360 degree view of the Milky Way

Spitzer 360

NASA”s Spitzer Telescope captures a geocentric 360 degree view of the Milky Way

For images and details of this amazing feat, follow the links, below . . .


More Images and Details:

Enjoy !


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Kepler Exoplanets

[[ Image, above, is from Google images.  ]]

In the first two months of 2014 NASA’s Kepler telescope has discovered and verified more exoplanets than previously known.  Many of these newly found planets might be capable of supporting life as we know it.

For numerous links to more exoplanet data than you ever wanted to know, please visit NASA’s “All About Kepler” web page . . .


Browse, learn, and enjoy !

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Terminology and Definitions

Dictionary png


For reasons not altogether clear to me, some folks seem to think “evolution” is a dirty  word that is so evil that they forbid their children to utter it.

The first definition of evolution I find listed in my dog-eared Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition, is: “one of a set of prescribed movements”. This, it seems to me, is not worth getting excited about.

Next comes: “a process of change in a certain direction”. Again, nothing very controversial here.

Then, I find: “the action or an instance of forming and giving something off: EMISSION”. This doesn’t seem to be worth fussing about.

Forging ahead I see: “a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state: GROWTH”

Most people, fundamentalists included, are probably pro growth, as in the evolution of mathematics, or the evolution of computer programming techniques, so that is probably not the root of the problem.

So far, so good. The definitions seem to be getting more interesting as we go along, or, dare I say, the definitions are EVOLVING into something more interesting as we go along.

Let us continue, even though I realize reading the dictionary is not everybody’s cup of tea.

Next on the list is: “a process of gradual and relatively peaceful social, political, and economic advance”. Sounds like an positive development to me.

I find next: “the process of working out or developing”.

Once again, nothing to get excited about.

So far, it appears that evolution has two primary characteristics, neither of which should be cause for alarm: CHANGE and/or DEVELOPMENT.

Now, comes the alarming (to some) definitions – - -

“the historical development of a biological group (as a race or species): PHYLOGENY”.

This may be discomforting to some.

It seems to me that those who get upset about this sort of thing should be getting upset about “phylogeny”, not “evolution” because a definition of phylogeny is: “the evolutionary history of a kind of organism”, which, as I understand it, is what all the fuss is about.

If one chooses to demonize a word for reasons, real or imagined, one should, at least, CHOOSE THE CORRECT WORD.

Another definition of “evolution” that has to do with biology is: “a theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origins in other preexisting types and that the distinguishing differences are due to modifications in successive generations”.

Ah Ha ! This must be the root of the problem ??????????

BUT, why should this upset anyone? It is obvious to the most casual observer that we have developed, using artificial (as opposed to natural) selection to create
the beef cattle from which hamburgers and steaks are derived.

So, it’s OK to artificially induce evolution, but not OK for Mom (mother nature, that is) to do it ??!!

Piphelpoop, I say!

Religious Fundamentalists – - Get over it and go pick on phylogeny and leave evolution alone.



And, while you’re at it, stay away from piphelpoop – it’s my favorite pet word.

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Rosetta is Awake


Europe’s comet chaser spacecraft, Rosetta, has been awakened from a 31 month hibernation after arcing beyond the orbit of Jupiter on it’s way to Comet 67P.

Rosetta will arrive at the comet later this year and deploy a lander to the comet’s surface to gather data for detailed study of the comet.

For more information about this amazing mission, see a report from BBC:



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Moon Shadows on Neptune


Moon Shadows on Neptune small

The image, above, is a composite of 4 images recorded by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft as it flew by Neptune on it’s way out of the solar system about twenty years ago.

The information quoted, below, is taken from the APOD for 16 January 2014.

[[ "Explanation: Despina is a tiny moon of Neptune. A mere 148 kilometers across, diminutive Despina was discovered in 1989, in images from the Voyager 2 spacecraft taken during its encounter with the solar system's most distant gas giant planet. But looking through the Voyager 2 data 20 years later, amateur image processor and philosophy professor Ted Stryk discovered something no one had recognized before -- images that show the shadow of Despina in transit across Neptune's blue cloud tops. His composite view of Despina and its shadow is composed of four archival frames taken on August 24, 1989, separated by nine minutes. Despina itself has been artificially brightened to make it easier to see. In ancient Greek mythology, Despina is a daughter of Poseidon, the Roman god Neptune. ]]

The image is reminiscent of Moon Shadows on Jupiter that I posted a few months ago except that today’s post shows a composite of 4 images of the single moon, Despina, and the shadow she casts on Neptune rather than a single image showing multiple moons and the shadows they cast on Jupiter.

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Winter Harvest

Winter Harvest 2013 png

The yield from our persimmon tree this year has been the best ever. The photo, above, shows the last of 4 “pickings” this year. There are a dozen or so more persimmons in the very top of the tree, and we leave then for the birds to enjoy.

Here is a close-up of a couple of the larger persimmons .

Quarter for Size png

The quarter is there to show scale.

The tree has one last offering for this year – -

Color Nov 2013 png
- – adding a bit of color to the front garden as the leaves prepare to drop.


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The Palimpsest Path

04 January 2014

The bike trail that I use for many of my morning walks is paved with asphalt, and sits atop an old railroad right of way that runs from near the beach all the way to Ojai, almost 30 miles to the north.

Family Bikers png

The surface beside the paved bike path sometimes resembles beach sand. These areas record layer upon layer of footprints going in both directions along the path.

Palimpsest Path png

These footprints will be swept away by wind and rain periodically, then be replaced later by those who pass this way.

Sands of time png

Such is the fate of the footprints we make in the sands of time during our brief journey from null to void.


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