Saturday, March 21, 2015

Winter Weather Notes for the End of February / First Week of March

  This has been an unusual Winter, as far as snowfall. I've written this before, but things got a lot stranger right at the end!

  Between November 1st through February 15th, total snow accumulation for Indianapolis was just 8.8 inches. The most snow cover we'd had on the ground at once was about 2.5" and this had happened in the middle of November during a rare early snowstorm. There had been almost no snow at all during December. All through January and the first half of February we had small snow events that put 2" to 1" or less snow amounts on the ground (usually less than 1"). Few of these snow covers lasted more than a few days.

  Then from February 16th through March 1st; just 13 days time, we received a total of 16.7" of snow ... nearly twice as much as we'd had in the previous 107 days! There were small snow events from Monday the 16th through Wednesday the 18th that put 2" of accumulation down, followed by bitterly cold air. Then our first really serious snowstorm of the season arrived on Saturday, February 21st (see previous entry). This gave us just short of 6" in less than a day, and at least 7" of snow cover total.

  The last week of February itself was colder than normal with some minor snow systems. By Saturday the 28th we still had about 4" - 5" on the ground. But starting on the evening of the 28th through much of Sunday, March 1st, an even more potent late snowstorm passed slowly through the area and put down nearly 8" of new snow. We now had a foot or more on the ground! Here are photos I snapped that morning; two from the front yard and two from the back patio.

  The only good thing about this biggest winter storm was that since, this time, we'd received over 6" of snowfall, the city actually mobilized their private contractors to plow subdivisions like ours. Though our neighborhood streets were nearly impassable for most of Sunday the 1st, they were plowed by sunset. They were still snow covered, but they were drivable.

  Monday March 2nd was a mostly sunny day that got above the freezing point, so there was a little snow melt during the day. Then two more systems moved through on Tuesday the 3rd and Wednesday the 4th that made things a little strange. Both were southern systems. On the 3rd we started out with some nasty freezing rain in the morning through noon, but during the afternoon the air warmed enough for precipitation to turn to light regular rain and dense fog. After this system moved out, there was a major snowstorm that passed just south of Indianapolis and ended up bringing us hardly any snow, thankfully. Parts of Kentucky had over a foot of it, and counties close to the Ohio River also received several inches.

  There was one last big surge of Arctic air on Thursday the 5th and Friday the 6th. Low temperatures on both days were in the single digits °F while high temperatures stayed below freezing. The up-and-down weather had reduced our snow cover to about 5" - 6" by Saturday the 7th.

  Looking back, I'm going to think of Saturday, March 7th as the start of what became a much needed Spring Thaw. We reached 42°F on a sunny afternoon, and the snow and ice melt accelerated. I spent much of Saturday afternoon clearing snow and ice from most of the patio, hoping to get some Lunar Observing and Photography in after nightfall. Just to compare how everything looked six days after the first batch of photos, here are some I took on Saturday afternoon the 7th from the back yard. (Note: The cover on the grill looks beat up mainly due to hail storms last May!)

  There was much better spring-like weather to come as March really got underway! In hindsight, it looks like the last two weeks of February and the first days of March were Winter's Big Last Blast!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday February 21, 2015 - Winter Weather Notes and an Evening Grouping of Venus, Mars, and the Waxing Crescent Moon

  This has not only been a tough time of year to get out to do some observing, it's been difficult to even work up the motivation to observe. Cold air, bitter wind chills, and snow all over my back porch always sap my enthusiasm to carry the telescope outside, get it assembled, and shiver while standing and staring through the eyepiece. It's especially tough on my hands; I've never figured out how to change eyepieces, work the telescope's control paddle, and take notes while wearing gloves. Usually my fingers get numb and painful within fifteen minutes of exposure, and I'm usually retreating back inside to warm up after just half an hour. Winter skies have some of the best targets and the season often features the darkest and most transparent conditions, but it also gives me the worst environment for doing amateur astronomy.

  Last winter (2013-2014) was a horrible one. It had the worst cold snaps in twenty years and the heaviest snow accumulation in thirty years! I did very little observing then. For obvious reasons!

