A  Norumbega  Almanac

Containing Data and Observations upon Matters
Astronomical and Meteorological,
as well as Ruminations upon Topics Various and Sundry.
For the Year 2016 as it is reckoned according to the Common Era.
Founded October 28, 2003.
Colby Quid, editor and philomath.

A Word about “Norumbega”
 Almanac  Observations  Ephemeris
Fitted for the
Town of Yarmouth,
State of Maine, U.S.
43.80° N. Lat.
70.18° W. Long.

N.B. The pages in this column are constantly under construction, being expanded frequently. Please check them occasionally for fresh content and additional links.

WEATHER PAGE


ASTRONOMY PAGE


NATURE PAGE


TIME PAGE


REFERENCE PAGE


OUR LITTLE TOWN
PAGE


Wednesday, November 30, 2016
The Gray office of the National Weather Service reports that 1.24 inches of rain fell there yesterday. Had this been snow, we'd be spending some of this day moving around about 14 inches of accumulation. Instead, there is ponding in the backyard, a sight not seen since the drought began in the summer.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Sunday, November 27, 2016
Today is the first Sunday in Advent, a season in the Christian calendar that is a forerunner to Christmas. Advent and Christmas share in common the fact that they are festivals that go on for more than one day, and they are connected in their theological origins, but are nonetheless separate festivals, with different characters.

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends Christmas eve. Christmas is a twelve-day festival that begins on December 25th and continues until Epiphany, on January 6th. Advent is a reflective, but not somber, period of anticipation of the coming of the Savior. It has its own customs, including the Advent wreath and the Advent calendar, which are employed as devices for the eager mood, and its own music, such as O Come, O Come, Immanuel, which many mistake for a Christmas carol. Some Christians also observe fasts during the Advent period. Christmas is a full-blown celebration of the arrival of the Christ child.

In modern day America, Advent is all but forgotten — and not just by secularist celebrants of the holidays. It has been replaced by a commercialized version of Christmas, which begins on the day after Thanksgiving with shopping and stringing of lights and erections of internally-lighted symbols of Christmas, both sacred and secular, which prevails in a frenzy that makes many people anxious and hostile until December 25, when presents are opened by noon and the Christmas tree is stripped and booted out onto the curb by darkfall. There is practical reason for this, because the tree was too early cut and brought into a house, whose air is dry from central heating, and is now a fire hazard. When Advent was properly observed by Christians, the tree was brought in and decorated Christmas eve and was able to safely survive until Epiphany. This custom has no meaning or usefulness in the Age of Ticky-tack.

Lest you jump to the conclusion that your editor is a self-righteous zealot, let us be clear: he is no Christian. His sense of the numinous makes of him a celebrant of what he deems the quintessential values of this season: thoughtfulness, generosity, peace, and goodwill.

He is saddened that so many professing Christians have beaten the germ out of the holidays and are content to be malnourished on the white bread of a soulless celebration; further, he is appalled by the hypocrisy of the Keep-Christ-In-Christmas Warriors who annually wage a War Over Christmas while they themselves have betrayed and desecrated the holidays. Their Christian Music radio stations begin playing Christmas music out of season on the morning after Thanksgiving — commonly known as Black Friday in the world of commerce. And when Christmas Day falls on a Sunday — as it will this year — many of their churches cancel services on the second holiest day of the Christian year, so that their congregants can engage in the secular ritual of exchanging gifts. This hypocrisy would be merely contemptible if they only kept it amongst themselves; however, they see fit to exacerbate their shame by going about castigating non-Christians for supplying them with the materials for their revels without expressing out of season the formula, "Merry Christmas." Thus, they elevate what would be only contemptible behavior into behavior that is truly despicable.

That said, having called a spade a spade, your editor wishes to preserve the spirit of thoughtfulness, generosity, peace, and goodwill by wishing these Warriors all the best: that they use this season to pause and look within themselves and reflect upon their delusions and their actions and the consequences of their mean-spiritedness. May they put down that misappropriated sword and stamp out that five-fingered fire that their Savior said was his, and not theirs, and may they embrace his spirit of lovingkindness — for themselves and for all the rest of us — as he instructed them to do. And may the Reason for the Season be what he embodied, and not what the poisoners-of-the-mind in our age have whispered into their ears.

