Global Warming

A few of my Seattle friends are complaining that Global Warming is a lie because it’s unseasonably cool in Seattle this month.

Well, I’m happy to report that I found the missing global warming: it’s here, on the east coast.  My rental car reported 108F when I was driving back to Dulles a bit ago.

Back to waiting on my flight!

What a great weekend

(I’m including Thursday night as the official start of my weekend, since I took Friday off)

Thursday night: telescope until 4:30am
Friday: Slept till 11:30am.  Caught up on e-mail, played some Grand Theft Auto IV.
Saturday: Seattle Cheese Festival, followed by an acquisition of scallops and spot prawns at the Pike Place Fish Market in Pike Place.  Grilled prawns on the Big Green Egg.
Sunday: Planed some more Grand Theft Auto IV.  Grilled tri-tip steaks on the Big Green Egg.

Beautiful weather every day.  Sadly, this week’s forecast is not so great:

weather forecast

The weather is warming and the clouds are vanishing

Seattle in the summertime, oh how I love it.  Today, the temperature breached the 80°F mark, and there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky.  A sign of things to come.

M31, M32, and M110 As has become common practice for me now, anytime there hasn’t been clouds, I’ve been out at night with the telescope and last night was no exception.  I decided to take Friday morning off from work, so I could stay out late on Thursday.  I headed out to Rattlesnake Lake and set up my telescope around 9pm, and arrived back home at 4am.  The moon was nearly full last night, which put a damper on finding a lot of things – faint fuzzies are hard to spot in moon glow.  I did manage to knock a good deal of objects off my Messier list, and was shown some phenomenal views in Barry’s brand-new 11” Celestron.  Consider me jealous of telescopes with goto capabilities: I’m tired of manual setting circles. :)  I’m also exceptionally jealous of his 41mm Tele Vue Panoptic.

A few awesome things from last night, before I get into the technical nitty-gritty of my viewing.  The moon set at about 3am.  Simultaneously, we noticed three things: coyotes starting howling, the milky way suddenly showed up overhead, and Jupiter came up from over the hill and tree line.  Awesome stuff.

Last night’s viewing was primarily spent hunting open clusters and globulars, as they were the most visible.  I did manage a few nebulas and galaxies, too:

Not a bad night of viewing: 19 Messier objects I hadn’t seen before.  I was particularly impressed that I was able to star-hop to M63 and M64, as they were buried in moon glow by the time I got to them.  M64, in particular, was tough: I could just barely make out a slightly brighter spot in the moon glow than the surroundings.  I’ll definitely need to go back to it on a darker night.

The atmospheric conditions weren’t all that great, and this was obvious when Jupiter came up.  If I slightly defocused the telescope, I could see major air currents over Jupiter; even when in focus, I couldn’t make out any of the cloud bands.  I can’t wait to get better views of it later in the year when it’s higher in the sky.

I’m now up to 54 Messier objects viewed, with 56 to go until completion of all Messier objects.  Only 16 more until I’ve completed basic work required for the Astronomical League’s Messier Club.  A good portion of the 56 remaining are winter-only items, and I hope to wrap up the rest of the summertime items at various star parties this year.

I’ve got my process for stargazing pretty well locked down now.  I create a list of the Messiers (or whatever I want to look at that night) in AstroPlanner, and print out the list.  I also take with me a list of alignment star coordinates (so I can set my manual setting circles), and a pencil.  As I’m running through the printed list, I check off things I find and make any relevant notes or quick sketches.  I’d like to supplant this with a digital audio recorder at some point so I can talk through observations rather than writing them down – it would be nice to be able to document things without leaving the eyepiece.  The next day, I log my observations in AstroPlanner, and write up a blog post with lots of Wikipedia links.  I’ll also often compare what I saw to imagery in the WorldWide Telescope to make sure I saw what I think I saw.  I’ll probably put together a post in the near future about what all I bring onsite to aid others that are learning this stuff, as I am.

[edit May 19 – fixed a bunch of grammatical errors.  I must have been tired when writing this!]

Crazy weather, and the answer to what was for dinner

Let me start by saying I can’t believe it’s snowing.  In Seattle.  In April.  It was 80° and sunny last Saturday.  I guess that was summer, and we’ve already moved into next winter. Grr.

A few days ago I posted a picture of what we had just cooked for dinner, and a few of you have asked (via comments and e-mail) what we cooked.  I’m here to answer your question:  Sake Steamed Salmon with Shiitake-Leek Noodles.  Good stuff: lots of sake, lemon grass, leeks, star anise, and many other things.  It’s from the April 2008 edition of Cuisine at Home magazine, and they’ve unfortunately not made this recipe available with their on-line listing of recipes.

