Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Saguaro Moon

"Credit & Copyright: Stefan Seip (Astro Meeting)
Explanation: A Full Moon rising can be a dramatic celestial sight, and Full Moons can have many names. For example, tonight's Full Moon, the one nearest the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, is popularly called the Harvest Moon. According to lore the name is a fitting one because farmers could work late into the night at the end of the growing season harvesting crops by moonlight. In the same traditions, the Full Moon following the Harvest Moon is the Hunter's Moon. But, recorded on a trip to the American southwest, this contribution to compelling images of moonrise is appropriately titled Saguaro Moon."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Early Christian Soldiers

I'm reading "Eusebius, The Church History", who was a Christian who lived from 260 - 339 AD and wrote about early Christianity. It's a fascinating book, here's an excerpt from the period at the beginning of Diocletian's persecution of Christians:

"First he struck at those in the camps, thinking that if he won there the rest would be easily defeated. Now large numbers of soldiers were glad to become civilians so as not to renounce their reverence for the Creator. The commander-in-chief, whoever he was, first began persecuting the soldiers by sorting them out and letting them choose either to conform and retain their rank or to disobey the edict and be stripped of it. A great many soldiers of Christ's kingdom unhesitatingly chose to confess him rather than hold onto their apparent glory and prosperity. Of these, a few here and there were already receiving not only loss of honor, but even death in exchange for their loyal devotion, for as yet the instigator of the plot was risking bloodshed only rarely, apparently fearing the number of believers and hesitating to make war on all of them at once. But once he had readied himself, words are inadequate to describe the number or the nobility of God's martyrs, as witnessed by people in every city and region."

Obviously there were quite a few Christian Roman soldiers by 303 AD, so I don't really 'get' Christians who claim to be pacifists.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tungurahua Erupts

Credit & Copyright: Patrick Taschler
Explanation: Volcano Tungurahua erupted spectacularly last year. Pictured above, molten rock so hot it glows visibly pours down the sides of the 5,000-meter high Tungurahua, while a cloud of dark ash is seen being ejected toward the left. Wispy white clouds flow around the lava-lit peak, while a star-lit sky shines in the distance. The above image was captured last year as ash fell around the adventurous photographer. Located in Ecuador, Tungurahua has become active roughly every 90 years since for the last 1,300 years. Volcano Tungurahua has started erupting again this year and continues erupting at a lower level even today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Six Rainbows Across Norway

Credit & Copyright: Terje O. Nordvik
Explanation: Have you ever seen six rainbows at once? They are not only rare to see -- they are a puzzle to understand. The common rainbow is caused by sunlight internally reflected by the backs of falling raindrops, while also being refracted at the air / water boundary. To see a rainbow, look opposite the Sun towards a rainstorm. This primary rainbow is the brightest color swath in the above image. Multiple internal reflections inside water droplets sometimes make a secondary rainbow to become visible outside the first, with colors reversed. Just such a secondary rainbow is visible of the far left. Harder to explain is the intermediate rainbow, between the two. This rainbow is likely caused by sunlight that has first reflected off the lake before striking the distant raindrops that is reflecting sunlight back toward the observer. Each of these rainbows appears to be reflected by the calm lake, although because the positions of rainbows depend on the location of the observer, a slightly displaced image of each rainbow is actually being imaged.