  This winter things have been a lot different. We've definitely had some long, harsh cold snaps (with some big thaws here and there) but what was amazing, at least up to February, was the lack of snow. The most accumulation we had on the ground was 2.5" in mid-November. That was gone in days. We had some very minor "dustings" of snow cover in late November all the way through December. On January 5th and 6th we had a 2" snowfall that stayed on the ground, then more minor snowfalls through the rest of that month. There was slightly worse weather in February, with several 1" to 1.5" snowfalls scattered through the month. And, as I mentioned, we've had several surges of very cold Arctic air in those months.

  This past week has been the harshest of all for the winter. On Monday the 16th we ended up on the edge of a southern winter storm system which ended up giving us about 1.5" of snow all over the ground. This was followed by a strong, windy blast of cold air that was preceded by another inch of snowfall Tuesday evening the 17th through Wednesday morning the 18th. Wind chills in Indianapolis went below zero°F from the daylight hours of Wednesday and stayed there through Friday afternoon the 20th. We had issues with blowing and drifting snow, especially on Wednesday. It was brutal!

  (I should write here that New Moon occurred at 6:47 PM EST on Wednesday February 18th.)

  By Friday the 20th things looked like they were improving. The latest "polar vortex" had moved on and south winds had temperatures climbing back into the teens°F by afternoon. But we were under a Winter Storm Warning by afternoon, with another southern system expected to clobber us Saturday. Anywhere from 4" - 7" of accumulation was expected in Indianapolis. 2" or so of snow cover still remained on the ground.

  There were some light flurries on Friday evening the 19th. At midnight, as Saturday began, the snow started falling steadily, from big wet flakes to smaller pellets. There was an extra inch on the ground by 1:30 AM and at least 2" of new snow everywhere by 3:00 AM. Winds were light and the temperature was rising all night. At midnight we'd been at 16°F with a wind chill of 6°F but by sunrise (at 7:29 AM) we were at 21°F without much of a wind chill. Snow kept falling in bands throughout this morning and finally tapered off by about 2:00 PM. From what I can see, the south side of Indianapolis received about 5" of new snow from this system, and we ended up with 7" on the ground total including the accumulation we'd had from the systems earlier this week. This was how the front yard and driveway looked by 2:00 PM today. This wasn't a big storm by last winter's standards, but it was by far the storm with the heaviest snowfall we'd had this winter.

  Sunshine started to break out on Saturday afternoon, and winds stayed light. By afternoon we crept above the freezing point for the first time in nine days (since the evening of Wednesday February 11) and peaked at 35°F by 4:00 PM. It was actually a pleasant feeling afternoon after being in the deep freeze for over a week! Clouds started moving in again by dusk and temperatures started falling. By midnight, under overcast skies, we were down to 20°F with calm winds. I'd spent the day shoveling and sweeping the front sidewalk and driveway, and clearing the snow from the Civic. Here's how things looked by about 5:00 PM.

  Overcast skies on Friday night the 20th had spoiled my view of a close grouping of the Waxing Crescent Moon, Venus, and Mars. However, on Saturday evening the 21st the sky at dusk was clear enough to see all three of these objects in a slightly different arrangement.At 6:45 PM (about 18 minutes after sunset) I stepped out the back door with the 7x50 binoculars to have a look. The Moon was a thin bright fingernail shape just three days past New Moon, with Earthshine clearly visible on the unlit part. It was about 13 degrees above Venus, which was easy to see with the naked eye even as sunset had been happening. Using the binoculars first, then with the naked eye, I could see much dimmer Mars extremely close to the upper right of Venus (just 26' away, or less than half a degree!) I made a rough sketch of how they all looked this evening and included it below.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Saturday, January 3 - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - Clouded out for the Quadrantid peak

  By midnight as Saturday the 3rd began, the peak of the Quadrantids was less than 24 hours away (since the IMO was predicting it for 9:00 PM EST January 3, or 2:00 UT January 4). As expected, conditions in my area made observing anything impossible. There was such a thick cloud overcast that not even the bright Waxing Gibbous Moon could be seen. By 1:00 AM light rain showers moved in, and rain and drizzle continued for the next few hours. Temperatures remained just above the freezing point, so by 4:00 AM I saw no sign of freezing rain, sleet, or snow. I also noticed that the National Weather Service had removed the Winter Weather Advisory from counties just to our north, though it remained in place for the northern third of Indiana.

