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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Look At The Sky: April


A very special treat is in store for stargazers in the western USA as well as most of the south Pacific, Australia, etc.  The full moon on April 4 will undergo over 9 hours in various stages of eclipse by the earth's shadow.  Those living WEST of Arkansas Sky Observatory will be able to view the eclipse all the way into totality, but for ASO and points east, the moon will be setting just as totality begins on the morning of April 4.  For full details and a map of the path of the earth's shadow, see the NASA site:

The Solar System in April 2015
An excellent month for planetary viewing, with Jupiter and Saturn ruling the skies!

Mercury - Although VERY close to the sun and in strong twilight in April, watch for Mercury to climb into the western sky a bit higher each night after April 20; from the 21-24, watch as tiny bright Mercury moves eastward past the ruddy red planet MARS - in ARIES

Venus - Very bright and high in western April skies this 2015, in the constellation of Taurus.  This is a very favorable time to view Venus, with its disk about 75% illuminated as we see it from Earth and at magnitude -4.1 brighter than any object in the sky except for the sun and moon! - in TAURUS.

Jupiter -  Our mightiest of planets, Jupiter, will be directly overhead at dark this month, a very dominating yellow orb straight up for northern observers; although the planet is a bit farther from us than last month, it is still a wonderful telescopic object. .  - In CANCER

Saturn -  The ringed planet will be rising at about 11 p.m. local time and will dominate the skies this month and through the summer.   This remarkable planet is very favorably placed with the rings tilted favorably toward earth this month  - in LIBRA


Observe when the moon does not interfere and attempt to observe AFTER midnight for most meteors to be seen!  For April, there are no less than NINE meteor showers, some of which provide for wonderful spring sky shows, provided that the light of the moon does not interfere.  However, as with a months and times during the year, observers should always be aware that new sporadic meteor showers can occur at anytime from seemingly unknown sources and radiants.  NOTE:  one of the most interesting of all meteor showers is the odd "April Fireballs" (see below) which occur this month.

April 4 - Kappa Serpentid Meteors - This is a one-week-duration meteor shower, from April 1 through 7, with somewhat of a mild peak about midway through that period; look for the radiant to rise in the constellation of Serpens about 8 p.m local time just south of due east and be nearly overhead for observers in southern latitudes of the northern hemisphere at about 2 a.m.  Several meteors per hour should be seen from this minor radiant in normal years, and this year is poor since the moon will be full at this peak and dominate the sky all night long

April 7 - Delta Draconid Meteors - With no particular peak to speak of, this is one of those "circumpolar" meteor showers for northern hemisphere observers that will be in the sky pretty much all night; it is a very long duration shower from late March until about April 17.  Found only in 1971 in the constellation of Draco, the meteors are conspicuously slow and leave very fine trains in their wakes; to view the most meteors from this now-annual shower, set up about 10 p.m. local time and face somewhat northeast; as the night progresses the meteors will be originating more and more from very high northern skies....thus after midnight direct your sights to nearly directly overhead, the ZENITH.  Note that the moon, slightly less than full and very bright before midnight will hamper observations during the course of the night

April 10 -Viginid Meteors - This is the first of THREE meteor showers which appear to emanate from the constellation of VIRGO during the month of April each year.  A two-week display, the meteors can be seen coming from just south of overhead (northern hemisphere) from April 1 through 15 with no definite peak; to differentiate THIS shower from the other two, the radiant is centered at near right ascension 12h 24m / declination 00 degrees.  This year the moon is strongly gibbous and its light will interfere until just before dawn, so this will be an unfavorable year for this meteor shower..

April 14 - THE APRIL FIREBALLS - A particularly good year for this interesting shower in early morning hours because the thin crescent moon will be rising well after midnight and should not hamper observations on this date!....., but then again being bright fireballs, these can be seen in spite of even city lights!   As its name suggests, this can sometimes be a pretty spectacular display if the conditions are right and the skies are dark; however, during times of the new moon - as it was in 2010 - , these huge and bright fireballs come streaking clearly across our crisp and clear springtime skies along with countless fainter meteors that are associated with no identified meteor swarm.  This unusual display lasts for the last two full weeks of April....there is no known radiant or seeming point of origin for this curious group, and they can be seen originating from just about any part of the dark night sky.  They likewise are not - or appear to not be - associated with any other known major or minor meteor shower group.  The April Fireballs are characterized by tremendously bright meteors, nearly all of which demonstrate beautiful and long-lasting trails through the sky.   Even with the bright moon however, with their brightness, the light should not interfere for observing these very spectacular meteors.  Always look for the April Fireballs late in the night, preferably after midnight.   Because of the late nature of the peak of these unusual meteors, 2015 should be a  favorable time to try to catch a few of these.  NOTE:  several of these renegade meteors have been known to reach the ground as meteorites!  Heads UP!

