THE FRIENDLY DARK SOUTHERN SKIES
In the Northern Hemisphere we can see some stunning celestial objects; we can witness meteor showers and fantastic bolides and we can see rings around the sun and moon, which are caused by light reflecting from cirrus clouds (made of ice crystals). We can see planets, stars, and arms of our home galaxy; depending on our lighting and pollution conditions we can see dim stars, star colors, the Milky Way and the nearest galaxy to our own, Andromeda.
As children if we are fortunate we have telescopes and excellent binoculars with which to see the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, the features on our Moon, and with proper filter protection, solar prominences and sunspots. We can pick out some of the better known constellations and asterisms, such as Orion and the Summer Triangle.
However, many of the sights people can witness in the celestial realm are seen only in the Southern Hemisphere. Certain supernovae for instance have been seen only from that part of the Earth, and some of the best dark skies in the world are in that hemisphere.
Wouldn’t it be great if the nations of the Southern Hemisphere engaged in eco-friendly peacetime deals and stopped their wars based on religion and grabbing power, in tearing down the forests and destroying the land? There is so much to marvel at and ponder if only the people of Indonesia, India, Africa and South America would lay down their weapons and quell their anger and just take time to gaze into the skies on clear nights.
What would they see? They certainly would see sights on a grand scale, such as we can see here if we are lucky.
Americans are learning the benefits of having regions devoted to dark-sky observation, freed from development and away from the lights of big cities and industry. We know that reducing the amount of artificial light that enters our windows at night is beneficial for our health, but we still need street lights that are designed and efficient enough to direct light down instead of up and out. Better lighting would reduce greatly the amount of that awful “light pollution” that clouds the skies even dozens of miles away from cities.
Thus in areas with fewer cities and developments, such as are seen in some parts of the Southern Hemisphere, just think of the benefits the peoples could draw in by catering to people who want to see wonderful dark-sky conditions. Eco-tourism is growing in popularity, and there would be nothing better for some overworked city dweller to come to a quiet, dark, calm place, and get out there under the sparkling show of a velvety black panorama.
There would be globular clusters, galaxies, planets, stars, meteor showers, the spiral arms of our Milky Way; there would be constellations and comets to grace the eyes and the brains of astute viewers. What a place to hold a Messier Marathon an area such as India, Micronesia, Australia, Indonesia, and Easter Island would be!
What else would the peoples of the Southern Hemisphere see? Branch out for a moment from talk of the skies and the planets and think about what they would see in others and in themselves. They would see other human beings just as they are, they would see families and young children yearning for a chance to have peace and quiet and grow up in a place free from constant noise and lights for security and weapons discharging and waste ruining the streets and the atmosphere. They would see people yearning for freedom to enjoy nights in the countryside with their relatives; they would see people wanting time on their front porches to watch the meteors or watch the progression of the planets as their ancestors did centuries ago.
They would see more than a resource for bringing in serious bucks and for preserving their natural environments; they would see each other.
Galaxies in our own right are we humans; with so many parts but within each individual, within each person there are opportunities, there are chances and there is potential. We are stardust each one of us; we are made of the universal elements born in supernovae. Our common beginning is up there and around us, in the cosmos, in the evolving universe, and in the stars our destiny is happening every second.
We can take notice of each other and with clear heads we can look up and help others do the same. Take the time, turn off the lights, go outside, be quiet, relax and breathe, and just look up.
Divi Logan, Chicago, 2013.
- Revealing the Cosmic Microwave Background with Planck (physicsforme.wordpress.com)
- Crossing the Galactic Plane – and the photon belt (uama.wordpress.com)
- Video: Timelapse of night sky over southern oceans (earthsky.org)
- Another chance to catch the moon and Comet PANSTARRS on March 13 (earthsky.org)
- Rare ‘Zodiacal Light’ will be visible in night sky soon (mnn.com)
- Comets PANSTARRS and Lemmon sweep through the southern skies (earthsky.org)
UNDERLYING NEGATIVES: SUBTLE OR OVERT, THESE WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS CLOUD OUR “SOCIAL MEDIA”
Well, if you are as I am, you have had quite enough of certain words, hints, expressions and concepts clouding our airwaves lately. What have you heard enough of, and how has hearing such things affected you or someone you know or love or care deeply about or work with?
