NASA Images of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey on 26 Aug at 5:45 PM CDT (2245 UTC), as captured by NOAA’s GOES-East satellite. Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project.

NASA’s page on Hurricane Harvey has been updated many times, sometimes several times a day, since Harvey began its life as Tropical Depression 9 on 17 August. It includes plenty of satellite imagery of the storm, as well as temperature and rainfall maps.

Pre-2016 Archives Offline

Blog posts prior to January 2016 are offline for the time being, the result of my changing this site to a new FTP user account on the same server without taking into account some of the hard links in the PHP code of my legacy pages. Sorry about that. I think I have some idea how to get them back up and running; I’ll let you know when I do.

An Almost-Too-Late Roundup of Historical and Unusual Eclipse Maps

I meant to post this before today’s solar eclipse, but I spent a good chunk of the past few days dealing with basic site maintenance; during the eclipse itself I was, well, observing and photographing it. But while the iron may not be as red-hot as it was even eight hours ago, it’s still glowing a bit, so how about I clear out some bookmarks:

Eclipse maps that pinpoint the zone of totality date back to the eighteenth century. Atlas Obscura looks at those early eclipse maps, notably those from Edmond Halley.

In the runup to the eclipse there have been some seriously weird and quirky eclipse maps, many of which correlating the path of the eclipse to utterly unrelated things. The first one I saw was this one: the path of the eclipse versus bigfoot sightings.

There have been others. Many others, to the point of absurdity. Maps on the Web has been collecting these maps over the past few weeks, and All Over the Map’s roundup of eclipse maps features them as well.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog noted the eerie correlation between Google searches about the eclipse and the path of the eclipse itself:

Washington Post

Finally, people were watching traffic maps to track the number of people travelling to watch the eclipse. Apparently eclipse-related traffic congestion was a thing. (Here’s Michael Zeiler’s forecast, based on population statistics.)

‘The Messed Up Mountains of Middle-earth’

Science fiction/fantasy novelist Alex Acks, a geologist by training, has some issues with Middle-earth’s mountain ranges. “Middle-earth’s got 99 problems, and mountains are basically 98 of them.” Basically it comes down to how Tolkien’s mountain ranges intersect at right angles—and mountains don’t do that.

And Mordor? Oh, I don’t even want to talk about Mordor.

Tectonic plates don’t tend to collide at neat right angles, let alone in some configuration as to create a nearly perfect box of mountains in the middle of a continent. […]

To be fair to J.R.R. Tolkien, while continental drift was a theory making headway in the world of geology from 1910 onwards, plate tectonics didn’t arrive on the scene until the mid-50s, and then it took a little while to become accepted science. (Though goodness, plate tectonics came down—I have it on good authority from geologists who were alive and in school at the time that it was like the holy light of understanding shining forth. Suddenly, so many things made sense.) Fantasy maps drawn after the 1960s don’t get even that overly generous pass.

And here I thought Tolkien’s mountains were better than most—but then I’m no geologist, and also than most may not be saying that much.