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Blog Housekeeping

Blogging Break

I’ll be taking a break this week, up through next Monday, while doing some traveling with the family. With any luck, we’ll see the total eclipse a week from now, unless the usual amateur astronomer’s luck is working, in which case we’ll see hail the size of canned hams coming down instead. So there’s that to look forward to.

Blogging topics will pile up until then; I’ll keep a list and work through it in order of inspiration. If there are any humungous events this week, I’ll come out of vacation mode, but otherwise, I’ll see everyone in a week!

Update: yes, I just saw the President’s comment on Twitter about Merck and Ken Frazier. My feelings about Trump are on record. The experience of having him in office have only strengthened my views. I also have come to believe that reacting to every his every splenetic blast will shorten my life, while simultaneously making it feel far longer (and not in a good way). So I’m letting this one go past. I’m on vacation, dang it all.

42 comments on “Blogging Break”

  1. Some idiot says:

    Enjoy the ham!


    And hopefully some good viewing…

    1. Anon says:

      Let’s hope the eclipse is caused by the moon rather than a mushroom cloud.

      1. oldnuke says:

        I don;t know, it used to be a lot of fun doing underground tests and rattling the windows in Las Vegas. 🙂

  2. anon the II says:

    I saw the eclipse of March 7, 1970 ( It came across the east coast and main street in my hometown was about 14 miles from the center line. We got about 2m 50sec of totality. It was very cool. So I’m wondering if you’re an anomaly or if everybody in Boston (and NYC, etc) is going to be driving down I-95 and US-17 to try and see this thing. Is this going to be the traffic jam of the century? I’m trying to gauge how early I need to leave in the morning from Sunset Beach, NC.

    1. Poinsy says:

      I’m planning much the same route as you (flying into Myrtle Beach the day of), so don’t jinx anything!

      xkcd is pretty wary of a carmageddon, though:

    2. Derek Lowe says:

      I remember that one, too – projected the partial eclipse in Arkansas through my new Sears refractor.

      1. Komm says:

        Oh wow, I didn’t know you were into astronomy too. Makes me love your stuff even more than I already do! Just don’t bring any canned ham hail to Carbondale. D:

        1. Derek Lowe says:

          Hey, if you just stay put in Carbondale, you’ll get the next US total eclipse, too, in 7 years. . .

          1. Parker Huellmantel says:

            Nah, the next US total solar eclipse is much closer to home… Toledo is only an hour or two away. This 8 hour road trip is gonna kill me! Although… Maybe I’ll have to go to Tahiti for the 2019 eclipse.

    3. anon the II says:

      Caught the eclipse in Kingstree, SC. Really cool! No traffic going. Very busy on I-95 going back to the triangle but tolerable. Glad we went. Well worth it.

  3. chelator says:

    Vacation immediately after beginning a new job is a bold move!

    1. Hap says:

      Having money to go on vacation, though, is kind of helpful, and Dr. Lowe probably has seniority to get enough vacation time to be able to take some this year and a job that actually pays enough to take one. Being unemployed is probably kind of stressful, and you can’t really take vacations then so this is probably the appropriate time (the kids are not in school). Waiting for our dear leader to be sane to take a vacation is…not a good idea.

    2. Derek Lowe says:

      True, but this trip was planned before I knew I’d be in a new job by the time it arrived!

      1. Anon says:

        Not to mention the fact that looking for a job *is* a full-time job – but without the holiday entitlement. Speaking from experience.

  4. Doug Steinman says:

    Saw the eclipse in 1969 from UI Champaign. Chicago will have 87% this time. Looking for eclipse viewing glasses. Built a shoe box viewer last time.

    1. AstroGeo says:

      Careful looking for eclipse glasses now. Lotta shady people trying to pass off unsafe filters on unsuspecting viewers. Try to make sure you’re buying from a reputable source (I like Lunt Solar Systems, personally), but expect a very, very backlogged order.

  5. Curious Wavefunction says:

    Bummed out that I’ll be out of the country during the glorious moment. The next one will in 2024 and will dim the sky in Canada. I plan to see it, since the one after that is in 2070, and given how political events are progressing right now (think wolves coming to strangle us…), I’m not sure I’ll be around then.

  6. Pennpenn says:

    May the Gods of Astronomy ward you from ham-can hail!

    I hope you have a good break!

  7. Anonymous says:

    In the absence of a chemistry topic, I’ll just mention that David E. H. Jones, better known as Daedalus, passed away a couple of weeks ago at the age of 79.