In 2012 hearing the expression “fiscal cliff” was enough, but added to that in Illinois people had to deal with “pension crisis”, “gang turf”, “gang rape”, and “foreclosure”. Sure these are all terms that can interrelate as concerns politics, economic situations, neighborhoods and communities, but please folks, must we hear about them EVERY DAY?
Will talking about “gun violence” do anything until we actually sit down with a plan and ACT UPON what is needed?
And what about “behavioral problems”? Well now, everyone has some degree of a “behavioral problem”, and certainly this ties into “gun control” and the Second Amendment chatter going on. We would do well with the types and amounts of handguns all ready in the marketplace and at those gun shows and in private collections. We do not need assault weapons or high powered guns that do nothing but make havoc and crisis and tragedy and suffering. Continue to bug the daylights out of your elected officials until they act to ban such weapons from our nation for good.
Foreclosure and the banks and AIG and the insurance crisis… oh poor us under the gun of corporate thuggery and our own tendency to greed, pride, showing off, materialism, envy and coveting. Pity us who are in such a vulnerable state of behavioral crisis, and the corporations know that and see it and use their tactics to act on our vices, enhance them and make them seem acceptable, wonderful, marvelous and great. So we want a home larger than we can afford because we think it will make us “look good” or “get ahead” with someone? We think the same about our clothes and cars and jobs and the schools we put our kids in.
Status symbolism is materialism and the Seven Deadly Sins rolled up into one concept. So what if you have a box seat at the symphony or can get your name on the list of the highest donors to some hospital or park or music center? Is your home free of leaks, holes, broken windows and an overgrown lawn? Then what do you need so many bedrooms, bathrooms, and thousands more square feet for? To show that you can have an indoor basketball court or pool?
And what is a car meant to do? It is meant to get you from point A to point B, plain and simple. What do you need in a car- a DVD player, an IPOD hook up, a cell phone link or a miniature movie theater? What do you need to keep your kids entertained on a road trip, some little electronic device that makes noise and is easily broken? Didn’t have those things when I was a kid on road trips. I made do with visual and intellectual games, reading or eating or just resting and enjoying the scenery. I played games like finding out of state license plates or considering the types of architecture I saw on those road trips. I would think about the changing landscape or skies or weather conditions. If I became uninterested in the outside I turned to actual BOOKS and stimulated my brain that way. I did not need movies, my own phone or miniature television to stay entertained. I would read the newspaper and discuss currrent events with my travel companions.
What about upholding the Second Amendment? Hear ye, NRA, just because someone talks about eliminating assault -style weapons from our shelves and stores does not mean a total push to get rid of our Second Amendment rights and privileges – now that latter words is the most important here, PRIVILEGE. It is a privilege to own a weapon; we have the right to do that, to protect our homes and businesses with them, but we also must learn how to use them properly and take care of them so they function properly. No one needs a military -style weapon, unless they are in the military and are fighting in some situation where the potential of having to use dozens of rounds at a time might be necessary. You do not need one of those AR weapons or M weapons to go hunting or protect your home or property. Any gun will do the job, after all it only takes one right shot to do the work.
For the rest of the negatives, how about “the flu”, or “food stamps” (especially hearing that millions of American kids rely on them), or “the government”, or one of the worst but most widely accepted is “social media”.
Now, all media outlets are in a sense social. The “mass media” are meant to draw people together to interact on certain events and concepts, to get us to think about something in a herd instinct mentality or to talk about issues of national or global importance, or at least what some news producer think is important, valid, or worth our time to see or hear. The private electronics world of the I -devices is social and yet it is antisocial. Through the pods and pads and tablets and readers people can chat, text, go to the Web, research, share data, look at electronic books and articles, and do business networking. That is the social/ society/ group aspect of those forms of sharing and media. These forms of expression and media become antisocial by… well, just look around next time you are on a city bus, waiting at a train or bus station or airport. How many people are silent, some with blank or glazed expressions, sitting or standing near you and others, holding on to those little devices as though they were platinum bars or something so precious that it would be a disaster to lose them? There they are with those cords hanging from their ears, wound around arms and hands, and sticking out of pockets, perfect targets for criminals who will think nothing of shoving that inattentive music listener to the floor and making off with that phone, pad, pod, tablet or reader and leaving them in whatever state they happen to be.
