Oct 202014



Orionid meteors fly out of a radiant near the shoulder of Orion, the Hunter.  In this sky map, the radiant is denoted by a red dot. Although the meteors emerge from a single point, they can appear anywhere in the sky. Image credit: Dr. Tony Phillips [Larger image]

“We expect to see about 20 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Tuesday morning, Oct 21st,” says Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.  “With no Moon to spoil the show, observing conditions should be ideal.”

Because these meteors streak out of the constellation Orion, astronomers call them “Orionids.”

“The Orionid meteor shower is not the strongest, but it is one of the most beautiful showers of the year,” notes Cooke.

The reason is its setting: The shower is framed by some of the brightest stars in the heavens. Constellations such as Taurus, Gemini and Orion provide a glittering backdrop for the display.  The brightest star of all, Sirius, is located just below Orion’s left foot, a good place to point your camera while you’re waiting for meteors.

An Orionid meteor streaks over the city lights of Shanghai in 2009. Credit: Jefferson Teng

To see the show, Cooke suggests going outside one to two hours before sunrise when the sky is dark and the constellation Orion is high overhead. Lie down on a blanket with a broad view of the heavens.  Although Orionids emerge from a small area near the shoulder of Orion, they will spray across the entire sky.

2014 Orionid Meteor Shower – NASA Science


 Posted by at 7:10 am
Oct 092014

A description of several nice trails in or near Abq.

The cooler temperatures of fall make it a great time to spend some quality time outdoors. But the shorter days also mean weekday outdoor time probably has to be close to home.

Fortunately, the Albuquerque area has many great trails (both urban and forest) where you can enjoy the weather, get some great views and get in some exercise if you’re so inclined. Only the trail on the east side of the Sandias takes more than 30 minutes to get to. And all are uniquely Albuquerque.

Fall for a walk | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 9:15 am
Oct 072014

If we left it up to the market, there would be an oil well in the middle of Rinconada. The profiteers don’t care what they destroy for money. Look at the stripmining going on just barely south of Chaco and the toxic waste closer to Grants.

“We’re not against oil and gas drilling [mjh: I AM!], but it has to be done properly,” said Bruce Gordon, president of EcoFLight, during a flight over the park and its surroundings on Monday morning.

The Partnership for Responsible Business and the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce organized the flyover tour that included one tribal leader and a handful of journalists.

“The biggest thing is the landscape,” said Keenan King, who works with the Partnership for Responsible Business.

Barbara West, a former Chaco Canyon park superintendent, and Mike Eisenfeld, with the San Juan Citizens Alliance, flew above the park on Sunday evening. They were interviewed after the flight in Farmington on Monday.

The group agreed that the BLM needed to create a “Master Leasing Plan” that would take into consideration keeping the park largely unspoiled for visitors.

“We don’t want Chaco to be an island surrounded by hundreds of wells,” said Paul Reed, an archeologist with Archeology Southwest and the author of “The Puebloan Society of Chaco Canyon.”

Environmental groups call for BLM to create comprehensive leasing plan | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 2:05 pm
Oct 072014

See the link for info about the turquoise band.

Colorful Lunar Eclipse – NASA Science

On Wednesday morning, Oct. 8th, not long before sunrise, the bright full Moon over North America will turn a lovely shade of celestial red.  It’s a lunar eclipse—visible from all parts of the USA.

“It promises to be a stunning sight, even from the most light polluted cities,” says NASA’s longtime eclipse expert Fred Espenak. “I encourage everyone, especially families with curious children, to go out and enjoy the event.”

Colorful Lunar Eclipse – NASA Science


 Posted by at 6:00 am
Oct 012014

Imagine boarding the Rail Runner in Santa Fe or Albuquerque and riding south to Bosque del Apache. Wouldn’t it be fantastic? We have the tracks, we have the trains, we have the natural attraction. More than anything we lack imagination and determination to make it happen.

The people most likely to take this train don’t require a fancy stop. The Durango-Silverton rail simply stops in the middle of wilderness for hikers.

Eventually, I’d like to see a special Crane engine modeled after the lovely Rail Runner. But we could start this run in no time. We have trains going to the Wine Festival in Bernalillo. Why not to the Festival of the Cranes?

[reposted from 10/23/13 every year until we can do this]


 Posted by at 4:47 am
Sep 092014

Talk about your canary in a coal mine. Doom.

