Eclipse viewing thwarted by clouds,

Aug. 22nd, 2017 08:31 am
jennlk: (sunflower)
[personal profile] jennlk
for the most part. We reached 90% cloud cover just as the moon started to block the sun, and got a thunderstorm just about the same time as we got to max coverage. It got dark there for a while --much darker than the usual August storm -- but there wasn't anything to see.

DB's friends explained that the reason you shouldn't look at the sun during an eclipse is that the Sun gets a +10 Backstabbing multiplier. kids these days. They're not wrong, though.
[syndicated profile] crosscutnews_feed

Posted by Allegra Abramo

A hybrid-electric ferry, the Vision of the Fjords.

Washington is poised to embark on an experiment in electric car ferries that could eventually transform the largest ferry fleet in the nation. And little Skagit County is leading the way, as it moves to replace its old diesel-powered Guemes Island ferry with a battery-powered, zero emissions model.

That would make the run between Anacortes and the island the first all-electric car ferry in the nation, and one of the first in the world.

Ditching diesel ferries in favor of all-electric or hybrid vessels would have far-reaching benefits, proponents say, including cleaner air and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. And the quieter electric engines would reduce underwater noise, which scientists now recognize as a key threat to the survival of endangered killer whales, salmon and other marine wildlife.

“There’s just so many benefits from this,” said Skagit County Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt, who is leading the charge on the Guemes Island ferry.

Inspired by Norway’s recent embrace of electric ferries, Dahlstedt saw an opportunity to try out the technology in his county, which was in the market for a new ferry. The 38-year-old diesel clunker is on its last legs, and maintenance costs have become prohibitive.

The short Guemes Island run, at just over half a mile, “is a perfect place to start for a pilot project,” Dalhstedt said. “But our ferry is really only the tip of the spear. We’re hoping that we can be the pioneers here in the U.S.”

The Guemes Island ferry in operation
The Guemes Island ferry in operation. Credit: Courtesy of Skagit County

Washington State Ferries is also studying the idea of converting some of its 22 vessels to hybrid electric, after a multi-year effort to move to liquefied natural gas stalled due to lack of funding from Olympia. Electric technology “is something we’re really excited about,” said Ian Sterling, public information officer for State Ferries.

Many state ferries already have electric motors, but that electricity is generated by a diesel engine. So it should be relatively simple to use a big battery to generate power, Sterling said. The ferries would still have diesel engines but would run off a battery when possible.

“So it’s a pretty cool thing, and with the battery technology becoming more mature, it’s become much more realistic for us,” Sterling said. “And it’s also something we believe would … pay for itself relatively quickly.”

However, Sterling cautioned, it’s premature to speculate on costs or a timetable.

In the years the state spent considering liquefied natural gas as a cleaner alternative to diesel, other countries have moved on to electric. Norway is now converting dozens of routes to all-electric or plug-in hybrids.

A similar effort in Washington could slash the state’s marine emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. A new electric Guemes Island ferry alone would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 620 metric tons a year, the county estimates. That’s the equivalent of taking about 132 cars off the road.

While battery-only ferries might not be feasible for some longer routes, even hybrid engines could dramatically trim the 18 million gallons of diesel Washington State Ferries use each year. Imagine that reduction in terms of the controversial coal trains that go rolling through Puget Sound, Skagit’s Dahlstedt said. Converting all state ferries to electric “would eliminate a coal train worth of carbon dioxide per year,” he said.

Electric-powered ferries would not only make the air cleaner for people, but could also make the waters quieter for the region’s struggling Southern Resident killer whale, or Orca, population.

Noise from ships and boats interferes with Orca’s ability to locate increasingly scarce Chinook salmon and to communicate with each other. Rising underwater noise levels, combined with declining prey and chemical contaminants, are threatening the animals’ survival. Ferries are one of the top sources of overall underwater vessel noise, a recent study for the Port of Vancouver in Canada found, because of the high quantity of vessel (or ferry) trips and the amount of time they spend on the water. Using electric and hybrid engines is one way to reduce vessel noise, another port study concluded.

Trimming long-term maintenance and operational costs is another benefit of electric ferries, said Bruce Agnew, director of the Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center for Regional Development, which promotes transportation and sustainable development issues across Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

With access to inexpensive hydropower, the state and counties would save money on diesel fuel. That means more money for maintenance, and thus better service, Agnew said. The state has struggled to keep its aging fleet running, often resulting in service cuts. In recent weeks, two broken Washington State Ferries have led to canceled sailings and major delays on San Juan Island routes.

But the up-front costs of electric ferries and related infrastructure, such as battery charging stations, can be daunting, especially given other transportation needs in a rapidly growing region.

Skagit County said it is still nailing down the exact costs for the new Guemes Island ferry, but based on Norway’s experience, the full project could run roughly $20 million. “And for a small county, $20 million… is a big lift,” Agnew said.

A new diesel ferry would cost $12 to $16 million, according to Skagit County’s public works director, Dan Berentson. Charging stations and other one-time facility improvements needed for an electric ferry account for most of the price difference.

Skagit County is moving ahead with plans to have the new Guemes Island ferry on the water by 2020. Officials there received a study in 2016 that laid out options for powering the ferry; it concluded that an all-electric propulsion system “is highly feasible for this particular route and its unique environmental conditions.”