What else is negative, well anything dealing with our United States Congress, that is for sure. Anything about the Speaker of the House, the Senate, the House, any of them, I can do without. Anything about Syria, Israel, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Egypt I can care less about at this time. We need to focus on getting our own country, the UNITED STATES, not only back together but actually UNITED, thank you. No more money for foreign nations, not one cent. No more military support for them either, not one person or cent or plane or bomb until these folks can learn to take care of themselves instead of having us babysit and protect and train them. These countries were around long before America was even a thought, so let them deal with what they will. Let us turn to taking care of our own; it is long past due that we do.
Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2013.
Listening to the news this morning, sounding all blase’ and secular and people-touting, I shook my head at such phrases similar to, “We’re trying to burn off this fog.” “We’re burning off this fog.” Well now, it is high time the media folks started putting such talk aside and out and over for good.
Might as well come to terms with it, media people. We might blame the weather for this or that, but a lot of what goes on is natural and not of our doing or anything we can control. Talk of global warming aside, Earth has seen many cycles of warming and freezing, spurts of human activity and changes in where industrialization and collections of people happen through the centuries. Our position in the Milky Way galaxy changes as well, so there are varying amounts of dust and light and gas that are factors too.
Certainly we do not “burn off the fog”, “drive the snow out”, or “get rid of the rain” any more than we cause the sun to move or the Earth to rotate. Think we can bring the rain?
The Sun, a middle-aged yellow star which is over 100 Earths wide, provides the heat engine to drive the weather. Water vapor, winds, dust in the atmosphere, and air pressure affect that which we have come to know as weather. It happens every day and can be described in dozens if not hundreds of ways. We have sunny days, hot days, drought; we have floods, tornadoes, dust storms and bow-echo thunderstorms that can spread damage over wide swaths of the nation. We study the weather but we cannot bid it to come or go.
We can certainly do our best to take precautions regarding the weather or other natural occurrences. Citizens and officials can try to work together to make living areas safer against floods, fires, tornadoes and winds. We can be careful of where we build, we can control the brush around our homes and keep our parks cleaner, and we can work with those in the sciences to develop materials and building techniques that will at least make an attempt at keeping buildings safer against severe storms.
In Nashville one year I was home in my circa-1917 bungalow, sturdy with a stone foundation and first floor walls, with the storm door tightly shut and bolted, when a severe storm blew in, and wow did it ever blow through! 90 to 100 mile an hour winds whistled through and made that eerie noise one might hear in a hurricane; after all, those are hurricane -force winds. Lightning scorched the skies east of the city for a long time after that.
Now lightning is one of those unpredicatables- who knows where it will strike; though when it does it is about 40,000 degrees and bolts can be an inch wide (maybe they can be more than that?). Who among us knows how big or small hailstones will be until we see and measure them? You can tell there is hail in a storm by the odd greenish-gray coloration seen in the clouds when the storms are coming. A hail -producing storm from the distance has a line of green under the cloud. I noted that phenomena once north of Nashville. Sure enough, as the weather report talked about the storm there was a thin line of greenish-gray under that cloud miles away!
So you weather people can “try as hard as we can to burn off that dense fog” or “get rid of the rain and let the sun come out” but wouldn’t it be best just to stick to plain talk and give the weather forecast and conditions as you see them and let go the small talk? Put aside the “we are trying hard to get rid of the fog” bit and just be plain and logical in your talks- no blame, none of the human factor, just the facts straight up and tell people what the conditions are. Make the scientific part of it fun and challenging too, for people who want to know the meteorology facts and stats, rather as the forecasters on WGN in Chicago do.
Weather can be fun and challenging to study, as anything natural or in the universe can be, with the remembrance that we did not create it and all in all we do not influence it. Nature is ours to enjoy and take care of to the best of our abilities.
What can you do to keep your environment clean, fresh, enjoyable and wonderful? As you study it, think about it.
Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.
- Severe Weather A Possibility (chrisallenchallenge.wordpress.com)
- Severe T’Storm Watch For Miss. (wtok.com)
- News Radio Grammar School: A Look at WBBM’s Reporting (goldenorbtexttiles.wordpress.com)
- Stormy Afternoon Recap (valleywx.com)
- Severe storms to the north of Houston, may move south this evening (chron.com)
- More severe storms possible late Saturday (wtvr.com)
- Monitoring and Understanding Trends in Extreme Storms: State of Knowledge (bespacific.com)
- NWS Declares Tornado in Girard (wytv.com)
- Tornado watch issued for eastern Massachusetts until 9 p.m. tonight, Weather Service says (boston.com)
Every August and into September you hear it, that old worn out, trite phrase “back to school“. And what do you hear in the same paragraph? Retailers are hoping for… or some other commercial, financial, or corporate talk. Geez whizz already… a little off the main course, aren’t we? (And I am not talking about a big banquet, either.)
