Raise a glass tonight for Pluto

Non-planet Pluto

Nearly actual size I think

Pluto has been through a lot and now it seems the small icy ball near the middle of our solar system just got that last kick in the ahem, ice-ball. Pluto is no longer a planet, as of today. I say you should raise a toast to Pluto tonight and this weekend in recognition of all it ihas done for us. No one is talking about it, but have they thought about what this means for poor, Charon, Plutos moon. Charon has probably been demoted to dust bunny. Pluto could not be reached for comment, most likely because it is 3,720,000,000 miles away.

Warm November showers

I woke up at 2:30 this morning, drove an hour out of the Twin Cities, climbed onto the roof of our 4Runner, and pulled a bunch of blankets over my wife and I to get a great view of an event that won’t be back until 2099. The Leonid Meteor Shower did not disappoint. I didn’t try to count the number of meteors hitting the atmosphere but if I had the number would have been well into the hundreds. Some were so bright that we could see them flash even if they were behind us. (We actually thought someone was trying to use flash photography to capture them until we saw some of the brightest in front of us.)

At times 4-5 or more meteors would streak across the sky at a time, others would leave trails that would be visible for 15-20 seconds or more. It was truly an amazing show. I am just happy that we had such a clear, warm night here in Minnesota in November. And we only had to drive an hour to get rid of much of the light pollution surrounding the cities. When looking for dark skies the Internet pulled through again with a couple sites that helped out a lot: A Minnesota specific site that shows a nice color-coded map of the levels of light pollution around where I live and a more global site that attempts to do the same.

For more history on the Leonids Shower (which you can still see if you are living in parts of Asia right now) check out this article at the Sky and Telescope Magazine site.