. At the beginning of the eclipse there were just scattered clouds, but they kept thickening up till the coverage was almost total about 9:30. It even seemed that they were down to ground level creating obscuring haze for a bit, but that may have just been the effect of loss of my dark vision after I went inside to retrieve the computer.

I was about to disassemble the tripod setup after taking a couple of time exposures of the house in the dark, when a hole drifted past and I got one more exposure of the eclipse. So then I decide to sit here in the car mostly out of the wind and write it up, in the hopes that I would get some more chances to see the end stages after totality is over. But according to the clock (9:59), that should already be beginning, and the cloud cover appears total.

10:06 — well, maybe not. A couple of holes just obligingly passed by. letting me see the reappearing bright crescent; when an actual clear area opens up, the red umbral-shadowed disc is still visible. There are more dark patches of holes in the clouds. I’ll give it another five or ten minutes and then try again.

10:27 — OK, I’ve done this eclipse. I did get some probably over-exposed images surrounded by illuminated cloud of the bright disc reappearing. Now it’s halfway out, covered by clouds more often than not, my shin is hurting, and I’m getting cold. Next time, 2010!

Friday, February 15, 2008

100% chance of rain (they SAY)

It's been very dry so far this year. Several times probable showers have been predicted, but have come to naught. However, tomorrow the weather service has said 100% chance of thunderstorms, some heavy. We'll see. There were widespread light showers today in advance af the main event, but none in Denton. Sometimes I think we have a mystical force shield. I watch the weather underground animated radar, and the rainclouds approach Denton, split around us, and go on their way. There is now, at 11:35 pm, thunder and lightning to the southeast out my window, So maybe it will happen. Maybe I should go unplug the airport. All very well that I'm typing on an un-plugged-in laptop; there are electronics plugged in still.

11:50 — rain started a few minutes ago, tapered off, came again — light so far. Thunder has quit. I think I'll gamble that the airport base won't get fried if I keep using it.

This is not rain associated with the cold front like I learned in junior high — that was I guess the rain we didn't participate in earlier today (today was in the upper thirties and cloudy all day, while yesterday was sunny and 70°F.) According to the NWS forecaster, this is the source of the rain expected tomorrow:

" Believe the main threat for the
next few hours will remain south of the County Warning Area where the boundary
resides and instability is greater. Instability over North Texas
will really begin to increase Saturday morning into the afternoon
as the upper level low approaches and the warm sector surges
north. New model data so far is still showing the warm sector
surging as far north as I-20 by middle Saturday afternoon with a
tornado threat in the far southeastern counties of North Texas. "

Well, at least we'll get enough to get wet. It rains a bit, stops a bit, rains a bit. Some lightning continues to the SE. Maybe the liverworts on the road bank at the Ridge will get enough to green up before the Neimans visit on Monday.