But, those of you that are interested know how to get in touch with me. :)  Heather, I don’t imagine you can find local salmon at your farmer’s market, though.

Weatherproof Solar Powered Lights?

As I’m watching Discovery HD Theater tonight, one of those “As Seen on TV” type commercials comes up for solar-powered spotlights for your yard.

They advertise them as totally weatherproof, but I disagree – they won’t work if it’s always cloudy, raining all the time, duststorm, tornado picks ’em up. They’re pretty damned reliant on the sun, yes?

Mt. Rainier – Mount Fremont Lookout

Hiked On: July 28, 2007′
Weather Conditions: Approximately 65°F-75°F, mostly sunny skies
Elevation: 6400-7181′
Distance from Seattle: Just over 90 miles
Pictures: [Here](
National Park Service: Mt. Rainier National Park

Well, after a long hiatus from hiking in general, and Mt. Rainier specifically, Diann and I made the 2 hour drive to Sunrise for a hike. We hadn’t been to Rainier in a long time because of the devastation that was caused there during [November 2006](

Saturday we had beautiful weather, so we headed up to the Sunrise visitor center and struck out. Last year, we hit the [Dege Peak]( hike, which heads to the right from Sunrise – this year, we did Mount Fremont, which heads … Left.

Great hike, a little over a mile to Frozen Lake, which is the domestic drinking water supply for the Sunrise visitor center. A right turn from there brought us up another 500′ of elevation and 1.3 miles of trail up to the Mount Fremont lookout. Amazing talus slopes, great views to the north, and not many people on the trail. The lookout itself was heavily damaged in a recent windstorm, and there’s two NPS fellows up there rebuilding it. They camp out there at night, and build during the day. We did see a few extension cords, so presumably there’s some power available up there — or they had a generator. Either way, talk about a workshop with a view.

On the way back down, we debated heading up to the Burroughs Ridge trail, but our rumbling stomaches made us go back to the car and our sandwiches. Note to selves: bring sandwiches with us next time.

Total distance hiked: 5.8 miles (3 hours, 20 minutes), total elevation gain: 800', total accumulated elevation: unknown (altimeter watch battery dead).

Snow Days

So, the past two days have brought us more snow and ice in the Seattle area. I present to you my nominations of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”:

The Good: Can’t get out of the neighborhood, so we work from home.
The Bad: Can’t get out of the neighborhood, so we get cabin fever.
The Ugly: Can’t get into the neighborhood, so the garbage company can’t pick up our trash.

A new record: 2 hour commute

So that was less than stellar. Another snow-storm hit the Seattle area this afternoon, and the drive home took just shy of 2 hours. Quite amazing, considering I live around 8 miles away from my office.

I wish I had taken some photos with my cameraphone — but I was too busy not getting rammed by some random guy in a BMW 5-series that kept sliding sideways. The mail isn’t getting through either – saw two USPS semi-trucks parked on the highway (one on the shoulder of the road, one in the middle of the road). Mass transit wasn’t doing well either — saw several buses parked on the side of the road, and at least one nearly perpendicular to the flow of traffic resting against the jersey barrier. Very odd, as on the drive in this morning, I saw several buses with snow chains on already… None of the parked buses had snow chains on.

The drive home was truly amazing — WSDOT (Washington State Dept. of Transportation) shuts off the “metered” on-ramps to prevent cars from sliding down, so that starts hurting the commute. Combine that with the aforementioned sideways buses, parked semis, and guys-in-sliding-5-series, and traffic quality dwindles. Quickly.

Tomorrow, as the snow sitting on the ground turns into ice, should prove fun and interesting as well.

It’s Official: Temperature Sensitivity is Back!

After being in Seattle for the past two years, I've now come to realize I'm officially not used to hot temperatures anymore. Yesterday got up to 85°F, and today hit 90°F — and I've been whining about it the entire time.

Pretty bizarre considering I lived in southeast Texas for 20+ years.

the sweet smell of… dumpsters?

There's really nothing better than the weather has been the last few days. Mid-70's, not a cloud in the sky, a little breeze. So, everyone wanders around campus a little slower than usual because everyone wants to enjoy the wonderful weather.

So, like everyone else, I'm walking across campus. There's nothing like walking behind someone that's wearing perfume that smells nice… It adds to the day. Then, fate intervenes. The wind changes a little bit, and right as you're inhaling some good smelling perfume, it changes to the odor of a dumpster. Argh.