  By sunrise (8:06 AM) we'd climbed to 35°F, and temperatures kept climbing all day long. At the same time, bands of rain kept moving through all during the daylight hours and winds were light to moderate. At sunset (5:32 PM) we'd reached an unreal 52°F. It was a gloomy, wet, and muddy day, but at least the air felt springlike! I should also mention that the Air Pressure fell from 30.18" near the start of the day to 29.73" by 5:00 PM as the center of this low pressure system passed, then started to recover a little after dark.

  After dark on the 3rd, the back edge of this big system with the cold front started to work its way into the area. The main line of rain had moved on, but smaller bands started to enter Indianapolis by midnight. Winds also started to pick up. At midnight we were back down to 44°F with a wind chill a few degrees colder.

  The best time for me to observe the short, sharp-peaking Quadrantid Meteor Shower would have been from midnight to dawn on Sunday the 4th. The display would have been winding down by that time, but I'm sure I still could have seen several. But the weather just didn't cooperate at all. For hours after midnight we had periods of light rain and drizzle along with mist and fog, then maybe some broken clouds around 4:00 AM - 5:00 AM, but definitely overcast skies from dawn through sunrise (at 8:06 AM again). Winds became strong and gusty. By sunrise we'd dropped to 34°F but wind chills were in the low 20's°F range. The Pressure fell back to 29.73" between 3:00 AM - 5:00 AM before starting to rise again.

  After daybreak on Sunday, things didn't improve much. The sky stayed gloomy and overcast and we had some brief periods of light drizzle and light rain. Winds remained strong and gusty. By 10:00 AM we'd dropped to the freezing point, and by Noon we were down to 31°F with a wind chill of 20°F. By 1:00 PM a mix of rain, sleet, and snow pellets starting falling; the gusty winds made the ice bits "ping" against the windows. As the afternoon went on this changed to bigger flakes of snow whipped by the wind, and it fell hard enough to whiten the grass. This was the first real coating of snow I'd seen in over 2 weeks, and it was also the first measurable snow of 2015.

  Sunset on Sunday was at 5:33 PM. By dusk it was still windy with light snow falling. Roads were starting to get slick with ice patches here and there. The snow tapered off later in the evening, but it remained overcast, windy, and cold through midnight. By midnight it was 12°F with the wind out of the west at 18 mph giving us a wind chill of -5°F. (Wind gusts at midnight were still as high as 29 mph!)

  Full Moon occurred at 11:53 PM EST on Sunday the 4th (4:53 UT January 5). There may have been a few fast-moving "holes" in the overcast by midnight, but it was too cloudy to even get a decent naked-eye look at the Moon.

  And that was how this year's Quadrantid Meteor Shower went for me this year. As I've written, it would have been a difficult shower to observe anyway because of bright moonlight interference, but in the end it didn't matter since the big weather system interfered anyway! The next major annual meteor shower was over three months away; so this part of my amateur astronomy hobby was over for a while!

Catch-Up Notes - PM Sunday, December 28, 2014 - Binocular Observation of Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2

  I'd been reading about Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 online since at least November 2014. This was the fifth discovery of Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy, who had found it in August in the southern constellation Puppis on wide-field images that he'd taken with an 8" telescope. At the time of discovery, the comet was at a faint 15th magnitude. However, it was expected to become a fine binocular object (and perhaps a faint naked eye object) by the end of December throughout January, and possibly beyond, as it slowly crossed into northern skies. I downloaded a couple of finder charts for it from the Sky and Telescope magazine website in early December, and thought I might be able to spot it in southern skies below Orion by Christmastime.

  My first chance to see it, with clear evening skies, and the comet placed high enough above the southern horizon, was on Sunday evening December 28th. Sunset that day took place at 5:27 PM (we'd already gained 11 minutes of daylight since the earliest sunsets that ended on December 13th). Sunrise the next day would occur at 8:05 AM (it would happen at 8:06 AM from December 31st - January 9th). The Moon was just about four hours past First Quarter at sunset, in central Pisces. (First Quarter Moon had occurred at 1:31 PM EST that afternoon.)

  During the day on Sunday, I wasn't really expecting to get a look at Comet Lovejoy or anything else. All day long we'd had a layer of thick clouds in place, left over after light rain and drizzle before dawn. We'd spent the daylight hours a few degrees below the freezing point with wind chills in the low 20's°F range. By sunset we were at 29°F and there was still no sign of clearing skies.

