It is possible that this is the most important Earth Day. Earth Day is part of the process of broadening environmental awareness and causing positive change in how we treat our planet. We are at a juncture where we must make major changes in what we do or our Grandchildren, to the extent that they can take time away from the daunting task of survival in a post-Civilization world, will curse us. I wrote a massive multpart blog post about Earth Day a four years ago, and here I'm giving you a slightly modified version of it, covering just a few aspects of the thing, and telling a couple of personal stories. There are politics, explosions, and folk singers. So put on your Love Beads and your Tie-Dyed MuuMuu and enjoy. Or not enjoy. This is not really for your enjoyment. The First Earth Day The First Earth Day. More Black and White than Green. The first Earth Day was a red letter day in the long, hard struggle to make being good to the environment … to the Earth … … [Read more...] about The Most Important Earth Day
"April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain." -T. S. Eliot Of course you all know the refrain, "April showers bring May flowers," but there's one April shower that brings fireballs instead: the Lyrids! Image credit: John Chumack, retrieved from Bob King. Like all meteor showers, the Lyrids come from a comet's dust trail that forms a great ellipse with respect to our Solar System. Once per year, the Earth, in its orbit around the Sun, passes through this dusty debris. When this happens, the Earth, moving at over 10,000 miles-per-hour with respect to these dust grains, cause the dust to vaporize in a fiery plunge as they collide with our atmosphere. Image credit: Gehrz et al. 2006, retrieved from Michael Kelley. Every year, right around April 22nd, this meteor shower peaks, delivering anywhere from 10 to 100 meteors per hour visible beneath dark skies. "Why is there so much variability," you ask? … [Read more...] about Welcome Earth Day with the Greatest April Shower of All: The Lyrids!
Seriously, if there's a day to enjoy the outdoors, then that would have to be Earth Day. If, however, you find yourself stuck inside due to poor weather, volcanic ash plumes, or some other reason, then go check out the Phylo game (http://phylogame.org). It's been up for about a week and a bit, and is already gaining some steady traffic (it's creeping up on google and giving the Greek pastry a run for its money!). Normally, we only put up one new card per weekend, but because it's a special day, we're putting up 6 new cards, and with a variety of different art styles to boot. As if that wasn't enough, check out this picture: THAT'S RIGHT! We have some working rules to play around with! Go check them out here, and enjoy your Earth Day! … [Read more...] about Happy Earth Day! Now go outside, and if the weather is crummy, why not play PHYLO?
There are many ways to celebrate Earth Day, from sustainability efforts (and check out our new blog, Guilty Planet) to simply appreciating nature. And while this is a beautiful shot of Forest Park right here in Portland, it doesn't compare -- in my eyes -- to the perfection of Earth as seen from so far away. In October of 1946, a V-2 missile was launched from New Mexico, straight up into the air. And at its maximum height of 65 miles (just barely into what was then considered outer space), it snapped the first photographs of the Earth from Space. (And you can click every image on this page to enlarge it.) It wasn't until Apollo 8, 22 years later, that the first color photograph of Earth was taken. The sole idea of Apollo 8 was to orbit and take photographs of the Moon, but when William Anders saw Earth rising over the Moon, he snapped the most famous photo of the mission, known simply as "Earthrise." And now, in the 21st Century, we've got a myriad of satellites, shuttles, spacecraft … [Read more...] about Earth Day from Space
As you may have noticed from yesterday's unusual post, today is Earth Day! I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite pictures from space of it, including the famous photograph from Apollo 8 known as Earthrise: This combination shot made from NASA’s Terra satellite and NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite: The known satellites at least 0.1 meters in size in orbit around Earth (there are ~11,000 of them as of April 2005, and another 100,000 between 1 cm and 10 cm in size): Looking at the Earth and the docked Space Shuttle from the International Space Station: And the emergence of night over Europe and Africa (yes, the night lights are enhanced): This is our home. I'll be back with more of the standard stuff you love about the Universe tomorrow, but for today, remember that in the vastness of space, in the depths of our galaxy, this little wet rock is where we came to be. And it's our responsibility to take care of it, just as it takes care of us. … [Read more...] about Happy Earth Day in Pictures!