The county recently contracted with the Seattle naval architecture firm Glosten to complete a partial design for a new Guemes Island ferry by the end of the year. That will allow the county to better estimate costs and begin applying for grants, Berentson said. On Aug. 29, the county commissioners will hold a meeting to discuss the plans to use all-electric technology with residents.

The project’s boosters say the ferry, which will likely be built in-state, could help make Washington a center of innovation for electric propulsion, not just for ferries, but for all types of ships.

“If the technology pans out as we expect it will, it could have major implications on all maritime traffic coming in and out of the Salish Sea,” Agnew said. “This could put the Salish Sea on the map, politically and environmentally.”

Interesting Links for 22-08-2017

Aug. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm

Minimum

Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:40 am
supergee: (thumb)
[personal profile] supergee
Radical suggestion from Jim Wright: We all agree we’re against slavery & Nazism. I’m in.
[syndicated profile] dictionary_wotd_feed
Comstockery: overzealous moral censorship of the fine arts and literature, often mistaking outspokenly honest works for salacious ones.
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
[personal profile] tamaranth
2017/69: Christopher Wild -- Kathe Koja
The will is honed, trained, playful, relentless, the mind its twin in dark exuberance and nerve; and the body breathes in and out, one with the breathing world,rapt and glorying in even the smallest things -- the feel of breeze on bare skin,the vagrant scent of smoke, pink glitter of rain on a neon sign,the humble heat of bodies massed together on the train -- and all the vehicle and joy and habitation of Chris Marley, Christopher to his friends, his name a dare and a beacon, symbol and sigil, the poet's name, X04. [p. 195]

non-spoilery but long )

Comic for August 22, 2017

Aug. 22nd, 2017 11:59 pm
[syndicated profile] dilbert_feed
Dilbert readers - Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.

About that eclipse today?

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:06 pm
dewline: (Default)
[personal profile] dewline
I was in the office at the day job, so I had to miss it.

An Eclipse Thing I Did Not Expect

Aug. 21st, 2017 05:35 pm
peristaltor: (Default)
[personal profile] peristaltor
I got a good shot of… hard to explain.


An eclipse at 92%
as viewed through cedar trees.


Essentially, a whole wall at work was filled with the same crescent image. It was cool.

In total awe

Aug. 22nd, 2017 12:02 am
[syndicated profile] crosscutnews_feed

Posted by Matt Mills McKnight

Visitors at SolarTown Festival seen viewing the totality phase during a total solar eclipse within the path of totality in Madras, Oregon on Monday, August 21, 2017.(Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

MADRAS, OR — Monday’s solar eclipse atop Oregon’s high desert started at sunrise, when thousands of eclipse hunters including myself looked to the west with concern, noticing the tinge of smoke that filled the sky from a nearby wildfire.

But prevailing winds pushed it away as the sun rose, setting the stage for an unencumbered view from within the 70-mile Path of Totality that stretched across this country.

While standing on the ground in those last few moments there is a tension in the air, like something big is about to happen.

The group I’m standing next to at SolarFest can see shadows slowly washing over the land. I get goosebumps all over my arms — I doubt I’m the only one.

The temperature quickly drops. Like an entire day’s change in high to low temperature is being fast-forwarded.

And then this moment happens: the universe suddenly turns off the light and we are left standing in a gigantic moon shadow, awed by the sight of the sun’s fiery corona.

At this very moment, it’s safe to take off our eclipse-watching glasses and view this mysterious black hole sun.

Another look out along the horizon and I can see light advancing to return us from the eerie nightscape back to mid-morning.

There’s ooooh’s and aaaah’s in the large crowd. “Amazing!” someone shouts as we’re all left stupefied for a few more seconds.

And then our brief time in the Path of Totality ends just as quickly as it began. Next time it will be somewhere else, maybe in a far-flung land where others will have this same shared experience that thousands in this town and millions across the United States were able to share today.

It’s that shared experience that made being in the Path of Totality so unique.

Happy Eclipse Day!

Aug. 21st, 2017 11:35 pm
[syndicated profile] jim_hines_feed

Posted by Jim C. Hines

We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:

Pinhole Eclipse Projection

I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.

I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.

Solar Eclipse Animation

Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)

Eclipse - Time Lapse

Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!

Happy Eclipse Day!

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:35 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

We didn’t make it down to see totality, but my part of Michigan got about 80% eclipse coverage today, which was still pretty sweet. My son and I went to a library presentation this morning, where I was reminded about pinhole viewing, which led to this:

Pinhole Eclipse Projection

I’d ordered a solar filter for the 100-400mm lens on the camera. We also had some eclipse glasses from Amazon from a few weeks back.

I took a little over a hundred pictures, and was able to stitch some of the best into an animation.

Solar Eclipse Animation

Those black spots are sunspots. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

I also stitched together a static time-lapse, and added back a bit of color the filter stripped out. (Click to enlarge this one for a much better view.)

Eclipse - Time Lapse

Didn’t get much else done today, but I’m okay with that. And maybe for the 2024, we’ll be able to make it down to see the total eclipse!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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