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Groundhog Days 15/08/2015

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: The deerskin drum made a dull, thudding sound as I drummed in the day. And no wonder: With an orange sun rising, the thermometer showed seventy-two as I noted a heavy dew on the vegetation.

Another hot and muggy day in the offing, dawn was the time to look around at areas of wonder.

I noted, again, the lack of blossoms on the moonflower plants. Do they refrain from blooming during the dark of the Moon? I haven’t paid enough attention.


I saw that some of the beans are climbing more than head-high on one of the pear trees: a bit of successful permaculture.


I witnessed bumblebees stirring from sleep: Some had spent the night clinging to one of the cup plants.


And I marveled at the massive leaves of the elecampane that I started from seed four months ago.


Also visible: lingering evidence of depredation by the woodchuck that reappeared recently after several years’ absence from my yard. Is it a lone male? I haven’t seen any young’uns–nor do I want to. He was forced out of his preferred holes below the tower of the nearby high-voltage power line when Xcel began replacing all the towers back in April.

What a voracious lover of juicy leaves! He started on the biggest ones: broccoli and cabbage. He took off the growing ends of a couple of squash plants–maybe they weren’t juicy enough for a full meal. But he also chewed his way through half the parsley. Aarrgghhh.

He liked using the territory under the shed for one of his hangouts, where once I watched him from about six feet away, partially screened by a raspberry plant. His nose twitched aplenty, but his eyesight seemed poor. He moved mighty fast for such a low-to-the-ground critter. And he seems too clever to fall for the lure of a cage trap, especially when there’s plenty of fresh leaves available without leaving the block. In any case, he seems to have moved on . . . for now, anyway.

The Impatiens balsamina is waist-high and in full bloom, out front behind the black raspberry canes that have grown so extravagantly. They started blooming about a month ago: rather early, I thought.

It seems that a lot of veggies as well as perennials have been maturing prematurely. 

What’s up with that? Faulty recollection? Relative inexperience with gardening for food? Earth changes?

Though plenty of rain has fallen, and mostly in timely fashion, I would more likely attribute the ripening to abnormal heat. But with few exceptions, the days of this summer have been notably pleasant: cooler than average.

It’s amazing — yet not surprising, astro-meteorologically  — that the temperature has only reached 90 F thrice so far this summer. And yesterday was one. That compares with an average of about eight such days through early August.

No wonder the unofficial Twin Cities Summer Glory Index shows the summer of 2015, through 15 July, as very nearly the best ever recorded.


Sorry it hasn’t been so great out west and down south. Or in central and eastern Europe. Or in south Asia.

It’s odd, how easy it is to think of August around here as a dry month, when it’s actually the wettest: slightly wetter than June. Maybe it’s that the leaves on trees are getting to look dry and tattered, and vegetation on the ground is drying, ripening, going to seed. And human-wilting muggy days are more common.

Accordingly, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is showing the likelihood of heavy rain across southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin over the next week, especially on the 18th.


The forecast here for the week (14-21 August) following the New Moon was simple: “somewhat cooler, dry.” That was based largely on the primary indication in the New Moon chart: the cold earth sign Capricorn (where Saturn is lord) on the lower meridian. Capricorn is also apt to denote storminess, but other chart factors were not indicative. (The vertically-bisected circle within the outer ring of the chart below shows the upper meridian at the time of the New Moon, while the horizontally-bisected circle shows the zodiacal point on the eastern horizon.)


A significant shift in wind patterns affecting this latitude is shown by Mercury at the time of the New Moon exactly on the horizon of the season chart. This signifies the likelihood of notable wind events, but not necessarily precipitation.

What can bring rainfall is the Moon’s crossing of the horizon of the season chart, in the morning of the 16th. And in fact the Weather Service is forecasting rain on the 16th.

But a “slow moving low pressure system over Minnesota” on the 18th? Stalled-out situations and heavy storms seem more likely on the 21st and 22nd (as previously forecast), as the First Quarter Moon (and of course the Sun as well) is configured with Saturn.

Whose forecast for the week will be borne out: the astro-meteorologist’s or the techno-meteorologists’?


