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Friday, August 01, 2008


Southern Skywatch August edition is now up.

The western horizon from Adelaide at 6:10 pm on August 2 (similar views will be seen elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere at around half an hour after sunset).

The August edition of Southern Skywatch is now up. We have an amazing Dance of the Planets, a partial Lunar eclipse, the Persiid meteor shower and more coming up this month.


Please delete this message!

My email address is: shunt1-AT-mchsi.com

There are many research papers which I need to provide you on this

subject and posting comments on your blog is not working.

I started out studying astrophysics when I was hired to working at an

observatory in 1972.

I first learned how to write software on an IBM 360 computer for the

purpose of analyzing the photographic plates obtained with a

spectrometer. I soon realized that computers would become my primary

form of employment, but I never forgot my roots.

Eventually, I ended up graduating with a degree in meteorology and was

assigned to the Atmospheric Sciences Libratory at White Sands Missile

Range, New Mexico. There, my knowledge of both meteorology and computer

programming launched me into something that I could never have dreamed


When the United Nations decided to use the military option against Iraq

in 1991, I ended up getting "nominated" to supply weather information

for the military forces. A satellite system that I had helped developed

only one year earlier, ended up as the military's primary data source.

That is when I learned how to exploit the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU)

which is currently being used for satellite analysis of our global

environment. I know how it works, understand it's problems, and why it

is an important tool for climatology.

As a trained meteorologist, I know how surface stations should obtain

their data each day. I have done this for years, and when there is a

problem at a specific station, I can identify what is wrong almost


One of the official GISS stations is located only 5 km from my home. I

live in the middle of corn fields, and if any station could be

considered as rural and almost perfect, Olivia would qualify. Until I

visited that weather station!

What the heck is going on?

Has nobody noticed such a major problem with our historical surface

weather recording stations?

Then I stumbled upon surfacestations.org and realized that another

meteorologist had also stumbled upon this problem of data quality


The rest is history, and what honest science should be all about...

When I said that I could provide you with GISS's FORTRAN/Python source

code, I was not joking.

Tonight, I am working with my Echelle spectrograph and imaging Beta

Lyra, because that has always been my love.
What YOU can do on those evenings when the Moon is causing problems with your observations:

“a tiny change in albedo makes large changes in temperatures.”

That is a subject which I have been researching for the last year, and for something so basic, there is almost no reliable data available.

When someone mentioned measuring Earthshine as a method of measuring albedo last year, I got involved. Instead of using neutral density filters like NASA was doing, I approached the problem from another direction.


In recent years, software has been developed to combine multiple images obtained using different exposure lenghts. High dynamic range imaging allowed me to measure Earthshine and this is how I attacked the problem.


Why such a basic and important measurement as albedo is not being tracked every day, is an absolute mystery to me.

Global coverage of the Moon's Earthshine is very important for a proper scientific analysis.

Australia would be a very important source of raw data for this project.
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