Saturday, April 2, 2011

USGS Video: Unraveling the Mystery of Avian Navigation

The USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) in Menlo Park holds a monthly lecture series on scientific topics for the general public. Unfortunately I often can’t make it down to Menlo Park, but the good news is that they post a video archive of all the lectures online.

This past Thursday the lecture was: “Unraveling the Mystery of Avian Navigation: New research indicates that birds are listening to the landscape to find their way.” By Jon Hagstrum, Research Geophysicist. It’s basically this scientists research about “infrasound” and how pigeons may use it to navigate. There have been many theories over the years about how birds find their way “home” particularly pigeons, and none of them have really stood up to scientific testing. There is a little bit of physics involved in this lecture, but not too much, and these videos are really aimed at the general public viewing audience. I found it to be a really interesting topic, and if you are in to birds or navigation you should check it out.

Other USGS links:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Super Moon Vernal Equinox!

(Not a perigee moon but big nonetheless. Full Moon Set over Oakland, CA, March 21, 2008. Photo by Rebecca Bond.)

Tomorrow, March 19, 2011, we will not only have a full moon, but the moon’s orbit of the earth will be at Perigee (<—click for NASA explanation webpage)—meaning the closest distance of the moon to the earth in the moon’s orbit. Full moon perigee this close to the earth only happens approximately every 18 years. If you are lucky enough to have clear skies tomorrow evening, be sure to get out your camera and be ready to shoot as the moon shows up over the horizon. It should look super huge! Well actually 14% bigger and 30% brighter according to NASA. But, once it's up in the sky it may not look that much different than a regular full moon except brighter, and unfortunately, we are predicted to have rain all weekend long in most of California, so no go for me.

But wait, there’s more! Astronomical events that is... The Vernal, or Spring, Equinox is on Sunday, March 20, 2011, meaning the sun will be directly above the equator and daylight will be about 12 hours. A better explanation can be found at

Here’s a youtube video from NASAScience explaining the “Super Full Moon”: