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


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




September's
Sun

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

1st
R: 0605
S: 1915

8th
R: 0613
S: 1903

15th
R: 0621
S: 1850

22nd
R: 0628
S: 1837

28th
R: 0635
S: 1826

Year At A Glance

September's
Moons



New 1st


FQ 9th


Full 16th


LQ 23rd

The Moon Today

Moon Rise/Set


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