The Celestial Guide for March 2014

Spring is on its way, so get outside for stargazing fun in March! There are bright planets to observe and it’s the start of Galaxy Season, so there’s plenty of celestial sights to enjoy in the third month of 2014. Here are a few of my top picks for March stargazing:

Mars gets bigger and brighter – In mid to late March, the red planet Mars will get brighter and bigger in the night sky. Mars reaches opposition – its closest yearly approach to Earth – in early April, but it will start to be an attractive target in the late night hours of March. The disk of the planet will grow in apparent size from 12 arc seconds to almost 15 arc seconds as its orbit brings it closer and closer to our own planet. While almost any size telescope will show you Mars, an 80mm refractor or 6″ or larger reflector are really needed to see any detail on the planet.

A filter will help bring out the elusive darker markings on Mars!Catch Jupiter in the early evening – If you haven’t sought out spectacular Jupiter with a telescope this year, now’s your chance! Gigantic Jupiter will be well placed for visual observations and imaging in the early evening hours of March. Like Mars, any telescope will display the basic features, but bigger scopes show a wealth of detail. Look for Jupiter in the constellation of Gemini and try an affordable filter to enhance contrast of the major cloud belts and the famous Great Red Spot!Get ready for Saturn – Saturn rises before midnight in the constellation of Libra and will be a good telescopic target in the late evening and morning skies of March. Just about any telescope can show the amazing ring system, and larger models will reveal the Cassini Division feature of the ringed planet. 

March is still a good time to see the constellation of Orion and M42, the Orion Nebula. After March, the Orion constellation will get lower and lower in the west, making it harder to see as the Sun moves eastward in the sky. The wispy Orion Nebula can easily be seen with 50mm or larger binoculars, and using a telescope will reveal more detail.Brilliant binocular clusters – Grab a pair of 50mm or larger binoculars in March for great views of the Pleiades cluster (M45), the Beehive cluster (M44), and the must-see Double Cluster in Perseus. These sparkling sky gems are simply beautiful when observed with big binoculars. By about 9pm throughout March, Ursa Major, Leo, and the western edge of the Virgo galaxy cluster are high enough in the eastern sky to yield great views of some of our favorite galaxies. Check out the bright pair of M81 and M82 just above the Big Dipper asterism.

Look east of bright star Regulus in Leo to observe M65 and M66, which can be seen in almost any telescope. In the northeastern sky, check out the famous Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). While the Whirlpool can be seen with modest 50mm binoculars, using a 10″ or 12″ telescope in a dark sky site will display the distant galaxy’s beautiful spiral arms. With an 8″ or larger telescope and a dark sky this region of the sky harbors dozens of galaxies – try to find them all!Challenge object, NGC 2419, “The Intergalactic Wanderer” – In the constellation Lynx, from a location with dark skies using a good 4.5″ or larger telescope you can find NGC 2419, a globular star cluster. To make this glittering cluster an easier target to locate, we suggest a 6 or 8″ telescope, and a larger telescope is needed to resolve the cluster into individual stars. NGC 2419 is a distant globular cluster, once thought to lie outside our Milky Way galaxy.Get ready for April’s lunar eclipse! – Mark your calendars – there will be a total eclipse of the Moon on the night of April 14/15, the first in years for North America.

All objects described above can easily be seen from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars. All objects have been verified by actual observations.

Crash

#MilitaryMonday: World War II Medal of Honor recipient Walter Ehlers dies

This 2001 photo shows Walt D. Ehlers, of Buena Park, Calif., and recipient of World War II Medal of Honor. Ehlers died at 92. During the historic D-Day invasion of World War II, Ehlers accomplished some of the most awe-inspiring acts of bravery imaginable, earning a Medal of Honor for knocking out two German machine-gun nests and saving countless Allied soldiers' lives. Ehlers died Thursday at a Long Beach hospital of kidney failure, his wife, Dorothy, told The Associated Press on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Jebb Harris)

This 2001 photo shows Walt D. Ehlers, of Buena Park, Calif., and recipient of World War II Medal of Honor. Ehlers died at 92. During the historic D-Day invasion of World War II, Ehlers accomplished some of the most awe-inspiring acts of bravery imaginable, earning a Medal of Honor for knocking out two German machine-gun nests and saving countless Allied soldiers’ lives. Ehlers died Thursday at a Long Beach hospital of kidney failure, his wife, Dorothy, told The Associated Press on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Jebb Harris)

During the historic D-Day invasion of World War II, Walter D. Ehlers accomplished some of the most awe-inspiring acts of bravery imaginable, earning a Medal of Honor for knocking out two German machine-gun nests and saving countless Allied soldiers’ lives.

