SPACE 2020! The Universe and (our home planet) EARTH

SPACE 2020! The Universe and (our home planet) EARTH 

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“Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
Dizzy with eternity
Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea
Call it home for you and me
A peaceful place, or so it looks from space
A closer look reveals the human race
Full of hope, full of grace, is the human face
But afraid we may lay our home to waste”
– Grateful Dead “Throwing Stones”

NOTE: CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!

Meteor Showers

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January 3-4, Quadrantid meteor shower peak: A meteor shower January 1-5. The Quadrantids produce up to 40 shooting stars an hour at the peak; but in 2020, there may be up to 100 meteors an hour during the Jan. 3-4 peak. The first-quarter moon sets just after midnight, leaving dark skies for optimum viewing conditions.

April 22-23, Lyrid meteor shower peak: This meteor shower April 16-25. The Lyrids reliably produce 20 meteors an hour, sometimes with bright dust trails for several seconds. A relatively new moon will make for dark skies. Best viewing time is after midnight. The meteors radiate from the constellation Lyra but can be seen anywhere in the sky.

May 6-7, Eta Aquarid meteor shower peak: This meteor shower from April 19-May 28 produces up to 30 meteors an hour at its peak. Unfortunately, a supermoon will wash out all but the brightest meteors, though patience may be rewarded for those who seek out dark skies after midnight. The constellation Aquarius is the radiant point, but meteors are visible anywhere in the sky.

July 28-29, Delta Aquarid meteor shower peak: Produced by debris left behind by the Marsden and Kracht comets, this meteor shower produces about 20 meteors an hour July 12-Aug. 23. A second-quarter moon will wash out some of the faintest meteors. The meteors radiate from the constellation Aquarius but are visible anywhere in the sky.

August 12-13, Perseid meteor shower: If you can catch only one meteor shower in 2020, make it the Perseids, which produce up to 60 shooting stars an hour at the peak. The shower runs July 17-Aug. 24. A second-quarter moon will wash out some of the faintest meteors. The Perseids fly mainly after midnight and can be seen anywhere in the sky, though they radiate from the constellation Perseus.

October 7, Draconid meteor shower peak: The Draconids are a minor meteor shower with only about 10 shooting stars an hour; but occasionally, Draco the Dragon — the radiant point of the Draconids — breathes fire, and an outburst occurs. The shower runs October 6-10. Unlike other meteor showers, the peak viewing time is in the early evening hours. A second-quarter moon means viewing conditions should be good.

October 21-22, Orionid meteor shower peak: The Orionids run Oct 2-Nov. 7, and produce about 20 meteors an hour at the shower’s peak. Viewing is best after midnight, and a crescent moon will set before then. Produced by dust grains left behind by the comet Halley, the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Orion but can be seen anywhere in the sky.

November 4-5, Taurid meteor shower peak: The Taurids are active for longer than any other meteor shower of the year Sept 7-Dec. 10. The Taurids produceonly about five to 10 meteors an hour. What makes this shooting star show unusual is that the meteors come from separate debris streams — dust grains left behind Asteroid 2004 TG10 and debris from Comet 2P Encke. A first-quarter moon at the shower’s peak may block out all but the brightest meteors. After midnight is the best time to look for meteors, which radiate from the constellation Taurus but can be seen anywhere in the sky.

November 17-18, Leonid meteor shower peak: This average shower, produced by dust grains from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, runs Nov. 6-30 and produces about 15 meteors an hour at its peak. It’s unpredictable, though, and produces hundreds of meteors an hour during cyclonic peaks, which occur about every 33 years. That last happened in 2001, so don’t expect a cyclonic flurry this time. The best time to watch for Leonids is after midnight, and the crescent moon will already have set, leaving dark skies. The meteors radiate from the constellation Leo but are visible anywhere in the sky.

December 13-14, Geminid meteor shower peak: The only thing the Perseids have over the Geminids is that they occur in the summer when it’s comfortable to be outside. The Geminids, which run Dec. 7-17 every year, are known to produce up to 120 multicolored meteors at their peak. Produced by debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, this shower is best viewed after midnight. A nearly new moon will make for excellent viewing conditions. The meteors radiate from the constellation Gemini but are visible anywhere in the sky.

