Archive for September, 2010

Backyard Astronomy
September 30, 2010

Thanks to Dave Grosvold from the Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society for this week’s blog entry.  You can learn more about their club by visiting www.aoas.org

In late evening, as Jupiter rises high in the southeast, look for Fomalhaut, (pronounced FOAM-a-lot, or less commonly, FOAM-al-howt.) Fomalhaut is known as the Autumn Star, sparkling far to Jupiter’s lower right in the south-southeast. The name Fomalhaut means “the mouth of the whale” in Arabic, and it is the brightest star in the constellation Piscis Austrinus, The Southern Fish.

Uranus, at magnitude 5.7, is only 1° to 1.5° to the left of Jupiter this week, still close, but you may need to move a few field-of-view widths in a telescope or binoculars to spot it. Neptune is also a relatively easy target early in the evening on the border between Capricornus, the Goat-Horn, and Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Can you see any color in Uranus and/or Neptune? There should be just the tiniest hint of pale green in Uranus and pale blue in Neptune.

Even though Venus is at its brightest now at magnitude –4.8, it is becoming a thin, long crescent. Venus is sinking very low in the southwest during bright twilight, setting well before dark ahead of Mars, 6.5° to Venus’s upper right all week. That’s about one field-of-view width in a typical pair of 7 x 50 binoculars, which you’ll definitely need to spot either of them.

Mercury is still very bright at magnitude -1, and is a fine morning target for planet watchers. Once again this week, look for it low in the east about 45 minutes before sunrise. It sinks lower as the week advances, getting lost in the glare of the sun by mid-next week.

After Venus sets, look to the west-northwest, and notice that five constellations form a line descending from the zenith down to the horizon. Remember from earlier articles that the zenith is the point directly overhead from your observing position. Near the zenith is the star Deneb: the head of the Northern Cross  asterism, which is actually the tail of Cygnus, the Swan. Next down is Lyra, the Lyre, with the bright star Vega, then comes dim Hercules, the Kneeler, the then little Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, and then big Boötes, the Herdsman, with bright reddish Arcturus low in the west-northwest.

Hiding in Hercules is one of the most beautiful jewels of the night sky, the Great Cluster in Hercules (M 13,) the brightest globular cluster in the northern hemisphere. M 13 lies two-thirds of the way along the longest side of the Keystone asterism, a quadrangle in Hercules formed by the stars Pi, Eta, Zeta, and Delta Herculis. Look about mid-way up to the zenith in the west-northwest for the Keystone, and then look to the north end of the longest side to find M 13,in a clear dark sky, it should be visible as a fuzzy patch slightly larger than a star. A telescopic view reveals a myriad of stars swarming around in a big ball — about a hundred thousand of them in all. M 13 is a spectacular sight on a crisp clear night like the ones we’ll have this week, and should not be missed.

Drew Michaels

Follow us on Twitter at “4029weather”

Lincoln Apple Festival Friday Forecast
September 30, 2010

So much talk has been devoted to the Arkansas/Oklahoma State Fair and Bikes, Blues, and BBQ; however, we don’t want to forget about the Apple Festival in Lincoln, AR. 

Fall is in the air and the weather will be wonderful on Friday if you’re heading out to the festival.  Expect a lot of sunshine with cool conditions in the 60’s before noon.  The high of the afternoon will top out at 75 degrees!

Drew Michaels

Follow us on Twitter at “4029weather”

Tim Ernst Releases His New Arkansas Autumn Book…Talks Fall Color
September 30, 2010

Tim Ernst has released his new coffee table picture book, Arkansas Autumn and talks about the fall color so far this year. You can read all of Tim Ernst’s Cloudland Cabin Journal entries at this link http://timernst.com/currentjournal.html. Here is a great segment from this past week.

09/28/10 We had to alter a long-standing tradition at Cloudland yesterday – FLANNEL SHEETS before October 1st! I’ve always loved flannel sheets but have always waited until October to install them, however with the chilly temps we’ve had we decided to put them on early and they feel great! ‘Tis a sign of fall weather – which makes sense since autumn began last week. Nuts are another sure sign of fall, however I’m not really sure how good the nut or “mast” crop is going to be this year – I’ve seen a few hickory trees ready to produce, but not much in the way of acorns. Squirrels left Cave Mountain many months ago to migrate elsewhere in search of food and I’ve not seen but one or two up here since. I wonder where they go?

Fall color continues to be on hold right now – knocked back by all the rain a couple of weeks ago. But the forecast looks great – NO RAIN at all in sight, which is BEST for blazing fall color. Optimum conditions are no rain for the next 2-3 of weeks, then bring on a hurricane to sit on top of us and rain for a week to bring up the waterfalls while the color is here. Too much rain early and we get yellow/orange in the landscape. There must be other factors at play for the color too – I saw a brilliant blood-red maple leaf the other day – this very same tree was yellow last year. So I’m thinking we might have a much redder fall color season this year, which would be a change from the past couple of years. I plan to get out more and more in the coming weeks to take pictures and explore and I will be posting fall color updates at the top of the Journal as I see them.

Speaking of autumn, we have just posted the new HOLIDAY SPECIAL PACKAGE for this year and it includes for the first time a matted fine art print at no cost, free, zippo! And you have a choice of two different fall scenes for your print – a detailed macro shot of a beautiful popcorn tree leaf, or a downstream view of Compton’s Double Falls taken last year when the forest was ablaze with yellow. The prints are my standard premium, archival fine art prints (5″ x 7″ – a special size that we do not sell otherwise); paired with an acid-free black mat (8″ x 10″ and ready to place in any standard frame, or just enjoy as is in their clear protective sleeve). Also included are an autographed copy of the new ARKANSAS AUTUMN picture book and our new 2011 ARKANSAS scenic wall calendar – all for $49.95 (so you are getting the print for free!). We are now shipping the calendar and Don’s new ARKANSAS WILDFLOWER guidebook, however the picture book is not here yet but is expected within the next week, so all orders that include the picture book will ship out next week. By the way, when you need to send out a bunch of these holiday special packages to family and friends all you need to do is place the order for as many as you need, then send me an e-mail with all their addresses and we’ll ship them direct for you! Instant Christmas all taken care of!

Speaking of pictures, I got up early the other day and headed into town for chores but stopped along the way and hiked out to the top of a tall bluff to have a look at sunrise. When I walked out onto the edge of the big bluff I was met with a sea of clouds that blanketed the canyon below and reached all the way up to my feet – it was quite an incredible scene spread out before me. I spent the next hour on top of that bluff playing with a new camera that I’ve been testing, but I also spent a good bit of time just standing there in awe at the glory of the moment. I just had to laugh when I got back to the cabin and discovered that my lovely bride had been out on the back deck taking her own photos of that sea of clouds and the “God beams” that were created as the cloud bank rose and engulfed the cabin – I do believe that her photos were better than anything I took!

This morning is chilly and clear again, and stepping outside and taking in a deep breath of that marvelous fresh air is just wonderful. There is a slight breeze and basically no sound at all – the wilderness is asleep, or holding its breath in anticipation of the coming of fall! I’m headed out in a few minutes for a quick fitness hike (still holding steady at 166 pounds, yippie!). The other evening I headed out for a long hike and was not dressed for the cold weather and strong winds and drizzle – just a thin pair of shorts and an even thinner shirt. By the end of the first mile I was numb, and it only got worse. But the key was to just hike faster, and then I could tolerate the cold. When I returned to the cabin a couple of hours later it took me nearly that long to thaw out! But it was a great hike, as they all are. Oops, the rising sun has just hit me in the face and is screaming at me to get out and HIKE! And so I must obey…

Just a quick workshop note. We are now full again for our October 16th workshop but still have some space left in the October 17th workshop. Plus there is a rare opening in our October 22-24 weekend workshop (due to a student working on the Gulf oil spill that can’t attend). Contact me ASAP if you want to sign up. Details here

Courtesy of Tim Ernst. You can read more on his Cloudland Journal at the following link. http://timernst.com/currentjournal.html

Ross Ellet

Follow us on twitter “4029weather”

September Review
September 30, 2010

Even though September is ending on a cooler and drier note, the month as a whole was hot and wet. The September statistics are above. Fort Smith ended the month with more than 2 inches above average rainfall, Fayetteville was a little more than a half-inch above average. Most locations were between 1 and 2 degrees above normal as well. 2 out of every 3 days during the month was sunny, that is a  trend that will continue into October. The first week of the month is expected to be sunny.

Ross Ellet

Follow us on twitter “4029weather”

State Fair & Bikes, Blues, & BBQ Forecast
September 29, 2010

The great weather will continue into Wednesday and last the rest of the week. We will have wall to wall sunshine today with warmer afternoon highs and low humidity. Your official Arkansas/Oklahoma State Fair forecast is below for today. Also we have this evening’s Bikes, Blues, & BBQ forecast.

Ross Ellet

Follow us on twitter “4029weather”

Personal Disaster Kit
September 28, 2010

September is national preparedness month across the United Sates.  I thought since we ave a break in the forecast this would be a good time to remind people on what to have in a disaster kit. 

There are three things on this list that often get overlooked:

1.  Footwear:  If a disaster hits in the middle of the night, how are you going to get around?  Imagine all of the little things you could cut your feet on. 

2.  Medicines:  If a major disaster hits you may be without your medicine for days.  It’s always important to fill an extra prescription that can get you through the critical time.

3.  Credit Card/Cash:  An emergency card or cash could come in handy in any disaster.

Drew Michaels

Follow us on Twitter at “4029weather”

Great Viewing Of The Big Red Spot Tonight
September 28, 2010

If you have a telescope you have a great opportunity to see the Great Red Spot on Jupiter later this evening. The moon will not rise until 10:06pm allowing for very dark conditions between 8 and 10 pm. Jupiter will be bright in the southeast part of the sky tonight. The Big Red Spot will rotate to the center of Jupiter by 8:19pm CDT. The storm should be visible from 8pm through at least 8:40pm tonight.

Ross Ellet

Follow us on twitter “4029weather”

Another Cold Front Thursday
September 27, 2010

Welcome to Fall!  This is the time of the year where every 3 or 4 days we usually experience fast-moving fronts from the northwest.  This week will be no different.  Expect slightly warmer temperatures for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; however, late Thursday a front will move in to knock down temperatures toward the weekend.

This front will have very little moisture to work with, so we’re going with a dry forecast at this point.  Bikes, Blues, and BBQ kicks off on Wednesday!  The weather looks great for the start of the festival. 

Drew Michaels

Follow us on Twitter at “4029weather”

Fall Is Here To Stay
September 27, 2010

All of the sudden summer is out and fall is in across the area. You can thank the jet stream. For most of the summer a large ridge has dominated the area and over the weekend it has been replaced by a large trough which has allowed the chilly Canadian air to dive south. The upper level pattern will remained locked into position all week-long. The result will be summer conditions confined to the desert southwest and fall conditions continuing across our area through the weekend with dry weather.

Ross Ellet

Follow us on twitter “4029weather”

Quiet Pattern Ahead
September 26, 2010

The upper low responsible for bringing us this cool spell will depart to the east.  As this moves away, temperatures will warm up for the middle of the week.  There will be a large ridge of high pressure to our west.  This jetstream pattern will be locked in for next week or so and is favorable for dry weather. 

Damon Shaw, 40/29 Meteorologist

Follow us on twitter at “4029weather”