Friday, May 15, 2015

Coleman Is Synonymous with Glare Bomb

A few years ago when the company Hostess was in crisis, a problem acknowledged by the company was that their two most well known products, Twinkies and white bread, had become objects of derision. That is how I always felt about Coleman's contribution to the outdoors. Coleman brings to mind an obnoxiously bright light that takes away the enjoyment of camping and the night sky. The typical Coleman lantern is designed to throw light everywhere, compromising the night vision of it's owners, so they require more light, and creating glare for the neighbors. With a Coleman lantern, you can harass fellow campers hundreds of yards away in all directions. Most of my dark sky adventures are impaired by such lanterns because they lack appropriate shielding and are too bright for their task.

It never occurred to me the Coleman would want this association, such that when you think "Coleman" you think "glare bomb",  but recently, I noticed the branding on a Coleman easy-up.

The tarp seems to say, "Remember that obnoxious light? That is our brand".

I'd recommend a slogan to go with it, "Coleman: keeping the outdoors urban" or "Coleman: bring the glare with you".

The solution is so simple: create a lantern that directs light downward and sell a mounting pole accessory to hold the lamp at chest or eye level for adequate illumination of one's campground while preserving the ability for all to see.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Rock Rings (from December 2014)

I have a new puzzle to sort out. Last December, I examined some rocks in a nearby canyon that where covered by silt, but had rings at various former water levels. The rings are levels on the rock that got cleansed, while the rest of the rock is covered with a fine layer of sediment as the water receded. What mechanism would cause the selective cleaning?

My guess is that as the water slowly receded, it would deposit sediment on the rocks. Then, if the rain resumed, we might get a freshened surface layer of water that would cleanse the rocks. The puzzle is how an increase in rain would remain less silty than the rest of the flow. It seems logical: the first rains loosen most of the material that becomes silt, and later rains loosen less. But the water has to flow down the canyon, so any turbidity would be stirred up by the freshened flow. But it seems reasonable that an increase in flow with fresher water at the surface could clean the rocks and leave clean rings.

Other photos:

Suds formed, a presume from natural elements.

Typical muddy flow as canyon drains and water levels drop.

More rings with debris deposits.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ace Hardware Out of Touch

I like my local Ace Hardware store, but their recent mail advertisement is out of touch with Californians and with my community. Below is the flyer I received in the mail yesterday, plus my annotations.

Corporations do not have to be insensitive to make money. The flyer could have advertised low-flow shower heads, more efficient sprinklers, or other products urgently needed to help cut water use. Their concept of a green, fertilized, and chemically treated yard is also outdated, primarily, for being water dependent. Our water utility is offering help with removing lawns, while Ace is saying make them greener. Why? So they yards will be more valuable as sod?

The last item missed another opportunity. Wildomar is trying to preserve our dark sky for our own enjoyment as well as to help preserve research at nearby Palomar Observatory. Ace could be promoting lighting that provides safety and security without creating glare, cluster, light trespass, and light pollution.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lighting in Wildomar: Glarebombs slip though the cracks

A new building in Wildomar has installed lighting the violates Wildomar's municipal code and creates a safety hazard near a public school.

The Wildomar City Council has taken action on lighting violations in the past, and so this presents another problem-solving opportunity. It may be difficult to correct this building, as so much lighting has already been installed. The parking lot lighting needs to be of a lower color temperature (no higher that 3500 k). The wall-mounted glare bombs are useless, and need to removed or replaced. Even the decorative post lamps fail because they aren't adequately shielded.

These glare bombs are on Bundy Canyon Road across from Elsinore High School, a route that is frequently tread by youth showing poor judgment when crossing roads. The area is fairly dark, but now a motorist will have to see the students' dark silhouettes against the glare from the building.

This is how a community loses its dark sky.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lunar Eclipse, 3 April 2015

I've been in the desert for a couple days chasing the eclipse but caught a few other gems as well. Photo 1 is the eclipse, which makes me want to draw a distinction between total visual and total photographic. This eclipse skirted the edge of the earth's inner shadow and though it appeared completely in shadow, none of my photos show a completely shadowed moon.

These photos show one of those scenes not seen in nature, except when it is seen in nature. You will never see a setting crescent moon with the lit side of the crescent up, unless of course, it's a partial eclipse that is setting with the shadow conveniently on the bottom side. 

Below is a sun pillar that greeted me on sunrise (the vertical column about the point of sunrise). 

Last is the kind of thing perhaps only I like: a contrail being replaced by it's own shadow.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Volcanic Mayhem

My latest science illustration project is this diagram of death blows from a volcanic phenomenon known as a Large Igneous Province. The diagram is a contribution to a two-part post on the subject by John Mason, writing for Skeptical Science. 

Links to the post:


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nova in Sagittarius

A nova has appeared this week in Sagittarius. This time of year, Sagittarius is in low in the south between 5:00 and 6:00 am. I made a video comparing Sagittarius as seen on March 18 with Sagittarius seen last year.

Two years ago I photographed a nova in Delphinius. My regret is not following up over the year to observe the fading of the nova. Therefore, I have no personal estimate of how long a nova will last. I know it's not hard to research, but I prefer to observe first, a bit like reading a book before watching the movie.

Sagittarius is a summer constellation, so I will have a good six months to observe the nova's decline.