It is that time of year to dispel myths, chase away indecision, and firm up the terminology. It is time to define “Indian Summer”. Seasoned readers have been through this before. Please have patience for the first-timers.
It all started with anebulous definition of Indian Summer which caused many disagreements when I first started forecasting the weather. It turns out that there was no clearly defined criteria for Indian Summer, except that it had to occur after the first frost (which happened in our area last week). A consortium of radio Djs and myself decided that an Indian Summer day must have a high temperature 10 degrees or warmer than normal. The day would also have to be substantially “nice”. Any type of inclement weather would relegate the day to the category of “Indian Summer-like weather”. Too windy, too bad, it is not Indian Summer weather. Cloudy for most of the day, too bad, not Indian Summer weather. Rain most of the day, too bad, not Indian summer weather. So don’t get caught in the trap of declaring a day “Indian Summer” without some thought.
Some people have also wondered when the period for Indian Summer ends? It ends November 30th or the date of the first measurable snowfall. November 30th is the climatological end of Fall. We can’t be having Indian Summer during winter now can we? Also, the first measurable snow is a sign of the change in seasons.
Can we go an entire Fall season without true Indian Summer? Sure. It might happen this year. Can we have multiple episodes of Indian Summer weather? Yes we can. It has happened a couple times this decade.
So is there any true Indian Summer weather on the way anytime soon? Not a chance. The next 7 to 10 days look well below normal. We will have to wait until later in October or November.
Can you believe it has been 5 years since the X-prize was won? Here is a very positive article commemorating the event. I am not quite as positive, but I am not negative either. Positive aspects: private space companies continue to move slowly forward with their plans for sub-orbital flight and space tourism. Negative aspects: private space companies continue to move sloooowly forward with their plans for sub-orbital flight and space tourism. I realize that the infrastructure needed for space flight is rather substantial. Pouring cement for launch pads, building space ships, and testing rockets is heavy industry-type work. It is a lot different than most of the “small” technology we are used to dealing with such as cell phones, computers, and software. Still, 5 years is a long time and there doesn’t seem to be any acceleration in timelines. I guess I should be happy that most of the private operations survived the economic downturn.
The same cannot be said for NASA. Their budget gets cut every year and they are having a tough time with human exploration plans. Here is an interview with a former NASA astronaut and founder of Ad Astra Rocket Technology. He says NASA should focus on the space frontier – going farther out with robotic exploration – while private space companies focus on low earth orbit and potential moon and asteroid bases. I agree. The sooner private companies figure out a way to make money in space the sooner all of us will have the opportunity to become space explorers and tourists ourselves.
Not only are private companies pushing the boundaries of space flight, private individuals are taking awesome pictures of the night sky. Take a look at these amatuer photos. It just goes to show that technology is helping common people accomplish what was once the province of professionals.
Speaking of space photos; Messenger has returned some new close-up photos of Mercury, including the mysterious bright spot.
I have covered potential exploration to Europa over the last couple of years. It is a difficult mission because any probe that lands on the surface will have to melt or drill through a thick sheet of ice. Mission planners have recently scoped out some potential landing sites.
Lastly, would you believe shaded areas of the Moon are the coldest places in the solar system? That is according to data returned by LCROSS. Actually, it might not be the coldest place in the solar system, just that it is the coldest that has yet been measured.
Have a nice Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
Posted under Space
This post was written by jloew on October 5, 2009