December 21-22, Ursid meteor shower: This minor meteor shower runs Dec. 17-25 and produces around five to 10 meteors at the peak. Viewing conditions are best after midnight. The first-quarter moon sets just after midnight, so dark skies will enhance meteor viewing. The meteors come from the constellation Ursa Minor but can be seen anywhere in the sky.

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Full Moons, Supermoons, Lunar Events

January 10, full moon and penumbral lunar eclipse:
Native American tribes called the first full moon of the year the “Wolf Moon”. It is also called the “Old Moon” and the “Moon After Yule”. A penumbral lunar eclipse (when the moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra) will occur on January 10 but won’t be visible in the United States.

February 9, full moon and Supermoon:
The first of four 2020 Supermoons (moons that appear to be larger and brighter when they get closest to Earth). Heavy snow fell at this time of year, so they called it either the “Snow Moon” or the “Hunger Moon” because hunting was difficult.

March 9, full moon and Supermoon:
The second of the four 2020 Supermoons. It heralds the approach of spring. Native American tribes called it the “Worm Moon” to mark the time of year earthworms began working their way out of the newly thawed ground. It’s also called the “Crow Moon”, the “Crust Moon”, the “Sap Moon, and the “Lenten Moon”.

April 8, full moon and Supermoon:
The third of the four 2020 Supermoons is called the “Pink Moon” because it’s the time of year when wild pink ground phlox reappeared. The first full moon after the spring equinox is also called the “Sprouting Grass Moon”, the “Growing Moon” and the “Egg Moon”. Some coastal Native American tribes called it the “Fish Moon” to mark the time of year when they swim upstream to spawn.

May 7, full moon and Supermoon:
The last of four consecutive Supermoons of 2020. Native American tribes called it the “Flower Moon”. It’s also called the “Corn Planting Moon” and the “Milk Moon”.

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Supermoon!

June 5, full moon:
Native American tribes called this the “Strawberry Moon” to signal the ripening of the sweet fruit. It is also called the “Rose Moon” and the “Honey Moon”.

July 5, full moon and penumbral lunar eclipse:
Native American tribes called it the “Buck Moon” because it’s when male deer begin growing antlers. It’s also called the “Thunder Moon” and the “Hay Moon”. And a penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America and South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean and western Atlantic ocean. This type of eclipse happens when the moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, called a penumbra, and the moon darkens slightly.

August 3, full moon:
Native American tribes called it the “Sturgeon Moon” because the large fish found in the Great Lakes and other major lakes were easier to catch at this time of the year. It is also called the “Green Corn Moon” and the “Grain Moon”.

September 2, full moon:
Native American tribes called it the “Corn Moon” because it signaled the time to begin corn harvests.

October 1, full moon:
This year the October full moon is also a “Harvest Moon”. It always occurs closest to the September Equinox. Native American tribes called it the “Hunter’s Moon”, because it’s the time of year when the game was fat and ready to be hunted. It is also called the “Travel Moon” and the “Blood Moon”.

October 31, full moon and a “Blue Moon”:
There’s a “Blue Moon” (the second full moon in the same month) on Halloween in 2020.

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“Blue Moon you saw me standing alone, 
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own”

November 30, full moon and penumbral lunar eclipse:
It is called the “Beaver Moon” by Native American tribes who trapped and hunted beaver before the swamps and rivers froze. It’s also called the “Frosty Moon” and the “Hunter’s Moon”. November’s full moon occurs as it passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra. During this type of eclipse the moon darkens slightly.

December 30, full moon:
Native Americans called it the “Cold Moon”. It’s also called the “Moon Before Yule” and the “Long Night’s Moon”.

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Equinoxes And Solstices

March 20, first day of Spring:
During the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator and there are nearly equal amounts of day and night.

June 22, first day of Summer:
Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when the North Pole is directly over the Tropic of Cancer.

September 22, first day of Fall:
The Autumnal Equinox occurs when the sun shines directly on the equator and there are nearly equal amounts of day and night around the world.

December 21, first day of Winter:
Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when the South Pole is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn.