Global warming may mean bye-bye for some birdies | Albuquerque Journal News

The report says that in a few decades, 126 bird species will end up with a much smaller area to live in, which the society says will make them endangered. An additional 188 species will lose more than half their natural range but relocate to new areas. Those moves will be threatening to the birds’ survival, too, because they will be confronted with different food and soil, bird experts said.

Other birds, including backyard regulars like the American robin and the blue jay, will fly in even more places, the report says. And some of the biggest potential winners aren’t exactly birds that people like — species such as the turkey vulture, the American crow and the mourning dove, which will expand their ranges tremendously.

“If you want to know what the climate change future sounds like, it sounds a lot like a mourning dove,” Langham said. Some people find annoying the singing of the mourning dove, which will more than double its range.

Global warming may mean bye-bye for some birdies | Albuquerque Journal News


 Posted by at 6:41 pm
Sep 082014

The Sky This Week, 2014 September 2 – 9 — Naval Oceanography Portal

Full Moon occurs on the 8th at 9:38 pm Eastern Daylight Time.  The Full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox is popularly known as the Harvest Moon.  This year the Full Moon of September beats the October Full Moon by one day for this distinction.  In addition to a catchy name, the Harvest Moon also describes a phenomenon that occurs at this time of the year in which the times of successive moonrises around the time of Full Moon differ by about half an hour instead of the more usual one hour.  This effect becomes more noticeable in more northerly latitudes; residents of Stockholm in Sweden see successive moonrises just over 20 minutes later each night.  Folks in Tromsø, Norway will find Luna rising at about the same time for the nights around Full Moon; north of about 70 degrees latitude Luna actually rises earlier for several nights!  This phenomenon once assisted farmers bringing in their crops by providing the light of the rising Moon to assist them in their labors, allowing them to work late into the night.

The last few weeks of astronomical summer produce another subtle change in the night sky.  This is one of two times during the year that the length of daylight changes at its most rapid rate.  In the spring we all notice the days getting longer, and now we see the opposite effect.  Most of us notice this at the time of sunset, which occurs about two minutes earlier each day as we approach the equinox.  Since the stars set four minutes earlier each day throughout the year, the net effect is that the constellations seem to slow their passage across the sky in the fall, so the stars of summer will seem to linger with us well into November.

The Sky This Week, 2014 September 2 – 9 — Naval Oceanography Portal


 Posted by at 7:38 am
Sep 052014

If you don’t live in the desert southwest, you may not be able to appreciate my sudden sorrow. Days ago, we heard rain was coming in a BIG way for the first time in nearly a month. Yesterday was cloudy, heaving black clouds visible to the east above the mountains.

Oh, but those mountains. You may know that New Mexico is split north to south by the Rio Grande. All along the eastern side of that rift, mountains rise. Weather folk call this the central mountains, but it is the tail end of the Rockies. Sometimes, it is a wall dividing weather. East of the mountains, heavy rain has fallen all up and down the state over the past 2 days. Here … nada. It’s just like anticipating an ice cold drink only to have it snatched from your grasp.


 Posted by at 2:56 pm
Sep 042014

Lifted from Tina of the Wilderness Alliance, who is trying to visit all of these in 2014.

New Mexico Wilderness Areas and Maps |

Aldo Leopold Wilderness (map)
Apache Kid Wilderness (map)
Bandelier Wilderness (map)
Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (map)
Blue Range Wilderness (map)
Bosque del Apache Wilderness (map)
Capitan Mountains Wilderness (map)
Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness (map)
Cebolla Wilderness (map)
Chama River Canyon Wilderness (map)
Cruces Basin Wilderness (map)
Dome Wilderness (map)
Gila Wilderness (map)
Latir Peak Wilderness (map)
Manzano Mountain Wilderness (map)
Ojito Wilderness (map)
Pecos Wilderness (map)
Sabinoso Wilderness (map)
Salt Creek Wilderness (map)
San Pedro Parks Wilderness (map)
Sandia Mountain Wilderness (map)
West Malpais Wilderness (map)
Wheeler Peak Wilderness (map)
White Mountain Wilderness (map)
Withington Wilderness (map)

New Mexico Wilderness Areas and Maps |

Proposed Wilderness — NMWild

Proposed Wilderness — NMWild

[originally posted Apr 21, 2008]

List of U.S. Wilderness Areas: Information From Answers.com
Wilderness.net- Wilderness Areas by State