    I was fortunate to have started reading his columns in New Scientist when I was an undergrad and then in Nature. Lots a fun and very thought provoking. Clearly, chemistry is more than just chemistry. He described closed carbon spheroids in 1966, long before the discovery of fullerenes (although HP Schultz had mentioned the possibility in 1965 in JOC).

    I wish that I had been able to land a job at Dreadco. Instead, I ended up at a dreaded-co.

    If Daedalus was still with us, I wonder if he could safely fly closer to the sun with his waxed wings during an eclipse. Keep a lookout for Daedalus during the eclipse!

    1. Diver Dude says:

      I think Daedalus would be fine – it’s Icarus I’m worried about 🙂

      I, too, was a huge fan of Daedalus and read his work in the New Scientist and (later) Nature avidly. A true polymath and his two books of collected works are deeply thought provoking even now.

      I saw the 1996 partial eclipse in the UK and it was a very spooky experience indeed.

    2. Wavefunction says:

      Jones was a complete riot and he will be missed. The NYT obit says he came up with ideas for a nuclear-powered pogo stick and a black hole garbage disposal appliance.

  8. Cymantrene says:

    Hope you wont’t have clouds. I’ve seen a full eclipse in 1999, and small cumuli really disappeared at start of eclipse due to ceasing thermals in cooled down air.

  9. AstroGeo says:

    Well, me and some friends have personally ensured that the whole of our state will be blanketed in storms the like we’ve never seen nor will again. We’re trying to send up a high-altitude balloon with a ton of cameras on it during the eclipse, not to mention hosting out-of-state guests.

    1. Some idiot says:

      That should just about do it…


      Good luck!!! 🙂

      1. AstroGeo says:

        Could be worse – we could have bought a nice H-α telescope. Then we’d see stuff more like when the containment unit was opened in Ghostbusters. Cats and dogs living together, etc. etc.

        Oh wait. That’ll probably happen anyways as the interstates (and all the other roads) become parking lots. Hoo boy, I don’t envy the DOT’s job on the 21st.

    2. Anon says:

      “will be blanketed in storms the like we’ve never seen nor will again”

      Is that you Donald?

      1. AstroGeo says:

        It’s gonna be YUUUUGE, trust me.

        … God, I just made a proper Donald statement. Somebody kill me now, before it gets worse.

  10. Jb says:

    YUGE payout for J&J – jury awards an individual $417m over a claim that talc powder is linked with cancer.

  11. Nick K says:

    I saw the total eclipse in Northern France in 1999, and the experience will live with me forever. The whole autoroute (freeway) came to halt as people stopped their cars to watch. The solar corona, in pale pastel blues, greens and pinks, is beautiful beyond words.

  12. Big Man says:

    Coolest theortetical astronomical event: Sun swap. Total solar eclipse during major closeby supernova. The world is lit by a different sun. Plants, not calabrated to the spectrum change, shrivel and die.

  13. Big Man says:

    Current system: giving idea generators absolute job security (tenured profs ) and the idea testers ( grad students, postdocs, staff, etc. ) none. What could go wrong????

  14. jbosch says:

    This was my second total eclipse. Great blue sky about 20 miles west of Hopkinsville Kentucky. Hope that you were lucky too with the skies Derek.

    1. Derek Lowe says:

      We did see it, but it was close. There were hunks of cumulus cloud starting to fill the sky, but totality happened in a gap. If the eclipse had been a few minutes later, we would have been in trouble – clouds filled in over the sun within a minute after the end of totality! A great experience; we’re already planning for 2024.

      1. gippgig says:

        An eclipse may cause cumulus clouds to dissipate – see

        1. Derek Lowe says:

          Interesting – so maybe the eclipse itself slowed down the cloud formation nearby, and it began to pick back up afterwards? I hadn’t considered that possibility, but if that’s what gave us a view during the 2+ minutes we needed it, it’s fine by me!

          1. Pennpenn says:

            Wish there was one happening over where I’m living at some point in the foreseeable future. I’d love to see a total eclipse at some point in my life, just can’t really justify the trip for that alone.

          2. Cymantrene says:

            That was exactly what i experienced in 1999. There were some small cumuli, but at the first part of eclipse they dissolved. First just rounded and smoothed, like in the evening when the thermals cease, then evaporated.

          3. Nick K says:

            Did you take any photos of the eclipse? If so, I’m sure everyone on the Pipeline would love to see them.

          4. Derek Lowe says:

            No photos, actually. Since this was my first total eclipse, I decided to not try to take photos, but rather observe as much as I could during totality. Maybe in 2024!

  15. jbosch says:

    You are welcome to camp in my yard Derek in 2024, assuming we don’t have a foot of snow in Cleveland.

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