Monday, October 20, 2008

"The Old West"

Cruz and I continued the new tradition that I have started with my kids. I take each child on Fridays and we do something fun for each of them. The week before, Kenyon and I visited a cave in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Cruz viewed these pictures of the cave and decided that he wanted to go to this cave also (see Kenyon and the Giant Short-face Bear cave post). Cruz and I decided to see if we could find easier access to the cave. We parked the van at the end of a paved road behind the cave and began to hike up the back side of the mountain. On this day there was a cold front moving in from the north and kicking up quite a bit of dust. Cruz said to me, "This is like the old west." I assume he has seen a western movie that has the dust blowing around and we were in the old west. I thought this was quite funny. The batteries on the camera died while we were at the cave so we do not have any picture to document the event, but I know I will remember this in my mind for years to come. While inside we searched for any aquatic fossils that may have been left behind from Lake Bonneville, but did not find any. We only found webs and soot from a recent campfire.

These are the times that create memories. I really enjoy the time I spend with each of them. By spending time with each of them I get to see better their own personalities are little bit better. I know that I enjoy each time I spend with them, but I mostly do this to create memories for them. I hope that they will be able to remember the times that they have spent with their father and the good times we had together. I have only been a father for just shy of seven years, but know that these times go by way too fast. I hope by continuing these dates that, perhaps, this may give the illusion to slow time down a little. If only I could bring Albert Einstein back and we could work on finding a way to pause or slow down the space time continuum.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

International Space Station

This post may not be interesting for most, but it is something that goes on above our heads all the time, so give it a chance, you might enjoy this. And sorry for those not living in Utah near 40.3920 latitude, -111.8500 longitude, altitude 1390 meters, but if you are in close proximity to Lehi, Utah you are in luck. There is going to be a visible pass of the International Space Station with a magnitude -2.3 (yes this is very bright, relatively) on the morning of October 23rd at 07:27:29 (7:27 am). I wanted to give adequate warning so you could make plans to view this event. This may not sound very interesting, but it is very fascinating to view such an event. The International Space Station makes 15.77 orbits around Earth in one day. Depending on the suns angle, height of the space station, time of day, and location of the space station and location on Earth, it can become highly visible. So, if you are not on this general area at this exact time and location, don't worry the space station is visible at any location. But, do not forget, the space station moves with exactness just like any other celestial sphere. It moves with perfect time as the planets and stars do. So make sure your watch is set to the accuracy of an atomic clock. An atomic clock is accurate to 10 to the 9th seconds per day. To set your time accurately see and select your time zone.

This pass of the space station is going to be a very bright pass in terms of magnitude. Magnitude is the measure of the brightness of a celestial object. The lower the value, the brighter the object. The sun has a magnitude of -26.7, full moon -12.7, and Venus at brightest -4.4. I will not bore you with any further details, but I hope you get the idea that this is going to be a highly visible pass. If you are interested in viewing this event you will need to be very punctual, because as stated earlier the space station moves as celestial object and they were set by our Heavenly Fathers laws and they have to obey them. On the morning of Thursday, October 23rd you will need to look to west, southwest at 07:25:29 and begin the watch the horizon for this is when the space station will pass over the horizon. Those of this in this area will not see this until later because of some strange masses of dirt/rock named mountains. Continue to scan the sky looking for an object that resembles a bright star moving in an exact straight line. At 07:27:29 the space station will be at 10 degrees in the sky, location west, southwest (The horizon is 0 degrees and straight above your head is 90 degrees). At 07:30:18 the space station will be at maximum altitude at 66 degrees at a location roughly northwest. At 07:33:22 the space station will drop below 10 degrees at a location roughly northeast. Basically what you will want to do is look to the west, southwest at 7:25 am and look in this area for what looks like a star moving in a straight line from the west, southwest to the northeast. !!!!!!!!!WARNING!!!!!!! Remember to be very punctual.

If you do not view this pass there will be many more to enjoy (If you want just ask me for information on how and when to view these events in your location). This one is just going to be relatively bright. My favorite passes are the ones when the space shuttle are near docking or have just released and are in close proximity to the station. These are interesting because you view two objects moving across the sky in concert with one another. And you are in luck. Th e next Shuttle mission will be STS-126 to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for November 14th.

As I view these passes I like to remember that you are watching a man-made object with humans aboard flying around our Earth with only gravity moving them, nor form of propulsion. The only thing better than watching them pass overhead would be to see the view from their vantage point in space, watching the beautiful creation of Earth pass below. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mara and flowers

Mara and I went out on a date last Friday. We went to a large field of wild sunflowers and took some pictures. She loved spending time looking for the perfect place to take pictures. She would tell me that she did not like a certain spot and wanted to move locations. After spending about an hour taking pictures we went to McDonald's and she received a toy from The Wizard of Oz. She really liked just being with her dad, but I think her dad enjoyed this much more than her. Sorry I did not tie anything to earth science to this blog. Well, we were on a large alluvial fan, sorry I could not resist.

Kenyon and the Giant Short-face Bear cave

Kenyon and I continued the date day with each one of the kids on Fridays. Kenyon wanted to hike up a small mountain to go into a small cave, a small increase of around 300 feet. He informed me that he thought this was a cave where the now extinct giant short-faced bear. We hiked up this hill and we found a chair along the trail. Kenyon really thought this was funny. Along the way we hiked through blooming sagebrush and Kenyon informed me that mammoths consumed yellow grass. He knows anything and everything about dinosaurs, animals and anything that is now extinct The last 50 feet or so up to the cave was very steep and full of small lose rocks. At this time he wanted to return back to the car, but I encouraged him to make it to the cave. We made it and he really enjoyed it. On the way back he was able to see a jackrabbit, lizard, and many large spiders (duh! spiders, we were in Saratoga Springs). Kenyon let me know that it was hard work climbing mountains. I am glad that he stuck to it. Kenyon also informed me that he noticed Utah Lake was big and he also said it was long too. He is correct. Utah Lake is around 5-8 miles across the east-west axis and around 22-26 miles long across the north-south axis depending on the year and amount of evaporation and precipitation. We really enjoyed out time together. By the way, we were below the old Lake Bonneville shoreline.