O come, O come, Immanuel.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Thursday, November 3, 2016
Welcome rain fell across the southern half of the state today, with preliminary reports of .80 inches in Portland and nearly a half inch in Bangor by midevening. The National Drought Mitigation Center still considers several southwestern counties of Maine to be in Severe Drought status, with much of interior Maine in Moderate Drought status.

Starry skies will return tomorrow evening. Here's a few of the features of November's skies to look out for:

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Friday, October 28, 2016
Another year of publication begins this evening for Our Humble Almanac, which has completed its 13th year in print and, with this Observation, begins its 14th. And, again this year, our natal festivities are accompanied by boisterous weather. A gale-like low pressure chased by a cold front has brought much needed relief to severe drought conditions in southern Maine and, at times, gusty winds that knocked over lawn furniture around town and one dead tree along the lane that leads to our offices.

This Almanac owes its existence to boisterous weather, the end product of enthusiastic conversations between a couple of extreme-weather lovers in Bangor, Maine. It remains in print because, let's face it, all Olde Yankees love a good weather-related yarn, and even if you weren't "bawn heeyuh," the first sign that you're becoming one of us is a developing fascination with all things meteorological. As always, here's a clipping of our very first entry.

October 28, 2003

The combination of astronomical high tide with run-off from recent heavy rains and the meltage of several inches of snowfall in the north brought the Kenduskeag Stream and Penobscot River to unusually high levels at the noon high tide.

The river had slopped over its banks on the Brewer side near the Muddy Rudder Restaurant and on the Bangor side near the Estevan Gomez monument.

The Kenduskeag had risen to the footbridge near Bangor Savings Bank, such that one could not have swum under it with much of one's head above water level. The high water mark in the canal was at the bevel on the ledge which is just a yard or so below the railing, and at some points along the river walk had just slightly exceeded it.

We noted at the evening low tide that the stream was gushing past the Central Building on Central Street and that the river was still unusually high, as could be observed from the Chamberlain Bridge. It was a "late September day," as the high reached into the lower 60s under mostly sunny skies. We are trying to adjust to the early darkfall, in these first days of Eastern Standard Time. (CQ)

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Thursday, October 27, 2016
It has been many an October since we've been able to reprint the essay linked below. It used to be an annual ritual, but a combination several years back of inadequate backing-up of files on the part of yours truly with the unscrupulous behavior of a former website host caused the file to be lost for what we thought would be forever. Yet, earlier this Fall, we discovered a copy on an old hard drive — precisely the reason Olde Yankees never throw anything away. So it is with great pleasure that Our Humble Almanac presents one of our favorite ruminations over the mysteries of one of our fellow mortals. Enjoy it here.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Saturday, September 17, 2016
Now that Karl has formed as the eleventh named storm of the 2016 hurricane season, putting us halfway down the list of names for this year, and promising to develop into the fifth hurricane of the season, and also threatening a high likelihood of at least a brush with Our Fair State, we've added a few links to the Weather Page. These can be found in the Hurricane Watch section, and include the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (why didn't we have this before?) and an extended version of the same, and the National Hurricane Center's Tropical Cyclone Names list, which shows the names of qualifying storms for the next six years, in all the tropical basins on Earth — just in case you were wondering what will be the name of the next typhoon to slam Taiwan.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Monday, September 12, 2016
A lot of people consider the Autumn night sky a little lackluster. And it may seem all the more so this year, as the planetary Big Show of the Summer — featuring Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn — winds down, but there is still more to autumnal astronomy than waiting for the Winter dazzlers to arrive. A few pointers can be found in this month's edition of Tonight's Sky, from the Hubble site.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Sunday, September 4, 2016
Hermine, erstwhile hurricane and, now, post-tropical cyclone, is apparently a storm with little historical precedent. Its closest kin may be the so-called and storied Perfect Storm of 1991 and, more ominously, the so-called Frankenstorm of 2012, aka, Sandy. But even these comparisons may not be entirely apt. A good explanation of the situation comes from meteorologist Eric Holthaus — and from a somewhat unusual venue: the website of statistician Nate Silver. It's of interest to people who like stats, because there's discussion of how forecasts are made in general and how the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center are handling forecasts in this brave, new world of global warming. However, before that comes a fascinating description of an — until now, perhaps — unusual storm. Read it here.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Monday, August 29, 2016
Welcome to the Anthropocene!

