Wednesday, November 27, 2013

8 seconds in ethiopia

fellow astronomer and sydneysider, geoff sims, ventured to southern ethiopia for the total solar eclipse last month.  as you know, i'm a big fan of total solar eclipses, which i feel are the most amazing astronomical phenomena you can see from earth.

unfortunately, the clouds did not part over geoff during the eclipse, but he still captured some incredible footage of ethiopia and the clouds as they went through their 8 seconds of eclipsed darkness.  

8 seconds in Ethiopia from Geoff Sims on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

wild weather

i know, a post about weather?  but seriously, the greater sydney area has been providing some crazy events in recent months.

the bush fires have started well before the normal fire hazard season usually becomes worrisome.  recall the fires that swept through siding spring observatory in january (the middle of summer).   but this spring, the big fires started west of sydney!

on the day the big fires began, i could see this huge red smoke cloud moving quickly east over the city.

surreal smoke cloud over sydney

i checked the radar and those thin diagonal features are not storm clouds, they are smoke clouds being blown right over central sydney!

the thickest smoke cloud kept flowing east and this formation flew past near the edge.

the resulting sunset that night was as spectacular as it was eerie.  i have not digitally manipulated any of these photos!

pink and purple sunset through bushfire smoke clouds

a few days later, the fires were still burning in the west and we woke up every morning to air that smelled like fire smoke and a hazy sky.   the sun reflect a striking red off the waters near manly beach.

red sun through bushfire smoke
the fires raged for a couple weeks, destroying hundreds of homes along the path.   then almost two weeks ago, rains have covered the area.   over the past week and a half, the rains have fallen powerfully, causing water damage and flooding and bringing strong winds.   in fact, this week, water spouts were spotted off the new south wales coast.  water spouts, australia?!?!

Water Spouts near Port Macquarie (Photo Credit: link)
this is not normal weather, y'all.

Friday, November 15, 2013

the day the earth smiled

these images from the cassini space craft are just amazing.  many images taken in july this year were combined to create these fantastic panoramas.

the image below shows where planets and moons of saturn are located.

to understand all the details in this image, i share this video of emily lakdawalla describing all the fascinating subtleties.  very much worth the 10 minutes of your time.  enjoy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

so late so soon

every year this happens, dr seuss.  how does it seem to happen every year?!

spotted at this isnt happiness.

Monday, November 11, 2013

beauty of mathematics

mathematics is everywhere, the language of science describing the motions of everything and the reactions between things.  i find it beautiful to recognize in the world, knowing there is so much more detail underlying the simple visible surface.  some can claim it takes away the romance, but it adds to my satisfaction.   i think this video shows the beauty of mathematics nicely.


(best to watch full size though!)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

outreach officer

this week i officially start my new job with the AAO, splitting my time as a research astronomer and head of our new outreach office!

i'm very excited to begin this new position and to have a new office!

although i'm sad to lose my official title as a super science fellow :(   in honor of my time as a super, here are some interesting modifications of classic art pieces to include superheroes!

and from an entertaining, but slightly sad series of oil paintings about an aging superhero, by andreas englund:

but seriously, once super, always super.   i'm keeping the cape!  

and i'm really thrilled about the new office!   it has a big window with views of trees and sky and birds and weather!  it has been too long since i've had a nice view of the outside world from my indoor office.

ps. i've been sharing photos on here recently that i've previously posted on instagram.

Monday, November 4, 2013

this new beginning has spiders

i recently moved to a new flat in a different neighborhood in sydney.   so far, i love it!  the neighborhood is called chippendale and the locals call it "chippo."

art on my street!
i also bought a bike so i've been riding around, exploring all the interesting parts of this section of town.

its springtime and the jacarandas are blooming.
my new place has a back patio and garden area which really has me excited.   i've always maintained indoor gardens and this is the first time i've had an outdoor space that i can cultivate.  i bought a new native plant to celebrate the fresh start.

cant remember its name, but i love my new plant!
it's difficult maintaining delicate plants with my consistent travel schedule and lack of dedicated watering assistant, but this time i'm committed to making it work!   i want to grow fresh tomatoes and herbs and dark leafy greens in my living space!

so last weekend i spent a lot of time cleaning up the garden and repotting old plants.  this is garden version0.2.

so much potential in my new outdoor space.
one plant i repotted is the jade hanging up on the fence in the photo above.  as i struggled to remove the jade and clean it up before adding fresh soil, a large brown spider walked across the stones in front of me.  i yelped a little when i saw it (i'll be honest) and sprang backwards for a moment to let it disappear.

i got back to work on the plant and then the spider walked back across the path in the other direction.   persistent not-so-little guy.  i shuddered again and waited for it to disappear from my view.  i managed to finish the job of repotting the plant.

then, i watched the spider immediately crawl back up into the jade plant and "hide" under a leaf for a few minutes.

"hell no, i wont go!" yelled the spider.
finally, it curled up around a stem, and stayed in that position, hugging the plant home that it finally had back, for the next three hours!

"home sweet home"
it was so cute (once i got over the "holy crap that's a pretty big spider that wont go away" jitters)!

i looked it up and its a non-aggressive orb-weaving spider.  i like my new garden friend.

WARNING: the website i found about common australian spiders is probably the most evil website i have ever found in all of cyberspace.  check it out, if you dare!

ps.  i forgot to take a photo of garden version 0.3.  i'll leve you in anticipation of v1.0!

Friday, November 1, 2013


"everything that is not made by nature is designed by someone."  - chip kidd

design by chip kidd

i found this image from an interesting article on graphic design chipp kidd on brain pickings.