BLM, NM, OK,TX, KS, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas

Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in New Mexico
Name – acres – date designated
Aden Lava Flow – 25,972 – May-92
Ah-shi-sle-pah – 6,563 – May-92
Alamo Hueco Mountains – 17,244 – May-92
Antelope – 20,710 – May-92
Apache Box – 932 – May-92
Apache Box Add-on – 4,365 –
Big Hatchet Mountains – 67,697 – May-92
Blue Creek – 14,620 – May-92
Brokeoff Mountains – 30,848 – May-92
Cabezon – 8,159 – May-92
Canyons – 4,000
Carrizozo Lava Flow – 10,408 – May-92
Cedar Mountains – 14,908 – May-92
Chain-of-Craters – 18,300 –
Chamisa – 13,692 – May-92
Continental Divide – 68,761 – May-92
Cooke’s Range – 19,872 – May-92
Cowboy Spring – 6,666 – May-92
Culp Canyon – 11,265 – May-92
Devil’s Backbone – 8,904 – May-92
Devil’s Den Canyon – 320 – May-92
Devil’s Reach – 860 –
Eagle Peak – 43,960 – May-92
Empedrado – 9,007 – May-92
Florida Mountains – 22,066 – May-92
Gila Lower Box – 8,178 – May-92
Gray Peak – 14,471 –
Guadalupe Canyon – 4,145 – May-92
Guadalupe Escarpment – 6,957 –
Horse Mountain – 5,032 – May-92
Hoverrocker – 22
Ignacio Chavez – 33,264 – May-92
Jornada del Muerto – 31,147 – May-92
La Lena – 10,438May-92
Las Uvas Mountains – 11,067 – May-92
Little Black Peak – 14,904 – May-92
Lonesome Ridge – 3,505 – May-92
Manzano – 881 – May-92
Mathers – 362 – May-92
McKittrick Canyon – 200 – May-92
Mesita Blanca – 19,414 – May-92
Mount Riley – 8,488 – May-92
Mudgetts – 2,941 – May-92
Ojito – 10,903 – May-92 [made a Wilderness Area in 2005]
Organ Mountains – 7,211 – May-92
Organ Needles – 5,959
Peloncillo Mountains – 3,993 – May-92
Pena Blanca – 4,780 –
Petaca Pinta – 11,668 – May-92
Presilla – 8,680 – May-92
Rio Chama – 11,985 – May-92
Robledo Mountains – 13,379 – May-92
Sabinoso – 15,760 – May-92
Sacramento Escarpment – 3,010 –
San Antonio – 7,050 – May-92
Sierra de las Canas – 12,838 – May-92
Sierra Ladrones – 45,308 – May-92
Stallion – 24,238 – May-92
Veranito – 7,206 – May-92
West Potrillo Mountains – 151,049 -May-92

Wilderness.net- Wilderness Area Search

NM Books and Maps | Public Lands Information Center

[originally posted 5/11/06; revised 6/26/06]


 Posted by at 7:47 am
Sep 032014

Ojito Wilderness NM

My hobby is ‘bagging’ wildernesses, that is, having photos taken of me with wilderness signs. A few are self-portraits, like the one above. Most have been taken by my spirit guide, Merri Rudd. We’ve visited all of the wildernesses in New Mexico, and more than a few in the Four Corners and along the Rockies. I’ve finally gathered some of the photos that identify those wildernesses. More to come, I hope.


 Posted by at 3:42 pm
Sep 032014

Nobody said it more succinctly than Thoreau. We arose from the wildland and have been close to wilderness for most of our existence. Only in the last two centuries have we become a serious threat to wilderness (and, not coincidentally, the Earth itself). I give thanks that 50 years ago today, people had the strength to draw a line and say ‘no farther.’

That first official Wilderness was the Gila here in New Mexico and New Mexicans played key roles in the passage of the Wilderness Act. I can see more than one wilderness from my house in the middle of the largest city in New Mexico. (A hundred mile vista helps, and the closest wilderness towers 5,000 feet above the city.)

There are those who would sell off our shared heritage for quick profit and longterm devastation. The profiteers oppose every effort to expand wilderness beyond the tiny islands remaining from what was an entire continent of wilderness. Those islands are isolated and riven by roads. Their silence is shattered by air traffic. Their lifeblood is coveted by those who would bottle and sell it. Every single day, we need to roar “no farther!”