The 23-year-old staff sergeant charged through enemy gunfire to kill seven enemy soldiers, chase away several others, put a halt to mortar fire and carry a wounded comrade to safety, even after he been shot in the back.

Yet for years, Ehlers rarely talked about those accomplishments; not until word got around that it was his Medal of Honor heroics that were getting him invited to every presidential inauguration since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s.

Ehlers died Thursday at a Long Beach hospital of kidney failure, his wife, Dorothy, told The Associated Press on Monday. He was 92, and his passing leaves only seven surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipients.

Walter Ehlers at 23. The Staff Sgt receives his Medal of Honor

Walter Ehlers at 23. The Staff Sgt receives his Medal of Honor

“He never bragged about it at all,” his wife said of her husband’s wartime heroics, adding he simply told people who commented on his Medal of Honor, “I wear it for all those who didn’t come home.” That included his older brother, Roland.

“He would always tell you his brother, who was killed on D-Day, was his hero,” she said.

The brothers had enlisted in the Army together in 1940 and had taken part in invasions of Africa and Italy before D-Day arrived on June 6, 1944. The day before, their military superiors said they were separating them to improve the odds that at least one would survive.

As the Allied boats arrived under heavy German fire, Ehlers, a staff sergeant, led his group of soldiers onto the sand. His brother, arriving on another boat, was killed.

“I got all 12 of my men off the beach without a casualty, which was the best thing I ever did in my life,” he once told the Orange County Register.

As the soldiers advanced, they came under heavy fire from first one and then another machine-gun nest. Ehlers single-handedly knocked out both, as well as chased away a group of German soldiers firing mortar rounds.

In all, he killed seven enemy soldiers and carried a badly wounded comrade to safety after being shot in the back himself.

“The intrepid leadership, indomitable courage, and fearless aggressiveness displayed by S/Sgt. Ehlers in the face of overwhelming enemy forces serve as an inspiration to others,” his Medal of Honor citation reads.

After the war, Ehlers returned briefly to Kansas, where he had grown up and where a street is named after him in the town of Manhattan. Soon afterward, he moved to California.

“He wanted to get into the movies,” his wife recalled Monday with a laugh. She added that he did earn one movie credit, playing West Point cadet Mike Shannon in the 1955 John Ford film “The Long Gray Line.”

“He always joked that he graduated from West Point because his character did.”

Instead, the Buena Park resident spent many years working for the Veterans Administration as a benefits counselor.

On the 50th anniversary of D-Day he returned to France, where he joined President Bill Clinton and others in commemorating the event.

In addition to his wife of 58 years, Ehlers is survived by daughters Cathy Metcalf and Tracy Kilpatrick; his son, Lt. Col. (ret.) Walter D. Ehlers Jr.; sisters Leona Porter, Marjorie Gustin and Gloria Salberg; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Walter Ehlers3

Funeral services with full military honors will be March 8 at Riverside National Cemetery.

Crash

Landscape Painting in Postwar Britain

A R T L▼R K

51ggp57lkdL._SY300_ February 1954 is one of Roger Hilton’s non-figurative works held in the Tate Collection, London. The artist made a number of such paintings claiming to have been influenced by the work of Piet Mondrian whose abstractions in primary colours within black and white grids he  had seen in Amsterdam. The difference was though that Hilton’s work did not simply explore colour and geometry of form; one can still discern references to the human body. The works of British artists of the immediate postwar years seemed closely linked to the real world, and particularly to nature.

The 1950s were a decade of transition, in which a dominant critical mode, especially true in relation to landscape – welcomed abstract painting that permitted figurative interpretation without enforcing a single reading. Notably, the painters associated with St Ives i.e. Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon, Roger Hilton and Terry Frost were forging their own, unique language…

View original post 469 more words

Top 10 Most Haunted Colleges in the Midwest

Mysterious Heartland

Leaving home and going to college for the first time can be a very exciting and scary experience, especially if your college shares its campus with the otherworldly and unseen. Almost every college and university has at least one legend or ghost story, but which can lay claim to the title of most haunted? After much debate, Mysterious Heartland brings you the Top 10 Most Haunted Colleges and Universities in the Midwest! Note: Many of these schools have open campuses, but please be mindful of visiting hours.
10. Northwest Missouri State University

