Betelgeuse is getting strange


No — not this one!

” Normally, Betelgeuse is among the 10 brightest stars in the sky. However, the red giant began dimming in October, and by mid-December, the star had faded so much it wasn’t even in the top 20, Villanova University’s Edward Guinan reported in an Astronomer’s Telegram.

“Now the outline of Orion is noticeably different with Betelgeuse so faint,” he says…

” To be clear, dimming alone isn’t all that odd for a star like Betelgeuse. It’s what’s known as a variable star, and its shifts in brightness have been closely studied for decades. However, it is unusual for one of the sky’s most prominent points of light to fade so noticeably, prompting scientists to consider the possibility that something more exciting could be about to happen: Betelgeuse might explode and die, briefly blazing brighter than the full moon before vanishing from our night sky forever.

Huge, red stars like Betelgeuse live fast and die violently, exploding in stellar events called supernovae that are visible across vast distances. So, while Betelgeuse is a relatively young star—only about 8.5 million years old—astronomers know that it is nearing the end of its life.

Don’t hold your breath, waiting. Our Fake President will stop lying – or the GOP will tax wealth — before this star probably goes supernova.

Congress may extend tax credits on new – and USED – electric vehicles


They’re out there in the wild

” Talks in the U.S. Congress over the weekend focused on the reinstatement of tax extenders that will not only benefit electric car manufacturers but those involved in biofuel and short-line railroad industries. If the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act gets the thumbs up, the cap for EV sales for manufacturers will be raised to 600,000 from 200,000 units and also reduce the tax credit from $7,500 to $7,000.

There will also be tax credits for the purchase of used electric vehicles with certain limitations such as the vehicle was used and registered in the U.S., will be sold for less than $25,000, tax credit can’t exceed 30 percent of the selling price, among others.

First, check your friendly neighborhood Congressperson for backbone. Second, hey, check around and see what deals are available in your neck of the prairie in secondhand electric cars. Might be worth it presuming there is sufficient gumption in DC.

Playing sounds of healthy coral reefs may lure fish back to damaged areas


Tim Gordon, Univ. of Exeter

❝ Dead patches on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be revived by playing the ambient sounds of a healthy reef via loudspeakers to lure in young fish.

These fish help to clean the reef and make room in which new corals can grow, beginning the process of ecosystem recovery…

❝…researchers found that twice as many fish arrived at — and stayed near — the dead patches where the loudspeakers were operating than those where no sound was playing. ‘Fish are crucial for coral reefs to function as healthy ecosystems,’ said Marine biologist Tim Gordon.

‘Boosting fish populations in this way could help to kick-start natural recovery processes, counteracting the damage we’re seeing on many coral reefs around the world.’

Interesting, positive…RTFA for details and let’s hope it works to reverse the damage our species has done.

A mast year for acorns in New England

❝ If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you’ve noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, “masting.”

In New England, naturalists have declared this fall a mast year for oaks: All the trees are making tons of acorns all at the same time…

❝ For trees like oaks that depend on having their seeds carried away from the parent tree and buried by animals like squirrels, a mast year has an extra benefit. When there are lots of nuts, squirrels bury more of them instead of eating them immediately, spreading oaks across the landscape.

❝ Whatever the causes, masting has consequences that flow up and down the food chain.

For instance, rodent populations often boom in response to high seed production. This in turn results in more food for rodent-eating predators like hawks and foxes; lower nesting success for songbirds, if rodents eat their eggs; and potentially higher risk of transmission of diseases like hantavirus to people.

If the low seed year that follows causes the rodent population to collapse, the effects are reversed.

Please, RTFA for discussion of other cause-and-effect relationships, possibilities…even maybe’s

Black-and-White Sunset


Click to enlarge

When the light’s a certain kind of intense, I really love my photos in black-and-white. Just a few minutes before sunset…my last walk of the day passing our wee side meadow to the back meadow and below to the bosque. Passing alongside gramma grass, drying and curling for the winter, wind-broken taller spikes of feathergrass in the back meadow. The low angle intensity of the sun.

Dazzles my old brain.

Austria election: far-Right populists crash-and-burn / Green Party triples their best result

❝ Support for Austria’s Freedom party (FPÖ) has plunged by more than a third as voters punished the far-right group in national elections for a corruption scandal that brought down the government.

❝ The former chancellor Sebastian Kurz, 33, looks certain to reclaim his position as the youngest leader in the world after his conservative People’s party (ÖVP) secured 37.1% of the vote – its best result since 2002.

The Green party was the other big winner on Sunday, achieving its best result at national elections with 14%. The centre-left Social Democratic party (SPÖ) plummeted to a historically low 21.7% but was still the second-biggest party.

Questions about coalitions are not terribly unique – once you get outside the United States. Though we’ve had decades of cornball [and effective] brainwashing about the so-called benefits of 2-party politics, I see no reason to make excuses for the one-size-fits-all approach to electoral politics.