  By 9:00 PM (2:00 UT Dec. 29) the NWS Website was reporting broken clouds and even mostly clear skies, but every time I looked outside all I saw was the just-past-First Quarter Moon shining through a thick veil of clouds. By that time we were down to 25°F with almost no wind chill. However, when I looked outside at 10:30 PM (3:30 UT Dec. 29) I saw that the sky had cleared out a lot, with a few stray clouds that seemed to be scudding off to the south.

  By 11:00 PM (4:00 UT Dec. 29) I put on my old tennis shoes and my winter coat, and put the 16x50 binoculars around my neck. I walked out past the back yard and through the gate to the easement by Feather Run, to get a good view of the southern sky. The ground was still a little muddy but the grass in the easement, which was all bent over into piles and frost-covered, crunched under my shoes. There was still a lot of moonlight around from the Moon, which was still fairly high up in the West-Southwest.

  I was sure of the position of the comet from the charts I'd downloaded, in Lepus. I'd had some careful looks at them before going outside. I used the Moon to focus the binoculars carefully. I also got a few good looks at M-42 (the Great Orion Nebula) before lowering the binoculars to the south.

  Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 was easy to find using the 16x50 binoculars! It was clearly a smudge of light; a glow maybe 10' in diameter, just a degree or so east of the 5th magnitude star HIP 25045. It was also very close to the globular cluster M-79, though I can't write for sure that I was able to spot this Messier object. After taking a lot of long looks at this comet, I went back inside the house. I printed out a chart from my Starry Nights planetarium program on the computer and drew the rough appearance and location of the comet on it. This is it below:

    Through the predawn hours it remained mostly clear outside with just a few high clouds here and there. I thought about staying up to do some meteor observing, but we were still pretty far from the peak of the Quadrantid Meteor Shower and I just wasn't prepared to sit out and freeze with little chance of reward. By 3:00 AM it was 22°F with a wind chill of 15°F. I hoped for clearer and at least slightly milder nights soon.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015 - Still Hoping to see the Quadrantid Meteor Shower

  Cloudy conditions persisted during the predawn hours of Friday January 2nd. By 4:00 AM the sheets of high clouds that I'd seen on Thursday evening through midnight had given way to big clumps of altocumulus drifting slowly by. Some breaks in those clouds let me see Arcturus and some of the brighter stars in Bootes and Ursa Major, but way too much of the sky was covered to do a decent meteor observing session. We were about 41 hours away from the predicted peak of the Quadrantids. Had it been clearer, some decent visual data might have been obtained! By 4:00 AM the temperature had fallen to 25°F and though winds from the southwest were lighter than they'd been earlier in the night, the wind chill was still 16°F. This turned out to be the low temperature for the night.

  Temperatures started to climb again even before sunrise (at 8:06 AM). By mid-morning we were above the freezing point, and we topped out at 39°F for an afternoon high. Winds were light for most of the day, but picked up a little after dark. It was a dry day, but a bright overcast stayed in place that occasionally let filtered sunlight through. Sunset happened at 5:31 PM. Temperatures stayed above the freezing point after dark, but a thick overcast had settled in. By midnight there was light fog in the air and we were still at 34°F.

  That big low-pressure system I wrote about yesterday was still moving our way from the southwest on Friday, and radar images showed rain bands drifting toward us from Arkansas, Missouri, and southern Illinois all day long, but falling apart in the drier air still over Indiana. The first showers were supposed to reach us before dawn on Saturday, and forecasts still called for some of that precipitation to fall as freezing rain until turning to all rain after sunrise. Indiana counties just north of Marion County all the way to the Michigan border were under a Winter Weather Advisory from 3:00 AM - 9:00 AM on Saturday morning, with more of an icing threat from this same system.

Catch-Up Notes - AM Friday, December 26, 2014 - Meteor Observing and Possible Early Quadrantid

  My wife and I spent Christmas Day in Fort Wayne visiting her family. Christmas itself was a mostly cloudy but fairly mild day, with some very light rain in the morning and an afternoon high (in Indianapolis) of 41 F. The clouds started to break up in Fort Wayne not long after sunset, and by the time I went outside to warm up the car and start packing up the gifts, the sky was just amazingly clear. The Waxing Crescent Moon was shining in the Southwest sky, showing some bright Earthshine on its disk. To the East, the stars of Taurus and Orion were blazing away. While I was out there, I saw a fairly bright meteor shoot through the constellation of Cetus, seeming to originate near the Hyades in Taurus. It seemed like a great way to end Christmas 2014!