April 17 - Sigma Leonid Meteors - The Sigma Leonids are no longer "in" Leo....they have migrated it seems into Virgo to become one of our three Virgo showers for April.  The radiant is up early, just due south of overhead about 9:30 p.m. local time; this is a minor shower with only a few members seen on dark nights per hour.  The nearly new moon will be absent from the sky all night  so it should not interfere with observations of this shower

April 22 - The Lyrid Meteor Shower - Other than some spectacular fireworks from the April Fireballs (see above), this is April's most dependable meteor showers and typically one of the best of each year; this year the first quarter moon will not interfere with any observing of meteors meteors after midnight, typically the best time to view the greatest number of Lyrids.  This shower is comprised of cometary debris from Comet Thatcher, a very famous comet last seen in 1861.  Although this associated comet was not identified until only 100 or so years ago, this meteor shower from it's demise is one of the oldest known on record, being recorded by the ancient Chinese stargazers first in 687 B.C.  As with many meteor showers - and the comets they come from - this one seems to be waning with every encounter with the earth however.  It is no longer the sky spectacle as recorded by those earliest sky watchers.  Look for the meteors to emanate from a point on the Hercules-Lyra border, very near the brilliant blue-white star Vega.  The radiant rises about 7:30 p.m. local time, but the best time to see the most meteors each year is always around midnight when the radiant is nearly directly overhead at midnight for northern hemisphere observers.

April 25 Mu Virginid Meteors - This is our third of three meteor showers within the constellation of Virgo for the month of April, and is south of overhead about 1 a.m. local time, far in the eastern realms of the large Virgo constellation; it takes dark, moonless skies to see the few  - only about 7 per hour - meteors from this annual minor display.  The quarter moon will set shortly after midnight, so you might wait until late for this one!

April 23 - Grigg-Skjellerup Meteors - Here is an oddity just by its name...the only annual meteor shower known by the comet from which the meteoroid cloud came!  It also is unique in that it is a "localized" meteor shower, visible only in certain parts of the world, but not others, on each pass.  For example, there was a brilliant display of these meteors seen in New Zealand in 1977....but not one in the United States.  If visible, they will be seen early in the evening, originating south of overhead.  At right ascension 07h 48m / declination -45 degrees, these will appear to be coming literally from the south horizon for northern hemisphere observers, perhaps the only way to differentiate them from the other meteors showers in the same direction of sky each April.  This year is a poor year for this unusual meteor shower since the quarter moon will dominate the early evening period in which this shower should be seen.

April 28 - Alpha Bootid Meteors - Coming from a point very near the bright "alpha star" Capella in the constellation of Bootes, this radiant is in the sky from dusk until dawn, and nearly overhead at about 1 a.m.  Look for these meteors to be few, BUT those that are seen are typically very fine fireballs moving slowly across the sky and leaving beautiful "smoky trails" behind them.  Observers will be hampered by moonlight for this shower in 2015 - the radiant rises about 3-4 hours after sunset, and the moon will be dominant in the sky for this meteor shower in 2015

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Four Gospels - One Story: Palm Sunday

Sometimes when I do a Bible study in the Gospels, I like to put together all the accounts to get an overall view of what was happening.  That was no different with my reading today... I wanted to see all four accounts of Palm Sunday.
To do this, I copy the text from all four into different documents.  Then I color each one in a separate color.  Then I work them together into one story, using each telling to its fullest.
(I have no idea why the wonky formatting... just Blogger being Blogger, I guess!)
Palm Sunday
Matthew      Mark      Luke     John

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.  The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a a donkey tied, and a colt with her, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it to me.  If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.  and he will send them at once.”  And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it.
 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
“Say to (Fear not,) the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.  and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, just as he had told them.  And they went away and they untied it.  And some of those standing there (its owners) said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 
They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus and put on them (it) their cloaks, and he sat on them. 
 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the palm trees and spread them on the road to meet him.   As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.  And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”  And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
And he entered Jerusalem and Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.  But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,
“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
    you have prepared praise’?”
And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there with the twelve.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Strong as a Daffodil

Last summer I had my fill of dealing with weeds around this tree.  It was a mess, to say the least.  So we did a 'bust all of them' approach.  I covered the entire area with heavy duty ground cover.  My daffodils had already died back completely so I wasn't worried much about them.

That is until a couple weeks ago it dawned on my that the daffodils were up all over the area (tho none were blooming yet).  Oh no!

I pulled and dug to get the mulch and ground cover off them.  Poor things were flat as paper and absolutely yellow.

What a difference 24 hours made!  Everyone was standing upright...sort of.

And here is the next day... starting to turn green and there are buds!

Two more days.