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Planetary Events

February 10, Mercury at its greatest eastern elongation: The planet is 18.2 degrees from the sun, and will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. See the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.
March 24, Mercury at its greatest western elongation: Mercury will be at its highest point above the eastern horizon just before sunrise.
March 24, Venus at its greatest eastern elongation: Venus will make its closest approach to the sun, and will be at its highest point above the western horizon after sunset.
June 4, Mercury at its greatest eastern elongation: Mercury will again be close to the sun. Look for it low in the western sky just after sunset.
July 14, Jupiter at opposition: Jupiter is a giant planet, and when it makes its closest approach to the Earth, its face is fully illuminated by the sun. Jupiter is never brighter than at this time of year, making it an ideal time to view and photograph the planet and its moons. You’ll be able to see Jupiter all night, and a medium-size telescope should be powerful enough to reveal some of the details in the planet’s cloud zone. The moons should be visible through a good pair of binoculars.
July 20, Saturn at opposition: See Saturn’s ring and a few of its brightest moons with a medium-size or larger telescope when the planet makes its closest approach to Earth and it will be fully illuminated by the sun.
July 22, Mercury at its greatest western elongation: Mercury will be at its highest point above the horizon in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
August 13, Venus at its greatest western elongation: Venus will be at its highest point above the eastern sky horizon just before sunrise.
September 11, Neptune at opposition: Neptune will be fully illuminated by the sun, and will be brighter than at any other time of the year. You’ll need a powerful telescope to see it as more than a tiny blue dot. It will be visible all night.
October 1, Mercury at its greatest eastern elongation: Mercury will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.
October 13, Mars at opposition: Mars makes its closest approach to Earth, and it will be illuminated by the sun and the planet will be brighter than at any other time of the year and will be visible all night.
October 31, Uranus at opposition: Uranus will make its closest approach to Earth on Halloween, and it will be illuminated by the sun. Brighter than at any other night of the year, and will be visible all night. If you want to see it, you’ll need a powerful telescope.
November 10, Mercury at its greatest western elongation: Mercury’s last close appearance of the year. Look for it low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
December 21, rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn: These two planets appear within 7 arc minutes of each other, known as a “Great Conjunction” (last happened in 2000). They’ll be so close they will appear as one bright planet. Look to the western sky just after sunset to view it.

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“We have not inherited the earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children.” ~ Native American saying

NOTE: Ripped from patch.com and re-edited.
From Seaandsky.org, NASA.gov, Space.com and Earthsky.org

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Satellites to stars, NASA information, astronomy, the Sun and the planets!

NOTE: CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!

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The Galaxy Song by Monty Python
Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown,
And things seem hard or tough,
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft,
And you feel that you’ve had quite eno-o-o-o-o-ough,
Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at 900 miles an hour.
It’s orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
The sun that is the source of all our power.
Now the sun, and you and me, and all the stars that we can see,
Are moving at a million miles a day,
In the outer spiral arm, at 40, 000 miles an hour,
Of a galaxy we call the Milky Way.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars;
It’s a hundred thousand light-years side to side;
It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light-years thick,
But out by us it’s just three thousand light-years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light-years from Galactic Central Point,
We go ’round every two hundred million years;
And our galaxy itself is one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

apolo

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Travel Answers: San Francisco! Yosemite!

Travel Answers for San Francisco and Yosemite:

Q: What’s a great day trip from SF that’s not wine country?

A: Great Day Trip from San Francisco?

Drive south on beautiful Highway 1 to Santa Cruz. Stop along the way in Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, Davenport and/or at Ano Nuevo State Reserve and see the Elephant Seals.

Pacific Ocean from Highway 1 (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Pacific Ocean from Highway 1 (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Visit the beach and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, shop the Pacific Garden Mall, and check out the University of California, Santa Cruz (arboretum, performances, museums & special collections at the McHenry Library). Tour the campus, there are great views of Monterey Bay, art installations and walking paths/roads through the meadows, pastures and redwood forest on the hill (just stop and get a visitor pass at the main gate).

There are plentiful beaches, galleries, shops, restaurants, bars, wineries, clubs and other performance venues in Santa Cruz and in the nearby communities of Capitola, Aptos, Felton & Bonny Doon.

Check out the world famous Mystery Spot and Lighthouse Field State Beach! The Evergreen Cemetery est. ~1885 is one of the oldest in the bay area and state and it’s now a tourist attraction.

