April 14 – Nothing but blue skies

Today’s Factismal: It is National Look At The Sky day. So go look!

Up! In the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s – science!

Today is National Look At The Sky Day. A lot of folks may wonder what is so wonderful about the sky, but citizen scientists know the answer to that. There are clouds that weigh more than castles, and winds faster than a car, and comets and meteorites and birds and just about anything else that you could want. And the one thing that links all of those things together is science.

Surveillance images like this helped stabilize the world (Image courtesy the Atlantic)

Surveillance images like this helped stabilize the world
(Image courtesy the Atlantic)

For example, it was science that taught the Montgolfier brothers how to build their hot air balloon in 1782. And it was science that suggested to the Confederate and Union armies that balloons could be used for surveillance of enemy troops (though it was pride that kept them from being successful). And it was science that transformed the balloons into planes and satellites and the surveillance from troop movements to land development. So when you look in the sky today, don’t be surprised if something is looking back at you!

A LandSat image of San Francisco (Image courtesy NASA)

A LandSat image of San Francisco
(Image courtesy NASA)

Thanks to science you can even do some surveillance of your own. The Public Laboratory has developed a series of kite and balloon mapping tools that are simple, easy, and fun. So why not give them a try? You can even get a picture of yourself, celebrating National Look At The Sky Day!
http://publiclaboratory.org/tool/balloon-mapping

Or if that is too much trouble, then please remember that the first of four total lunar eclipses visible from North America (hey! that’s where I live!) will be visible tonight, starting at 11:53 AM Central time and running until 5:37 AM ! For more information, go to NASA’s excellent eclipse page:
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2014.html#LE2014Apr15T

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