And now... they will be blooming any time.

Isn't nature amazing?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show 2015

Earlier in the month Himself and I made our annual visit to the Nashville Lawn and Garden show.  It was SO needed... only a few days earlier (opening day for them!) it had snowed 7 inches and we were once again trapped on our hill.

This year wasn't as interesting as other years, there were quite a few less garden displays and those there weren't as intricate.  One large section of the building was devoted to a 'wine party' with TN vineyards touting their wines.  Why?  

But there were still cool things to look at...

We both love this millstone fountain.

And what a fun idea of scattering in colored glass into a rock garden to make it a "pond".  I'll be using this idea.

A variation of a pergola.  And isn't that chair beautiful?

There were several small planting areas that I'm going to do my spin on in the yard.

Purple!  I want purple in my garden too.

My favorite shabby chic designer was back.  This year they featured the concrete 'fabric' drape planters.  It's an idea that seems easy enough.  I might give it a try.

So fun!

Several of the floral designers made fairy gardens.

Such cute little dish gardens!

Another favorite: the formal floral arrangements.

They are always so lovely.

Then we moved on to the commercial area.  A lot of the same stuff as in years past.

However, these painted stones made us smile...

Too cute!

Wouldn't this be fun covered in moss?

Himself waiting patiently while I shop.  

Ah Spring... I'm so glad you are back!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Koko Remembers Robin Williams

I just read this story on the web site of The Gorilla Foundation and wanted to share.

In 2001, Robin Williams was invited to meet Koko, the gorilla who communicates in sign language, at The Gorilla Foundation in northern California (see photo above). We had no idea what to expect, but everyone was in for a treat, and they became very special friends.

On Monday, Aug. 11, the day news broke of Williams' passing, Koko and Penny and Ron (Drs. Patterson and Cohn) were together when phone calls started coming in about the sad event. 

After the first call, Koko came to Dr. Patterson with an inquiring look on her face.  Dr. Patterson explained that "we have lost a dear friend, Robin Williams."  Koko was quiet and looked very thoughtful (above photo).

More phone calls about the news came in, and Koko overheard one from a former colleague who had worked with Williams while he filmed a public service announcement for The Gorilla Foundation (based on his visit with Koko) in 2003.  The colleague's voice broke at the end of the conversation.  About a half an hour later, Koko signed to Penny:  "CRY LIP" (LIP is Koko's sign for woman).

At the end of the day, Koko became very somber, with her head bowed and her lip quivering (below photo).

Here is the YouTube video of the day Robin Williams and Koko met...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Blue Ribbons, Red Ribbons

This year I was able to get some creative pieces together for the annual Extension Homemakers Regional Cultural Arts competition, a nine county event.  It is the qualifier to compete at the state convention in May.  

I am so pleased with how I did.  I entered 9 items and came out with 7 ribbons of first or second place.  The first place pieces will go up to Louisville in May.

Black and White Photography
"Storing Up Summer"

Jewelry - Beaded
Asymmetrical single strand, using new and vintage beads.

Jewelry - Mixed Media
"Boho Button Necklace"
Buttons, beads, and wire on a chain.

Photography - Color
"Bob White"

Drawing - Colored Pencil
"Carmen's Home"

Miscellaneous Class
"Old Rugged Cross"
Mixed Media art

Ceramics - Hand Formed
Small tray

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ohhhhh No Way!!

Have you ever seen a photo of yourself and thought "Oh my goodness!"... and NOT in a good way?

Friday Himself and I went out to mail some things, then we headed down to a recreational area along the river for a walk.  Himself took the little camera I keep in my purse and started snapping photos of me as I walked along the beach area.

When I downloaded them I was shocked.

WHO was that frump in the picture??  (Nope... not showing those pics...)

Saggy baggy clothes, no make-up and hair that could use a washing just to get it to fluff up.


Yesterday morning I was up bright and early to rip into my closet and dresser before we went into town to meet someone.  Right along the route is the Goodwill store and I fully planned to make a drop off!

This drawer had been crammed full.  Be gone dark and baggy!  I haven't lost all this weight to not show off my new form.  Most of the drawers looked like this when I was finished.

Then it was time for the closet...

Another armload of things cleared out.  I had a garbage bag full by the time we needed to leave.

When we got home I started back on the decluttering.  

My shoes that are left (actually, I ditched one more pair after I took this photo).

My dress shoes are in plastic shoe boxes with photos so I can remember what's in them.  

Also went through purses, bags, belts... well, about everything I own.  There is another trash bag sitting at the foot of the bed!

Still need to get the jewelry done.  That will be a good job for today.

Plus by the end of the month I'll be sporting a new hair cut and it is definitely time for a mani-pedi!

I never want to see that frumpy old woman again!!!