Return to San Francisco via Highways 17 (880) to San Jose and the 280 or 101 freeways back to the city sometime after sunset.


 

San Francisco from the Bay Bridge (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

San Francisco from the Bay Bridge (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Best 3-day weekend trip from San Francisco? Looking for something outdoorsy that would be a good use of weekend summer trip. Ideally somewhere warm enough for sun, swimming & shorts. Probably for a small group (either 2 or 4 ppl).

A: 3-Day Trip from San Francisco? People have already recommended Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz to the south. Marin, Napa, Vallejo, Mendocino, and Lake Tahoe to the north. So how about going east to Yosemite National Park? Yosemite, Merced, Mariposa are all within driving distance and only a few hours away. Just make sure to make a reservation! http://www.nps.gov

Half Dome - Yosemite, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Half Dome – Yosemite, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)


Q: Best airport to fly into for a week at Yosemite?

I’m planning a fall trip to Yosemite and trying to figure out which airport to fly into: Sacramento, Fresno, San Fran? I’m coming from New York so I have some airline options. I’m most concerned about which airport will have sufficient car rental options and flights at all hours.

A: If you’re flying in from NYC, you’re going to have to land in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland or Los Angeles. Each has it positives and negatives, so base your decision on the cost of airfare and then determine the best mode of transport from your destination city.

Rent a car (get unlimited mileage plus insurance) or take Amtrak (train and bus combo) from Los Angeles or San Francisco/Oakland. The bus will take you right into Yosemite National Park and drop you at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and it’s both less expensive and cleaner than driving! www.amtrak.com/san-joaquin-train

The drive from Los Angeles is about 6 hours, and you’ll travel the 5 freeway to interstate 99 through Bakersfield, Fresno and the Central Valley to interstate 41 into Yosemite.

The drive from the Bay Area is about 4 and 1/2 hours (could be longer with traffic) on highway 580 through San Leandro and Livermore to highway 205 through Manteca to interstate 120 into Yosemite.

NOTE: If you’re driving in the Sierra Mountains in the Fall, be prepared for rain and snow at higher elevations, some roads may require tire chains (sometimes a problem with a rental vehicle).

There are also tour companies that have chartered buses that will take you into the park, or backpack/bus adventure travel companies like Green Tortoise from San Francisco that include more than just transport: www.greentortoise.com/adventures/yosemite-national-park-tour-3d.php

NOTE: If you’re going to take a chartered bus, make sure the company is CA state licensed and check their safety and consumer record before buying a ticket!

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)


Q: Most impressive staircases you’ve ever seen?

I recently saw some of the craziest staircases in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Where else in the world has cool, winding, or even weird staircases? Want to plan some trips to see them..pictures would be awesome, thanks!

A: In Yosemite Valley there is a stairway to the top of Vernal Nevada Falls that was carved out of the granite rock. You can start at the bottom of Vernal Falls and climb 2000 feet to the top of Nevada Falls and the rim of the valley.

“Climb along nature’s giant staircase, where you are rewarded with close-up views of two waterfalls and numerous geologic features (depending on how far you choose to hike)…Prepare for slippery footing and a tremendous amount of waterfall spray in spring and early summer (hence the name for this trail!).”

Follow the Mist Trail 0.5 miles up a steep granite stairway of over 600 steps! Continue on to the top of Half Dome if you have a permit (and “weather permitting”).


Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Where was your favorite backpacking destination? Out of all the places in the world, where was your favorite backpacking destination and why?

A: My favorite backpacking destination: Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in northern Yosemite National Park. Picture a valley just like Yosemite except there are no other people, no cars, no shuttle buses, no buildings… just an amazing wilderness all to yourself. It’s a long day hike uphill to reach the Tiltill Valley, but it’s worth the trip!

The trailhead begins at the Hetch Hetchy parking area, and it’s a rugged uphill trek past the reservoir and into the backcountry (be sure to get your permits at the ranger station and be aware you are in “BEAR COUNTRY” – problem bears are relocated to this area of the park).

p.s. I don’t recommend backpacking solo, you should always have at least one travel buddy when you are in the backcountry!


Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite in Winter (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: How many days would I need to explore most of what Yosemite has to offer? I’m planning on going there some day and I would like to know how much days would I need to explore most of what the National Park has to offer! Thanks.

A: How many days in Yosemite National Park? It depends on how much of the park you want to explore. If you just want to see Yosemite Valley, you should allow at least three days. You should add more days if you want to really see everything! It also depends on how active a hiker you are because there are great things to do and day trips with varying degrees of difficulty you can experience. Ride the Shuttlebus and walk the valley, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, picnic at Yosemite Beach, hike to the top of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley, climb to the top of Half Dome or El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Village and the Ansel Adams Gallery and be sure to check out the The Ahwahnee Hotel.

Accommodations in the park range from tent and camp sites, RV sites, covered campsites, tent cabins, and hotel rooms. You need to make reservations for any of the concession vendors a long time in advance at nps.gov and there are lots of rules and regulations you need to be aware of before and during your visit.

REMEMBER YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY!

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

There are other areas to see within the park or just outside: Tuolumne Meadows, Mariposa Grove and the Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees, Wawona Point (and historic hotel), skiing at Yosemite’s Badger Pass in winter), Bass Lake, Oakhurst, and many others. You should allow 1-3 days or more for each area depending on how active a hiker/camper/skier/snowboarder you are.

If you want to experience the backcountry as a backpacker/camper you should plan 3-14 day trips. there are great areas in and around the park. I’ve been to the Tiltill Valley above Hetch Hetchy Loop and down the South Fork Merced River in the Sierra National Forest, both of which were excellent backpacking trips! Be sure to learn the necessary skills and the park rules and regulations before entering the wilderness.

You are also close to Lee Vining, Mammoth Mountain and Mono Lake State Preserve which are near the east entrance to the park.

See also John Muir Trail and the Yosemite Park website nps.gov for more info.


 

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: You have a day to explore Yosemite. What do you HAVE to see?

I love everything about being outdoors, especially around water. I like hiking, but I don’t get too extreme. Viewpoints that are hidden/will make me never want to leave would be loved.

A: What to see in Yosemite Valley? Everything!

Ride the Shuttlebus, walk the valley paths and bridges, raft or inner tube down the river, tour the valley in an open air tram, hike to Mirror Lake, Picnic at Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, hike to the top of any of the waterfalls or around the rim of the valley or to the top of Half Dome, climb El Capitan. Visit Yosemite Villageand see the Visitor Center and the Ansel Adams Gallery, shop at Curry Village and be sure to check out the Ahwahnee Hotel. See my other answers for more.


Wawona Hotel - Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Wawona Hotel – Yosemite (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Q: Places to stay in Yosemite? If anyone is familiar with places to stay IN the Yosemite Park… I am trying to decide between a few places… Curry Village, Yosemite at the Falls & Wawona Hotel. From what I gather there aren’t bathrooms in Wawona Hotel (not so thrilled with that idea). Any advice, please on these 3 places?

A: Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is the best place to stay, unless you can afford the Ahwahnee Hotel. It’s centrally located in Yosemite Valley near Yosemite Falls and a couple shuttle stops (almost walking distance) from Yosemite Village. The accommodations are “motel quality” but nice enough considering you won’t want to be inside very much.

Curry Village is near Half Dome, and on the shuttle route. The accommodations are mostly tent cabins with shared facilities and some full cabins with private facilities.

Both Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village have a “cafeteria” style restaurant, a “hamburger stand”, a bar/restaurant and mini-market/gift shops. Yosemite Lodge also has a nice sit-down upscale restaurant.

The Wawona Hotel sits up on the rim of the valley about a 45 minute drive from the valley floor and the village. It’s a very nice historic hotel, but not really convenient if you want to be in the valley. There are cabins with private facilities and they are very nice if you don’t mind walking outdoors to get to the main building (more of a problem in winter). Wawona is great if you want to ski at Badger Pass Ski Area, visit Glacier Point or the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia Redwoods.

There are Ranger led nature talks available and other entertainment at all three locations. Yosemite Village has a market, a Visitor’s Center with an Indian Village and interpretive programs, the Ansel Adams Gallery, the post office and more restaurants and gift shops.

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Yosemite Falls - Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Yosemite Falls – Yosemite Valley, California (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)