I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

This might be the Before image for a full supernova.

Or it may not. Eta Carinae is about 100 times more massive than our sun, which means it will probably die spectacularly at some point -- maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe a million years from now. Those four bright streaks that appear to come from the center of the star are diffraction spikes from the telescope; those two weird lobes surrounding the star are a nebula, the result of a massive eruption almost two hundred years ago that temporarily made Eta Carinae the second brightest star in the Earth sky.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Processing and License: Judy Schmidt

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

Crow is crow, you say.
What else is there to say?
Drive down any road,

take a train or an airplane
across the world, leave
your old life behind,

die and be born again--
wherever you arrive
they'll be there first,

glossy and rowdy
and indistinguishable.
The deep muscle of the world.

                                -- Mary Oliver

This particular crow was in Albany, but they're everywhere in the East Bay. Crow and raven populations have exploded in the Bay Area in the past few decades -- there's plenty of food and no one shoots them.

I was mostly oblivious to birds when I lived there, but even I couldn't ignore a crow, and I know I never saw a raven. Now there are dozens of crows in every park and the occasional solitary raven, and empty crow's nests in most of the bare trees lining the streets of Pleasanton, waiting to hatch the next generation.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Saturday reflections

Ninth Avenue during Wednesday's snow.

If I can't have those spectacular coastlines and old-growth trees every day, what I do have is always worth photographing: the jumble of endless motion that is New York.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Urban poetry

A house in Albany, seen across the back garden at night.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Home again

Today's snowfall.

I was supposed to see a TV show taping this evening, but when the accumulation on my fire escape reached three inches I canceled and rescheduled for next month. Not having to be anywhere in particular is one perogative of being retired I really enjoy.

Coast after the rains

Pacific coasts

The runoff from the recent heavy rains has carved new channels in these beaches near Half Moon Bay, rivers and streams running parallel to the waves before finally finding a way to join the ocean.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

My battery is low this morning as I attempt to readjust to Eastern Standard Time, so I feel a real kinship with the late lamented Opportunity Rover.

Opportunity took this picture of its own shadow stretching into the Endurance Crater in 2004, shortly after the beginning of its amazing odyssey.

Image Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, JPL, NASA

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

A beautiful California scrub jay in Albany.

I'm heading home tomorrow, after three much-needed weeks in the company of very good friends. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A few more puddles

Saturday reflections

There have not been many reflections apart from rain puddles where I've been in the Bay Area the past few weeks; fortunately the puddles have been abundant.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Plus there were views


A few of the many beautiful trees in the park. The steady drip drip drip of melting snow from the leaves made it feel a little like spring.

Snow day

Sunday we drove to Mount Diablo to see the snow that had fallen during Saturday night's storm -- and yes, I mostly restrained myself from making snide comments about “real” snow, because it was a beautiful day, if cold enough to make even my jaded New York teeth chatter, and the dusting of snow was a lovely garnish.

Here are some cows outside the park. That figure on the right that appears to be some kind of pied piper leading them into bovine mischief is actually a tree that's lost its crown and most of its branches.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

I'm in the mood for a planet this week.

The Juno probe captured this image of Jupiter in December, showing the Great Red Spot and a large storm system with the rather unimaginative name of Oval BA.

The storms we've been experiencing in the California BA haven't been that dramatic, but I've had ample opportunity to regret leaving my down coat behind in New York because I assumed that it would be much warmer out here than it has been.

Image credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Sean Doran

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

A Western bluebird in Pleasanton.

I had never noticed a bluebird in the Bay Area, and was surprised to see them pop up on my Birds Near Me phone app when I was trying to identify a woodpecker I'd seen. So I went out the next day and looked closely at all the little songbirds up in the trees and sure enough, one of them had a bright red breast. I chased him across three different trees to get this picture.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Saturday reflections

I haven't been seeing many reflections these past two weeks; it's been a pastoral of sea and sky and trees and neat suburban houses.

But it has been raining a lot, so here's a puddle, reflecting some, but unfortunately not all, of a tree on one of the pretty paths in the Albany Bulb, a parkland along San Francisco Bay.

Friday, February 8, 2019

More visions by the Bay

More examples of the beautiful light at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley.

We had set off for a lunch in Sonoma, only to find ourselves sitting in an immobile sea of cars -- the Richmond bridge was closed in both directions due to falling concrete. But an afternoon stroll along the Berkeley Marina was more than consolation. It's a beautiful view and the light was exquisite.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Sublime light

Amazing light today at Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, looking across the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Astronomy Tuesday

I know I had a picture of galaxies last week, but I could not resist the sheer joy of this image, as if the universe were throwing the best New Year's Eve party ever.

The Hubble image shows a random patch of sky, containing thousands of galaxies. The curves and squiggles are nearby asteroids photobombing the deep space image, like astronomical confetti.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and B. Sunnquist and J. Mack (STScI)
Acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz (STScI) and the HFF Team

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sunday bird blogging

Here's one for my friend Nik: a black phoebe in Ken Mercer park in Pleasanton, sitting placidly on a fence, and then taking off. These pictures aren't black and white, by the way, just a monochrome bird with a mostly monochrome background.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Saturday reflections

These beautiful patterns are actually reflected on the tabletop in my friends' kitchen in Pleasanton.

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