As widely expected, the Working Group on the Anthropocene, a committee of the International Commission on Stratigraphy today recommended at the meeting of the International Geological Congress in Cape Town that the ICS declare the Earth to have entered a new geological epoch. The Anthropocene would succeed the Holocene, which began about 12,000 years ago, as world temperatures began to stabilize after the glaciers retreated near to their present locations. The new epoch's beginning will be pegged to ca 1950, at the beginning of the Atomic Age, which dispersed radioactive particles and elements across the globe during nuclear bomb tests, though other markers will include plastic pollution, soot from power stations, concrete, and even the bones left by the global proliferation of the domestic chicken.

Stratigraphers study the layers in rock, such as the iridium layer left about 66 million years ago by a titanic asteroid that struck the Earth on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Irirdium is a very rare element on earth, but abundant in outer space objects, such as asteroids. The iridium layer was discovered in Italy in the 1970s and later discovered in rocks around the world. Below the iridium layer, dinosaur fossils are abundant, but they are absent above the iridium layer. The layer, also known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary, marks the end of the Cretaceous Period, which had begun around 145 million years ago, and the beginning of the Paleogene. The stratigraphers in the Working Group believe that people, say, 100 millions years from now, will be able to detect in rock formations the effect of human activity upon the Earth, and that the new layer will be traced to the middle of the 20th Century.

The ICS will examine the evidence and ponder the question in the weeks and months ahead. More on today's story can be found here.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Earth has a second satellite, according to recent reports. It's an asteroid called 2016 HO3, that technically is in orbit around the sun, but about a century ago swerved so close to the orbit of the Earth that it appears to be caught in our orbit as well. It's not as recondite as it may sound, but a good explanation will require a few more words than we'll spill here. The full story from NASA, in layperson's language, can be found here. The video embedded in the story is recommended viewing.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Wednesday, June 1, 2016
The first of June turns more than one page. It's the beginning of Meteorological Summer — not to be confused with Astronomical Summer, which will begin on the evening of June 20th. It's also the first day of the 2016 Hurricane Season, and while we've had no hurricanes yet in the Atlantic Basin, there have been two named storms; Nature is champing at the bit. Meanwhile, the peepers have almost gone out of business, replaced by the croakers. I heard just one peeper this evening in the Pond in the Woods. The season rushes on. Further afield, Mars is the hot attraction in the night sky these days, making its closest approach to Earth in a decade or so, and can be found, ironically, just beyond the snappers of Scorpius. I say ironically, because the heart of the Scorpion is a red giant star named Antares, the "not Mars." It is said to have been so named to help astronomers remember that it was not the planet it resembles. Mars shares the stage with golden Jupiter, ahead through the night to the west, and still bright, though long past its own opposition. The past few nights of warm but dry weather has made for clear and comfortable viewing, as will some nights to come in the latter half of the week, after the warm front passes tomorrow.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Sunday, May 1, 2016
We were remiss last month, and neglected to post the Tonight's Sky module from the Hubble Site. April is, indeed, the cruelest month: so much to do! We'll ensure that doesn't happen in the merry month of May, by posting it right out of the gate. Enjoy!

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Thursday, March 31, 2016
Peepers began singing for the first time this year in the Pond In The Woods. This is the fifth peepers season for the Almanac in Yarmouth, and they've begun the chorus earlier each year since we've been here, but this is the first time they've been heard in the month of March, even by accounts of old-timers.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Tuesday, March 9, 2016
In a year when setting new temperature records is becoming more the rule than the exception, today's stood out, simply by virtue of how it felt "on the ground." It was no abstraction, but much wonderment, to be walking around in temperatures "normal" for the third week in May. At 11 this morning, the temperature in Portland was 60 degrees, which broke the old record for March 9th of 55 from 2012. The high for the afternoon was 66 in Portland, and in Concord and Manchester, New Hampshire, the high was 77.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Saturday, March 5, 2016
Jupiter is nearing full opposition and blazes in the eastern sky in the early evening. Leo dominates the east by darkfall. The Big Dipper spends the evening balancing on its handle. Orion is fading into the west. The constellations are heralding spring. More on this month's coming attractions from the HubbleSite:

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Monday, February 15, 2016
Yesterday's low temperature of 12 below at the Gray NWS station was a record for February 14th, exceeding by a degree the old record set in 2003, but three degrees short of the all-time record for that office. Still, it was the exception that proved the rule of this winter. As of yesterday, the Departure From Normal column in the Degree Days Since December 1 row is –479.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Sunday, February 14, 2016
The NWS office in Gray last night tweeted that 15 below is the all-time record low temperature at that station and that they might close in on that record by morning, having already reached 10 below before 10 pm. The official Daily Climate Report won't be issued until tomorrow morning, but in the absence of a tweet today, it looks like it was close, but no cigar. Meanwhile, the Caribou NWS office tweets that Big Black River, the site of Maine's all-time record low (see the Observation for January 16th, below) was the state's coldest spot this morning, at 32 below.