Maryville, Missouri

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsNorthwest Missouri State University was founded in 1905 as a teachers college, and was originally known as Fifth District Normal School. Its Administration Building has suffered several accidents. It was struck by a tornado in 1919 and a fire destroyed most of its west wing, central wing, and auditorium in 1979. It was a different accident…

View original post 1,824 more words

The Cold War Never Ended

WildKat Formation

I’ve never been interested in the Winter Olympics. I prefer my Olympic athletes to be…how you say…”more naked.” There is little to no Olympics craze here in Albania either, so most of what I know about the games comes from social media. And other than giggling at the name Bode and getting tired of hearing about how hot some Italian ice skater chick is, what seems to be dominating the news I get are the sub-par amenities at the Sochi hotels. Um…what?

There is a hashtag on Twitter called #SochiProblems, I guess. And a matching account with over 300,000 followers dedicated to westerners complaining about spending a few weeks in an underdeveloped country that doesn’t quite meet their qualifications for luxury. As an American, I am very familiar with the concept of “getting your money’s worth,” and having worked many years in customer service I understand that westerners…

View original post 886 more words

Selfie Bingo!

The Carceral Net

There was a talk about selfies at the National Portrait Gallery in London a few weeks ago (http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/late-shift-1/panel-discussion-the-curated-ego-16012014.php), and when I was there I talked to Annebella Pollen who was chairing the session. As we were talking, anticipating the evening to come, I mentioned the fact that the same recurring themes seem to come up in discussions about the selfie. The predictability of some of these themes – ‘selfies are not photography’, ‘there are too many selfies’, and so on – interests me, as it demonstrates just how restricted the way of talking about this practice had often become. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, it’s not so much the photographs themselves, or what we even say about them, that I find important – it’s the social structures that support and are supported by such statements.

As a whimsical reaction to this, I have made a bingo card of (mostly…

View original post 33 more words

Food: MacDuff’s 30-Minute Mini-Meatloaves

A cyclist's special: barbecue meatloaves in muffin tins for a kid-friendly presentation that the whole family will love!

A cyclist’s special: barbecue meatloaves in muffin tins for a kid-friendly presentation that the whole family will love!

Once again, another in a series of Crash-tested, kid approved meals!

Total Time: 30 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 20 min
Yield: 6 servings
Level: Too Easy

Ingredients
1 2/3 to 1 3/4 pounds ground sirloin.
1 medium onion, cut into chunks.
2 ribs celery from the heart of the stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces.
1 green bell pepper.
1 large egg plus a splash of milk, beaten.
1 cup plain bread crumbs.
2 tablespoons grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick).
1 cup smoky barbecue sauce.
1/2 cup tomato salsa.
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.
Vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil.
Micro-way-cool Bacon and Green Beans.
Smashed potatoes and cream cheese.

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Put ground beef into a big bowl. Put onion and celery into a food processor. Cut the bell pepper in half, rip out the seeds and throw them into your garbage bowl. Cut the pepper into a few pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse the processor blades to finely chop the vegetables into very small pieces then add them to the meat bowl. Add egg, beaten with milk, bread crumbs and grill seasoning to the bowl. Next, mix together the smoky barbecue sauce, the salsa and the Worcestershire sauce. Pour half the sauce mixture into the bowl with the meatloaf mix. Mix the meatloaf together with your hands. Wash up. Brush a 12-muffin tin (1/2-cup each) with vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil. Use an ice cream scoop to help you fill meat into a each tin. Top each meat loaf with a spoonful of extra sauce. Bake about 20 minutes. Cut open 1 muffin to test that the middle is cooked through. While meatloaf muffins bake, make green beans in the microwave. Serve meatloaf with Smashed Potatoes and Cream Cheese on the side, too.

Smashed Potatoes and Cream Cheese:
2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes or baby Yukon gold potatoes

1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk

8 ounces plain cream cheese or veggie cream cheese, cut into pieces

10 chives or 2 scallions, chopped or snipped with kitchen scissors

Salt and pepper

Boil potatoes until tender, 15 minutes. While the water boils and when the potatoes are cooking, you can be working on the meatloaf recipe.

When the potatoes are tender, drain them and return them to the hot pot to let them dry out a bit. Mash potatoes with half-and-half or milk using a potato masher. Add in the cream cheese and smash until the cheese melts into the potatoes. Then add chives and scallions and season with salt and pepper, to your taste.

Crash