It reminds me of the advertising and talking up people do for weddings. In the bridal magazines are advertisements for gowns costing thousands of dollars, for honeymoon vacations, for limousine rentals, for rings and shoes, for the bridal party, for photographers, for reception favors and for gigantic cakes.
One might forget that the purpose of the wedding is a ceremony uniting two people, for the start of life together, for what those who attend can hope will be bliss, happiness and a good family life for the couple. Just as this goes to the retail pot every time someone talks of getting married, so this gibberish about back to school has become blown way out of proportion.
I mean, whose business is it anyway if some parents dress their kids in outfits costing hundreds of dollars, as a local news bit had on the radio today (so what, spend what you want on the kids and buy where you please- no one has to know). Whose business is it where you buy the school supplies– from the local small business drugstore or from Walgreens.
Back to school should be about one thing- getting an education and preparing to be a good citizen of this great nation. It is not uniforms, clothes, shoes, the latest gadgets, computers, cliques (or how to avoid being caught up in one), sneakers, jewelry, hair styles or anything of the kind. These kinds of things are about as meaningless as the junk on the census forms, the demographic junk that inhibits national progress. Back to school should be about getting to the bus stop safely, behaving in school, paying attention in class, and learning what you are there to learn. School is not about what you are wearing or what part of town you come from- that is no one’s business but your own, and keep it that way.
There are the basics of course- the reading, writing, spelling, geography, history, social studies, civics, language arts and such. There are the niceties such as dance, music, band, shop, sports, and cheerleading, if one is so inclined to engage in these activities. You can learn the computer, you can learn the cello; you can learn auto mechanics, or you can learn physics.
It is vital that parents or guardians tell the students about avoiding bullies, about not being a bully, about sticking to one’s own business, about proper behavior and about staying out of trouble. Give incentives for being good, and emphasize the purpose of school and doing one’s best in academics, in sports, in whatever the student engages for achieveing a well-rounded education. After all, the roots of education prepare the student to grow strong stems (STEM, of course), in the future.
EDUCATION: From the root words meaning TO DRAW OUT, MARCH OUT, or LEAD OUT. That is what happens- in school one’s talents are drawn out and polished and used with wisdom and knowledge; the student is thus prepared, on graduation day, to march out to destiny with their class, perhaps as valedictorian. They will not only lead out the others but then will be come leaders and begin the cycle anew- drawing out the talents and gifts of others and leading them to do their best too.
Begin your students on a lifelong love of learning, literally a path to a good life and being a good citizen. LEARN comes from the root -leisa, which stems from words meaning bed, garden bed, track, furrow or path. Learning is creating a map of skills, talents, and knowledge you gain and put together for use in any situation, any kind of plan or for accomplishing any goal throughout life. Is it all “academic”? You better believe it is!
A love of learning plants strong roots and builts strong stems. The school campus is merely a ground for those roots and stems to be planted and to bloom and to be fertilized and grow. The learning experience takes place outside the campus too, and in the world away from those classrooms and the gym and the lunchroom is where many of the best learning experiences take place. Live it, love it, learn it and keep on “educating” yourself and others.
Have a safe, pleasant academic year!
- Back to School after Summer Vacation – 6 Ways to Help Your Child Be Ready to Learn (schoolfamily.com)
- Perspectives on Back To School (catholiccharitiesdioceseofkalamazoo.wordpress.com)
- Back to School Tips: The Academic Advantage (formulamom.com)
- Back-to-School Freebies (suddenlyfrugal.com)
- Chicago Public Schools: Lesson 2. Education’s Roots and Stems (edushirtssupports.wordpress.com)
- Save in style on the hottest supplies for the 2012 back-to-school season (mamasbagoftricks.blogspot.com)
- Seminar for High School Educators on Business and Financial Responsibility School (educationviews.org)
- My ideal school – a graduate’s perspective (bloxhammarketing.com)
- Huntington Beach ready to take on bullies (ocregister.com)
- Great Teachers Harness the Energy of Students (ed.gov)