Crystals Of The Night

Frost crystals top a coneflower earlier this morning after a chilly overnight. When surfaces are below freezing and colder than the dew point of the surrounding air, frost condenses on them as tiny grains and spikes of ice. Photo: Bob King / Duluth News Tribune Last night the temperature dropped to 23 degrees at my observing location,…
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Cool Moon, Hot Venus, Shiny Station

Everything is tempered by the brevity of our lifetime. The finite clock is the root of much sweetness and pleasure — like the better-get-out-and-enjoy-it feeling of a nice day in Duluth, only writ on a larger scale. In that spirit, consider going out during twilight tonight (Oct. 2) to find the newly-hatched crescent moon and Venus. They’re very low in…
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The Sun Draws A Blank

The sun on September 27 this year (left) shows a blank disk, typical of solar minimum. At right, the sun is peppered with sunspots back on the same date in 2001. PHOTOS: SOHO, NASA 200 days and counting. That’s how many days the sun’s been without sunspots this year. This is the highest number of blank suns…
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700 Billion Is A Lotta Stars

$700 billion dollars. We all know what that number means. It’s a figure that can truly be called astronomical. How might we come to understand how large a number 700 billion really is? The answer’s simple: think astronomically. 700 billion dollar bills, arranged end to end, would reach from Venus to the sun. Illustration: Bob King  Let’s…
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Drop In Anytime

The world in a drop of water. Close inspection of water drops on a twig in my neighborhood this morning reveal multiple images of lawn, trees and landscape. I flipped the image so you could better inspect the details. Each drop acts as a lens that focuses the scene in the background. Photo by Bob King / Duluth…
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