Wednesday, January 4, 2012


My three day weekend ends tonight. Over my weekend, I made a conscious effort to not obsess about our weather...It turns out I obsessively avoided digging into the forecasts, webcams, and remote sensors. The truth is, it was nearly impossible to avoid the seat-of-the-pants temperature observations while walking around town. Save for the low angle of the Sun, it could have been a warm April the afternoons anyway...

It wasn't easy avoiding the obvious...everywhere I went, total strangers couldn't wait to make weather small talk, or whine about our lack of snow...admittedly, I gave as good as I got...My Twitter stream and the TV Weather Reports trumpeted the record high temps, which the Reno AFD says will continue for another few days

My weekend wasn't short on diversions, there was some great College Football played in the various Bowl Games...the Rose Bowl was great, then faded into the background noise floor as the Fiesta Bowl went into overtime! Whatta heartbreaker for Stanford's place kicker...Ouch!

Though temps were balmy, the night time skies were problematical for astronomical observations as clouds associated with the cold fronts that didn't visit screwed up the seeing every night save for Tuesday morning.

I was up for the Armstrong and Getty Radio Show (their first day back from two weeks of Christmas Vacation) and surfing the Web for something new on Russia's Phobos/Grunt. Waddya know, a visible pass was minutes away! I popped up and threw open the front door...nothing but stars above! I pulled on some sweats and a long sleeve T-shirt and shoes, grabbed a AA Maglite, and my compass, and hit the streets.

I walked down the street a hundred yards to the neighbor's driveway where the trees didn't obscure the Southwest sky. A minute and a half later I found Phobos/Grunt speeding overhead. 71 degrees above the horizon, she was stable, and her reflected light showed no variation, she's not tumbling. Phobos/Grunt came over at Magnitude 1.3, and traveled to the SSE where she disappeared into the morning twilight. 

By most accounts, Phobos/Grunt has about ten days left in orbit. I'll fire up CorduroyPlanet's Phobos/GruntWatch next week, or when reentry looks eminent...Stay tuned!

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