However, the cold wasn't the only headline from Our Fair State yesterday. Matinicus Island recorded a 25-inch snowfall, and Vinalhaven received 22 inches. Isle Au Haut and Deer Isle each recorded over a foot. In this very localized event, much of the surrounding area saw less than half a foot, and most of the state less than an inch.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Thursday, February 11, 2016
Wow. That's the only word I've been able to utter on this day that the announcement came from Washington that Albert Einstein's theory of gravitational waves and of the existence of black holes has withstood the rigors of scientific testing. Others have managed to be more articulate.

Astronomy journalist Stuart Clark:
Today is not the end of a search, but a beginning. It is the beginning of gravitational wave astronomy. Prepare for the wonders to come.

Luis Lehner, a faculty member from Perimeter Institute:
Astronomy to date has been like watching people come out from a movie and trying to guess the story by the look of their faces. Now, he says, gravitational waves allow us to look inside the theatre and read the plot. Lehner suggests that the discover today is so revolutionary that perhaps we should start a new calendar AGW — After Gravitational Waves.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Thursday, February 4, 2016
In most years, Winter stargazing requires the fortitude to bear the coldest of nights, since those are usually the clearest. That's still true this year, though the term "coldest" is a relative one at that! Here are the highlights of this month's sky, from the Hubblesite:

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Saturday, January 16, 2016
Seven years ago this morning, Big Black River, Maine, put the state on the national weather map when a thermometer there registered a low temperature for that day at 50 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. It was an all-time low temperature reading for the state, and provided plenty of opportunity for people across the country to wonder why anyone stays in Maine after Labor Day. With pipes bursting and noses going numb in the frigid air, that thought must have occurred to at least a few Mainers that day.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Friday, January 15, 2016
The Atlantic Hurricane Season doesn't begin for another four-and-a-half months, but nevermind: there's a hurricane in the Atlantic today. A hurricane hasn't formed in the Atlantic in January since 1938, though a hurricane that formed late in December, 1954, lasted into the month of January, 1955. Alex is packing sustained winds of 85 miles an hour, and warnings are going up in the Azores. The National Hurricane Center in Miami has woken its website out of its winter hibernation for the time being.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Tuesday, January 12, 2016
At 10:41 this evening, there was a bolt of lightning and a peal of thunder. Earlier in the day, the National Weather Service had warned that there was suffient potential for convection, unusual at this time of year, to produce just such an effect, and that no one should be surprised at the outcome. Still, to have seen and heard the blast, and then to look out the window to see a heavy fall of snow, was to have been forewarned but not forearmed.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Sunday, January 10, 2016
A placid evening follows a rather boisterous day. Nearly two inches of rain fell in Portland, and wind gusts near 50 miles per hour were recorded in some parts of the state. Portland's high temperature today was 52 degrees, which breaks the old record for this day set in 2000. What had been a thin blanket of snow in the backyard and a thin blanket of ice in the driveway this morning is now also a thing of the past.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Wednesday, January 6, 2016
It is Twelfth Night, Epiphany, Three Kings Day, and, in the Eastern calendar, Christmas Eve. But secularists also have reason to celebrate: as of tomorrow the days will start getting longer on both ends.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Monday, January 4, 2016
January is a great month for stargazing. Some of the brightest stars visible from Earth are high in the sky early in the evening. Dress warmly. Here's the latest edition of Tonight's Sky from the Hubblesite:

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Friday, January 1, 2016
With the office closed for the day, we worked on the Weather Page, updating broken links and adding some new links. NOAA last year moved quite a several of their sites to new addresses, and we, being practical Yankees, decided to wait until the dust settled to repair our broken links en masse. Among the new pages are some cool graphical tools, such as Earth and NOAA Weather View. Have a gander! Please find them in the Maps & Satellite Graphics section.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Friday, December 25, 2015
New high temperature records were set across New England today. In Portland, the high was 62, which broke the previous high temperature of 53, set in 2014 and 1994. The period of record is from 1940 to today.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Thursday, December 24, 2015
A waxing gibbous moon shines through a veil of cirrus tonight. It will be a full Christmas moon tomorrow for the first time since 1977. If memory seems to suggest that you've seen it since then, that's because it has come close on three occasions since December 25, 1977. In 1996, the moon was full on Christmas Eve; in 2004, it was full on December 26, the Feast of St Stephen; and in 2007, it was full again on Christmas Eve.

