Astronomy Events – December 2013

Originally posted on Sky-Watching:

by yaska77

How did this happen? One minute we were lauding the approach of Spring and a few sleeps later it’s December. The year has gone all too rapidly for my liking.  My telescope must truly think I’ve abandoned it!

But, it may get used sooner than it thinks.  At the time of writing, comet ISON had just been killed by the intense heat and forces around the Sun, after reaching its closest point of pass (perihelion) on 28th November. But then like some galactic zombie it was suddenly back. Still unsure what has actually survived, scientists who previously called the death are now confirming something has endured the close encounter with our Sun.

After disappearing from view, much to the lament of astronomers worldwide, suddenly there was a hint of a tail emerging in the images obtained by probes close to the Sun. Then, it started getting…

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The 7 Best Houseplants for Beginners

Plants You Can’t Kill

By Jon VanZile

These houseplants are the best place to start your collection. They are all easy to grow and can generally withstand erratic watering, uneven or bad light, and fluctuating temperatures. They’ll thrive in dorm rooms, offices and sometimes even dismal corners.

Epipremnum-aureum-poznan-palmiarnia-abrimaalGolden pothos vine (Epipremnum pinnatum ‘aureum’)

There’s a reason this vine is one of the most popular hanging plants around. In its native habitat, golden pothos grows into a tree-swallowing monster with huge yellow and green leaves. As a houseplant, the plant will grow aggressively from pots or trailing baskets with minimal care. They will easily root in a simple glass of water. With better care, large, mottled, mature leaves may develop.

ChlorophytumCapenseSpider plant (Chlorophytum)

A well-grown spider plant is a magnificent thing. The plant grows easily in baskets or atop columns, with arching leaves. The variegated variety is by far the most common. Over time, a mature plant will send out plantlets or offsets on long stems that form an impressive hanging display. These plantlets can be easily potted up to create new specimens. Spider plants are not picky about water, light or temperature.

Snake_plantSnake plant and mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata and S. trifasciata laurentii)

Actually in the same family that includes dracaena and liriope, there are many varieties of sansevieria that are exceptionally tough. They like plenty of light, but they can handle less if necessary and they aren’t too particular about watering—providing there isn’t too much. When repotting is necessary, the main clump can be easily divided. These plants are striking additions to a collection. The snake plant features green on green bands on sword-like leaves, while the mother-in-law’s tongue has yellow leaf margins.

Dracaena species

There are many varieties of dracaena suitable for home growth. The D. Draco and D. Marginata are wonderfully easy plants that tolerate a wide variety of conditions. These plants feature arching leaves from a woody stem. Dracaena leaves can be green, yellow and green, or even tri-colored. Also a member of the agave family, they like to be regularly watered in the summer and almost left dry throughout the winter. D. Fragrans is often used to make the popular Ti plants, or false palms.

Succulents and Cacti

There are dozens of varieties of succulents and desert cacti flooding into garden centers and grocery stores. In general, succulents are desert plants with thick, fleshy leaves. Some of them have spines, and some none. Agave is an example of a popular succulent, along with aloe and popular echeveria rosettes. Cacti generally have spines and interesting leaf structures, including barrels, paddles and columns. As a class, succulents and cacti are slow growing and will withstand tremendous abuse. They do best with bright light, well-drained pots and little water. In the right placement, these are plants that truly thrive on neglect.


These plants have gained an unfair reputation, probably because of the difficulty required to coax a bloom from a bromeliad. It’s true that making these jungle plants bloom in the house is a tricky task. They require copious warmth and water, along with high humidity and filtered light, to produce their showy flower spikes. However, many species of bromeliads have beautiful leaves that are attractive by themselves. Bromeliads plants are usually watered by filling the central cup. They require little fertilizer, and when pups appear around the base of the plant, these can be potted up to increase your collection.

Lucky_bambooLucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)

Technically a dracaena species, lucky bamboo is the perennial office plant. Untold pots of these thrive in awful conditions, sporadically watered with bad lighting and poor air quality. Nevertheless, lucky bamboo lives on. These make wonderful gift plants, and many people believe they bring good luck and enhance the chi, or energy, of their surroundings.

It’s Redge Ranyard’s story …

Last week, John Boehner said that Republicans were locked in an “epic battle” to keep the government shutdown going.

As a World War II veteran, I fought in six epic battles. I helped fight the Nazis in the North African seas, and took part in operations that liberated Italy and the South of France, from Germany.

The Tea Party Shutdown is not an epic battle — it is bad governance.

Americans and veterans like me depend on our entire government being open.

I filmed a television ad with VoteVets, and it’s on the air starting today. I hope you’ll watch it and contribute to help keep it up.

After receiving General Wesley Clark‘s email last week, I responded with my personal story about how the shutdown impacts my life, while expressing my disgust with the Republican Party’s politicization of the World War II Memorial shortly after the shutdown began.

I served this nation with honor. Today, I can’t say the same thing about most Republicans in Congress.

Thank you for standing up for me,

Redge Ranyard
World War II Veteran

One of the first soldiers I lost in Iraq … LTG (Ret.) Ricardo Sanchez

One of the first soldiers I lost in Iraq wasn’t an American citizen.

His story began like many others who come to this country seeking a better life while giving back to their communities. Some do it through public service jobs and volunteerism, others in our churches and community centers.

He chose to do it through military service, but he lacked citizenship when he made his Final Journey home — despite the fact his sacrifice for our nation was just as enduring as those born here.

Comprehensive immigration reform recently passed the U.S. Senate but remains stuck, waiting for the House of Representatives to take action.

Please join me, VoteVets, and Daily Kos in signing a petition urging them to act now. Add your name to mine and we’ll deliver your message to House leadership.

My war experiences give me a perspective on this issue that very few others have. While in command of U.S. operations in Kosovo and Iraq, I learned the importance of controlling the borders — it was literally a life and death issue.

The bill that passed the Senate is a fair mix of proposals to secure our borders while providing immigrants an opportunity to give back to this great nation they already call home.

This is the right approach, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting it.

All the best,

LTG (Ret.) Ricardo Sanchez

Don’t surface mine Livingston Mountain

We strongly urge the Board of Commissioners to accept the unanimous recommendation of the Planning Commission to remove Livingston Mountain from the proposed update to the Surface Mining Overlay. The residential density of Livingston Mountain, along with unsuitable roads for this type of operation, makes this area a completely inappropriate area for mining.

The negative impacts to residents in an area around a mining operation include dangerous traffic conditions; loss of peace and tranquility due to the use of noisy, heavy trucks; damage to structures from shockwaves caused by mining explosions; and health hazards from silica-rich gravel dust.  Additionally, mining operations have a severe impact to the surrounding area’s surface water runoff, as well as the underground aquifers, wells, and wetlands in the area.

Given that there is already a mining concession on Livingston Mountain which is detrimental to this part of Clark County, we implore the Commissioners to take the necessary steps to ensure proper monitoring and enforcement of standards that protect public safety, water quality, noise, and traffic concerns that hurt the public good.  We support appointing a mining ombudsman to oversee the current mining operation to ensure compliance with appropriate public safety standards.

Finally, we insist that if there be any future proposals for mining on Livingston Mountain that they continue to be subjected to the legislative type IV land use review standards since these standards offer the greatest opportunity for public input.

                   Clark County Commissioners : Remove Livingston Mountain from the proposed update to the Surface Mining Overlay. 

  By Friends of Livingston Mountian
                                                Estacada, Oregon