  Skies remained mostly clear throughout our drive back to the Indianapolis south side. After we'd dropped some passengers off in Greenwood and we were almost home, Adrian spotted a bright meteor zipping to the north which she described as bright as Jupiter. I didn't see it at all. Then, when we finally reached home, I went outside to the back yard to "supervise" our two little dogs after they'd been inside for over 12 hours. (I try to get out there with them after dark because of concerns like stray dogs and even coyotes wandering around the neighborhood at night.) While I was out there, I spotted yet another meteor that might have come from the Taurus area. Skies were crystal clear, the Moon had set, and I was starting to wonder if maybe some unusual meteor shower activity was going on! I decided to try and do a meteor watch, even though it was getting pretty cold out there!

  I did two sessions of meteor watching total during the predawn hours of December 26. I was lying in the lawn chair on the patio, about as bundled up as a person can get. I had on two sweatshirts over a t-shirt, my thick winter coat over that, two pairs of sweat pants, two pairs of socks under my shoes, my hat and gloves and the hood of one of the sweatshirts over my head, and I also had a pair of hand warmers in both pockets of the coat. I carried some BRNO Atlas charts outside with me, and I also had my digital voice recorder on hand so I could just record the information about any meteors spotted by voice. Each session lasted a little over an hour, and by the time I was done my hands and feet were numb and painful from lying out in that cold air. The temperature was about 30 F but there was a breeze that probably put wind chills in the low 20's F range.

  The first session lasted from 1:00 AM - 2:05 AM, and it was a frustrating one. In all that time outside I was only able to spot one faint Sporadic meteor. I'd seen two earlier that night without even trying, and after purposely staring at the sky, I saw nothing at all! I was facing south, looking high in the sky near Gamma Geminorum. The limiting magnitude was 5.3; about as good as it gets from my back yard!

  This is the plot of the Sporadic seen during that first session outside:

  I had a lot better luck during the second session. This one was from 3:00 AM - 4:05 AM, and I had turned the lawn chair to look high in the northeast this time, in the direction of the "bowl" of the Big Dipper, since a lot of current minor shower radiants were located in this area of the sky. During this time I was able to spot and plot a total of four meteors. Two of them were Sporadic and one very slow one (#2) was almost without a doubt a late member of the Ursid Shower, even though this shower had peaked four nights earlier. The brightest one of the night was also the most puzzling (#4). This one seemed to have a speed and a direction that identified it as a member of the Quadrantid Shower. However, all of the sources I'd read told me that Quadrantid meteors weren't visible until December 28 at the earliest. Had I really seen one two nights before the "official" start of this shower?

  These are the plots of the last four meteors seen tonight on the BRNO Atlas pages:

  By the end of the second session, high thin cirrus clouds started to drift over the sky from the north and west, so I gave up doing any other meteor watching. (I was shivering by now anyway in that frosty air!)

  I posted the question about whether or not I'd actually seen an early Quadrantid meteor to the Yahoo Meteor Observing Board on the 26th, and generally the comments from experienced observers on that message board were negative. Most replies told me that it was probably a Sporadic that just by chance happened to be in the right area at the right apparent speed. Still, I'm not totally ready to just dismiss this one as a random meteor instead of a Quadrantid! Maybe time will tell.

  The Ursid meteor seen tonight was the first one I'd ever seen!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015 - Hoping to see the Quadrantid Meteor Shower

  A strong Arctic high pressure system had settled over Indiana during the last few days of December, but the center of this system had started to slide east and bring us wind and clouds from the Southwest by the 31st. When midnight struck and we rang in 2015, the night sky was mostly clear with a few scattered high clouds and bright moonlight from the Waxing Gibbous Moon on the Aries / Taurus border. It was also 19°F with a steady moderate breeze that gave us a wind chill of 9°F. I'd thought about getting outside during the predawn hours of New Year's Day to try and see some early Quadrantid meteors, but the frigid air already took away my enthusiasm, and as the night went on more and more of the sky became cloud covered. By 3:00 AM the Moon was veiled by clouds and surrounded by a glow. Stars dimmer than 2nd magnitude were difficult to see. The conditions prevented any meteor watch.