The official time of tomorrow's full moon, by the way, is 11:11 A.M., Eastern U.S. time. The next time we'll see a full moon on Christmas will be 2034.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Wednesday, December 2, 2015
There is a well-founded rumor among naked-eye astronomers that winter is the best season for viewing the night sky. It's not quite Winter, but the party is already underway! Here's this month's Tonight's Sky from the good folk at the HubbleSite:

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Monday, November 23, 2015
The first snow of the season was found dusted upon the ground this morning. Word reached our office earlier in the month of snowfall in the higher elevations of the state, but this was the first for Our Little Town. Most of it was gone by noon, but patches of it persisted in spots protected from direct sunlight until the sun went down on this day.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Wednesday, October 28, 2015
We begin our 13th year of publication this evening, with the remnants of Hurricane Patricia — the largest storm on record in basins where tropical cyclones are called hurricanes — full upon us. This storm is expected to deliver between 2 and 3 inches of rain and winds frisky enough to prompt advisories from the National Weather Service. It follows a storm earlier this Fall that dumped nearly two months' worth of rain in a day. This almanac was born 12 years ago tonight of conversations between a couple of weather watchers about some boisterous weather that month. At the time, yours truly resided in Bangor, Maine. Here's a reprint of our first Observation.

October 28, 2003

The combination of astronomical high tide with run-off from recent heavy rains and the meltage of several inches of snowfall in the north brought the Kenduskeag Stream and Penobscot River to unusually high levels at the noon high tide.

The river had slopped over its banks on the Brewer side near the Muddy Rudder Restaurant and on the Bangor side near the Estevan Gomez monument.

The Kenduskeag had risen to the footbridge near Bangor Savings Bank, such that one could not have swum under it with much of one's head above water level. The high water mark in the canal was at the bevel on the ledge which is just a yard or so below the railing, and at some points along the river walk had just slightly exceeded it.

We noted at the evening low tide that the stream was gushing past the Central Building on Central Street and that the river was still unusually high, as could be observed from the Chamberlain Bridge. It was a "late September day," as the high reached into the lower 60s under mostly sunny skies. We are trying to adjust to the early darkfall, in these first days of Eastern Standard Time. (CQ)

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Monday, October 19, 2015
Yesterday morning, we hit the first subfreezing temperature this side of Summer. The thermometer in Portland sank all the way to 27, a depth exceeded this morning with a reading at 23.

It may be cold comfort now, a little more than a fortnight from November, but the National Weather Service says that September was the warmest on record for Portland, and the warmest since 1961.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Thursday, October 15, 2015
For the first time this side of summer, I found frost on the windshield of the car this morning. It's just hoarfrost, not the more serious version that will follow soon enough, but it nonetheless had the feel of Winter's shot across the bow.

Yours truly,
Colby Quid


Wednesday, October 14, 2015
October is all but half gone, so we're posting this month's Tonight's Sky module from the fine folks at the HubbleSite not a moment too soon. However, don't despair: some of the best heavenly shows are yet to come, including a triple conjunction for the larks among us and a meteor shower for the owls. And, as every year, the Autumn begins to deliver up the bright fires of Winter, without the winter cold. So, any night without clouds is a treat! Enjoy!

Yours truly,
Colby Quid




November's
Sun

(All rise & set times noted in 24 hour terms)

1st
R: 0717
S: 1731

8th
R: 0627
S: 1622

15th
R: 0636
S: 1615

22nd
R: 0645
S: 1609

28th
R: 0652
S: 1606

Year At A Glance

November's
Moons



FQ 7th


Full 14th


LQ 21st


New 29th

The Moon Today

Moon Rise/Set


The original material on this site is copyright © 2003 - 2016 by Colby Quid. All rights reserved. ◊
The information on this site is for informational and educational purposes only. No warranties are made express or implied about the accuracy, timeliness, merit, or value of the information provided, and the editor shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of such information. Portions of the information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this site does so at his or her own risk. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products, services or commercial information mentioned in this web site. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied. ◊