Post 6: Yoga While Waiting for a Comet

Tree Pose_MG_1591On Tuesday (11 Mar 2013) we made our first attempt to see and photograph comet PAN-STARRS, an ancillary mission to the prime one of photographing the northern lights.  We were hearing from friends and relatives further south how the comet’s subtle loveliness appeared to them in the western sky just after sunset. We learned the hard and cold way how the long arctic twilight (due to the Sun setting at such a low angle) can inhibit near-horizon comet searches.

The dusky light you see in the sky of the photo above lasted until about 9:30 pm, when we finally gave up our attempt to catch sight of the comet’s tail. To pass the time and keep a bit warmer during our “comet watch” we tried some yoga poses in cold-weather clothing.

The bulk of the layers you see on me in tree pose (in red parka above) are still nowhere near the thickness of layers we wear when out for the night to photograph the aurora. It became so cold so rapidly after the Sun disappeared behind the horizon that we were wishing for more of those layers,  including our balaclavas (face masks) and arctic boots.

Cherilynn headstand_MG_1607Will headstand_MG_1605Duke and I froze our toes in our insulated winter boots, but Will had wisely chosen to wear his arctic boots to the comet hunt. Such boots are MUCH heavier and more thickly insulated, and while they are good for warm toes, they are perhaps not so good for ease of balance in a headstand. Physics students, consider the enhanced torque caused by the weight of Mr. Stoll’s boots as he extends his feet in the air.  Given the image you see of him (in the black and gray), which direction do you predict he will be rotating?

Later on Tuesday evening (11-12 Mar 2013), Duke made an attempt to record a set of images that could be stitched together in a panorama.  He completed the stitching process today as we worked in the Bayside B&B guest lounge (Click on the image below to see the full-width results).  He also created a time lapse of some photos made with a fish-eye lens.  Stay tuned for this in the next blog post.

Aurora_5537 Panorama small Marsha CR

The Bayside lounge where we have been working this afternoon has big windows overlooking the vast expanse of the frozen Great Slave Lake. As we worked, our attention was occasionally drawn outward to see a ski plane land, a skimobile cruise by, or just a moment ago, a young person in a fur-trimmed parka glided by on what looked like the back of a dog sled with a double-ski’ed structure, but was being self-propelled as if the rider were on a scooter or skate board.  A gleefully barking black labrador was running full tilt out front and alongside the sled/scooter and this signaled us to pull our heads out of our computers. When the northern lights are bright, the owners at the Bayside say you can see them from the deck.

Now it is time to find dinner and get ready for tonight. The weather is clear skies, and based on information from these websites [http://spaceweather.com, http://auroraforecast.com, http://astronomynorth.com/aurora-forecast/],  it is entirely possible that tonight and tomorrow night will be the best auroral activity experienced on this expedition!

To document it,  we will have to manage the cold, and more importantly the wind chill factor!  The weak aurora and severe wind chill caused us to retreat early last night (Wed 13 Mar 2013) without making any more images.

It’s my experience that arctic cold works a bit like water.  If I expose an open cuff or muff to the cold, it is like a water leak, with arctic air flowing in and almost instantly cooling me in a way that is challenging to recover from without  doing something physical to generate additional body heat.

Comet_MG_7067Hey hey! Duke just sent me our image of the comet from the Bush Pilot monument in town (Yellowknife) last night.  The comet was NOT visible to the naked eye, but the masterful Duke found it by zooming into the right part of the sky relative to the new crescent moon.  Click into the image to enlarge it and see if you can find the comet yourself!

Oh, by the way, while comet hunting last night to get the above image, we read about the amazing bush pilots who pioneered these parts many decades ago, but we did NOT do any yoga poses on this particular outing.

Wish us warmth!  On we go!

StarMind Blues Song-Video

Chaos at the Heart of Orion - NASACelebrate Your Cosmic Creativity!  Enjoy this blues song and cosmic slide show by astronomy educator and singer-songwriter, Dr. Cherilynn Morrow. The music was recorded with Alan Dynin on piano at Ken Gregory Studios in Atlanta, GA. StarMind Blues is higher consciousness parody of Cherilynn’s original song, StarMan Blues. It was created in honor of  Continue reading

Astronomer – Solstice Meditation

Artist Concept - Arctic Crescent

Artist Concept – Arctic Crescent

I enjoyed serving as a guest presenter about the astronomy of the December solstice for the Global Solstice Meditation 2012 at the Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta (SLCA). My presentation was preceded by Rev. Dr. David Ault (SLCA Senior Minister), who spoke on the topic of Heaven on Earth, and followed by Continue reading

AstroJazz in the Kirtan Spirit!

AstroJazz - DHA bannerDon’t miss this awe-inspiring event!  AstroJazz in the Kirtan Spirit at the Decatur Healing Arts Center in GA.  Continue reading

Art as Worship Interview

Art as Worship Banner

Art as Worship is a weekly, Internet-based radio show that features stories of artists and explores their process of creation. Show host, Vanessa Lowry, interviewed me about inventing AstroJazz and we Continue reading

The 2012 Venus Transit from the Summit of Mauna Kea – HAWAII

Feminine Rising on Maunakea (1)This photo by Ron Bland was made atop a 14,000-ft volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii just after a 7-hour NASA webcast of the 2012 Venus Transit of the Sun. Cherilynn (rising at left with buttocks eclipsing the Sun of the glorious sunset) served as a science commentator, science educator, and singer in support of the webcast. The extraordinary teamwork and mutual support on the summit among the scientists, educators, and webcast crew (NASA EDGE) gives us all reason to hope for humanity.  Everyone contributed in deference to bringing to the world the best possible program to honor this rare and remarkable celestial event. The other three silhouettes are of young women who also supported the outreach activities. When I saw the beautiful photo I named it Feminine Rising in the spirit of the occasion, and I knew that I would write a song by that name, perhaps even with this photo on an album cover!