  Sunrise on January 1 happened at 8:06 AM. This is the time of the latest sunrises of the year (Dec. 31 - Jan. 13). Thursday the 1st wasn't a bad day at all, to start January. It was mostly sunny with a lot of thin high clouds, plus some thicker altostratus by late afternoon. The high temperature reached 34°F but we couldn't get rid of that steady, moderate wind, so the wind chills made it feel 10° - 15° colder. There was no snow cover anywhere (Indianapolis had just finished one of the most snow-less Decembers on record). The ground didn't feel like frozen concrete today, like it had on Wednesday.

  Sunset happened at 5:31 PM. (Sunsets have been coming later since Dec. 1 - Dec. 13, when they occurred at 5:20 PM.) Skies remained full of high clouds after dark. The Moon (this time a brighter Waxing Gibbous in Taurus) had a bright ring around it by the time it was highest in the sky during late evening. Unfortunately it looked like these clouds would be with us throughout the night. Satellite images showed them streaming up from weather systems that were bringing rain and some wintry weather to Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and this was slowly making its way toward the Ohio Valley.

  My priority as the new year starts is observing the annual Quadrantid Meteor Shower. This has always been a tricky one to watch. It's one of the best shows of the year; right up there with (and sometimes exceeding) the Perseid Shower in August and the Geminid Shower in December. What makes it tough is that it happens during a time of the year where clear skies and comfortable conditions are hard to come by, very early in January. And though the shower lasts for about a week and a half, from December 28 - January 7, the shower has a sharp rise and fall in activity that lasts only about 12 hours around January 3-4. Very few Quadrantids can be seen before or after that half-day surge!

  In 30+ years of amateur astronomy, I've only managed to catch one decent viewing of the Quadrantids. This was before dawn on Saturday, January 3, 2009 ... 6 years ago. I was able to see 13 meteors that morning; 9 of them in just half an hour of constant watching from my back porch, including one that was at least as bright as Jupiter and had a long-lasting, glowing train! The drawing below is one that I made that night in my journal showing the rough paths of these meteors against the constellations. I also shaded out the areas of the sky that were blocked from my view that night.

  This year, the Quadrantid Shower is supposed to be at peak at roughly 2h Universal Time on January 4, which is about 9:00 PM EST on the evening of Saturday, January 3 my time. From my location, the radiant of the shower (extreme northern Bootes) will actually still be below the horizon, so nothing much can be seen on Saturday evening. European observers will probably have the best prospects for seeing anything. The radiant will clear the horizon here around midnight. I figure that the strongest peak of the shower should end roughly between about 4:00 AM - 5:00 AM on Sunday morning, January 4. The morning of the 4th should be the "prime time" to try and observe it, in other words, with just some stray meteors possible on the mornings just before and after that date.

  However, there's another issue with observing the Quadrantids this year. There's going to be a bright sky because of the Moon. Full Moon actually happens 4:54 UT January 5; 11:54 PM Sunday, January 4 EST. On the morning of Sunday the 4th the Moon is going to be very high in the Southwest sky in Northern Orion, and it will be washing out the sky so that only meteors of maybe 2nd - 3rd magnitude will be bright enough to see. That's going to spoil a lot of observing, though the Quadrantids are known to produce some bright ones and even fireballs, so it might still be worth a look.

  Finally, at least locally, there are a lot of weather concerns this year. The forecast in Indianapolis calls for that system that's now far to our Southwest to move through Indiana on Saturday. It's supposed to bring temperatures warm enough to make it a "cold rain" event here for most of the day instead of a snow event (though there are warnings that there might be freezing rain briefly early on Saturday before the precipitation turns to all rain). After the rain bands pass, a cold front is supposed to bring snow showers to us by Sunday. It isn't looking likely, at this point, that I'll have any clear skies on the best night for this shower.

  I'll see what happens and post the news on this blog. I'm planning to use this website more this year than any other to keep track of what I observe (or don't observe!) since, unlike the notes I've kept in the past, it's much easier to keep track of those observations if I keep posting them here. Plus, being stored in "the cloud" makes them much easier not to lose!