Wilderness Quotes

“The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World.” – Thoreau

Wilderness Quotes

Wilderness Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wilderness Act is well known for its succinct and poetic definition of wilderness:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Wilderness Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

50 years later, Wilderness Act divides ranchers, environmentalists – The Santa Fe New Mexican: Home By Staci Matlock, The New Mexican

50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act sees disagreements between ranchers and environmentalists

Aldo Leopold, an avid hunter and angler who worked for the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico, convinced his bosses in 1924 to designate 750,000 acres of the Gila National Forest as the world’s first wilderness.

It would be four decades more before a bipartisan Congress, with only one dissenting vote, approved the Wilderness Act. …

Only 2.5 percent of public land is protected wilderness. “We’re not talking about a vast part of our public lands,” said Mark Allison, director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “These are places so special that we want to set them aside for future generations.”

The first two wilderness areas approved under the law were both in New Mexico — the Gila and the Pecos Wilderness. Since it was enacted, the act has preserved more than 109 million acres in 756 wilderness areas around the United States.

Over the past 50 years, Congress has approved millions of acres of designated wilderness, with votes of support from both sides of the aisle and presidents from both parties signing the bills into law.

But bipartisan support has changed in the last half dozen years.

50 years later, Wilderness Act divides ranchers, environmentalists – The Santa Fe New Mexican: Home


 Posted by at 9:11 am
Sep 012014

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

Six new cities have been designated as Urban Refuge Partnership sites! Valle de Oro received this honor last year and we are thrilled to see this program expanding.

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge

Fish and Wildlife Service News Release System

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today it will partner with communities, corporations and nonprofits to help restore the natural environment and boost opportunities for residents in six cities to connect with nature. Together, the Service and partners expect to direct more than $1.7 million to community-led habitat restoration projects and engage thousands of volunteers in the efforts.

Six national wildlife refuges will play a key part in the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships: Hopper Mountain Refuge in Ventura, CA; Bayou Sauvage Refuge in New Orleans, LA; Rocky Mountain Arsenal Refuge in Denver, CO; John Heinz Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia, PA; Wallkill River Refuge in Sussex, NJ; and Santa Ana Refuge in Alamo, TX. The partnerships will encourage participation in conservation and outdoor recreation in residents’ local communities.

“Thanks to our partners, we are expanding beyond our national wildlife refuges and finding new ways to educate and inspire young people living in urban centers, helping raise a new generation of conservationists with a passion to care for our lands, water and wildlife,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Urban Wildlife Refuge Program, raises awareness and capacities to engage a new and more diverse constituency in meaningful, collaborative ways to nurture an appreciation of wildlife conservation, both on and off urban refuges.

Fish and Wildlife Service News Release System


 Posted by at 3:35 am
Aug 292014

OK, I did name the wilderness in the photos themselves. These newest photos are the oldest. (I know, it sounds wrong, but it’s true.) We took a trip to the unnamed wilderness in June with friends Melissa and Lew. We camped in a campground, instead of the jack-camping we did in August. Follow the link for all photos (14 from June plus the previously posted 60 from August).

pale wild iris Western Tanager gray jay (not to be confused with a Clark's nutcracker) a snake in a stream (much smaller than it may seem)

all photos


 Posted by at 3:20 pm
Aug 252014

We camped in a magical place. We were just below 10,000 feet altitude among huge aspen on the edge of a wildflower meadow at a wilderness trailhead for 6 days. We hiked down a steep trail into broad canyons with meandering trout streams. We hiked up to open fields with vast views. We hiked straight out through dense aspen among elk. Most of that time, we were alone.

why we love New Mexico
On our way to heaven.

where the camper takes us
Our truck gets us there and our camper keeps us comfortable.

a trail through the aspen
These aspen are young, but we saw many old giants.

Indian paintbrush in front of aspen
The wildflowers were past peak but still wonderful.

Merri in her happy place
Merri in her happy place.

This place isn’t really a secret. Two months ago, a dozen tents occupied our future campsite. (Tent campers have damaged many of the trees. You bastards!) On that hike, we met people coming and going on the trail. This time, not so much. Maybe it was the weather, which was hotter than we expected, though we enjoyed the little rain we got. I’m sure this place is completely different in hunting season and when the snowmobiles arrive. Our biggest disappointment was the surprising frequency of air traffic noise. Wilderness advocates should sue the federal government to demand quiet airspace, at least at times, around these sacred spaces.

More photos (and the location).


 Posted by at 7:47 am