El Nino 03/12/2014

Posted by zoidion in forecast, Photography, Weather.
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Twin Cities ephemera: After an early bedtime following my dental adventure, I was out of bed and at my desk well over two hours before dawn today. While somewhat — I detest the commonplace “sort of / kind of” language — listening to some selections from the Jethro Tull playlist, I got my mind back into recent research into the El Nino meteorological phenomenon.

Periodically, I got up and went into the bathroom to look out the east-facing window. One time, I recalled the marvelous digital display of photographs of the sky that was presented at the ISAR conference back in September: photographs showing planets before dawn and after sunset:  photographs by Gary Caton and others.

A little later, noting the clarity of the first glow of dawn, I remembered: Oh yeah, Saturn now rises before the Sun! About fourteen degrees apart: Saturn “heliacally rising” out of the Sun’s beams. Maybe, without the blocked view afforded by the tall white pine across the alley, I could spot Saturn.

So I busied myself, putting on long underwear and the sweater that M made for me, and grabbing binoculars for a better chance at a sighting. I had to bundle up against the single-digit chill, but it was worth it: a good-enough excuse to get outside and walk. When I stopped at the top of the rise along the parkway, overlooking the golf course (near-future urban farm?), I heard the first clangs of the railroad crossing signal a block away, warning of yet another impending stoppage, just as the morning’s car culture crawl got underway. Another batch of empty oil cars would be heading west, destination: The Bakken. A few commuter cars sped by: drivers unwilling to wait.

I wandered through a small grove of short, sinuous pine trees toward a slightly higher elevation and perhaps a better vantage point. Stepping carefully to avoid a patch of ice, I stopped in front of the park bench and swept my view through the lenses up the slope of the far ridge. I noted a bright spot (probably a big flat-screen tv) in one of the front windows of that brick apartment building on the corner where the sidewalks are always so well shoveled, a single car weaving down St. Anthony Parkway, and the crown of a tree, taller than the others, at the top of the Parkway.

Looking level, I scanned back and forth, and up and down a little. (Someday, perhaps I’ll learn more accurately where to look.) No Saturn. At least I remembered to look up, high, to see Jupiter.

For months and months now, weather watchers and forecasters have been sifting through Pacific Ocean temperature data and asking: Will there be an El Nino in the winter of 2014-15? El Nino means wet weather for the southwestern USA, distinctly warmer than usual weather for a swath from Alaska through the northern Rocky Mountain region–and somewhat milder here in the center of the North American continent. For the big picture, see the NOAA map below. El Nino_world-map Southern California has already this week had a drenching rain–good for that area, mostly. But a single storm does not an El Nino make, or guarantee. Can astro-meteorology provide an answer? At this stage of investigating planetary patterns, I use a table I found listing twenty-two identified El Nino weather patterns, beginning in 1951-52, and rated weak (eight instances), moderate (eight) and strong (six). ElNino-table   It seems to me that one possible (major) indicator would be the signs occupied by Jupiter and Saturn, since they alone among the (visible) planets generally remain in a given sign through the setup (Northern Hemisphere autumn) and release (winter) phases. Mars can remain for as much as almost eight months in a single sign, when its retrograde phase is involved, or as little as one-and-a-half months centering on its conjunction with Sun; thus, I am inclined to discount Mars.

Not so much the sign, but the element, also seems crucial: fire, air, earth or water. The element — as in “principle” or “rudiment” — reflects the temperament of Earth, as Earth bathes in the energies of the cosmic environment. My theory is that El Nino seasons correlate most strongly with those when Jupiter and/or Saturn is/are in the warmer elements fire and/or air. (El Nino correlates most strongly with above-average warming of waters in the tropical Pacific.) If Jupiter and/or Saturn shift(s) sign / element during the period of late September through December, that indicates a change in the established meteorological pattern. When the change occurs affects the degree of change.

During the very strong El Nino of 1997-98, Jupiter was in airy Aquarius until early February, with Saturn in fiery Aries throughout. During the 1987-88 season, Jupiter was in fiery Aries, with Saturn in fiery Sagittarius until mid-February. However, in 1965-66, Jupiter moved from watery Cancer into airy Gemini in mid-November, while Saturn remained in watery Pisces throughout. In 1982-83, Jupiter shifted from watery Scorpio to fiery Sagittarius in late December, while Saturn moved from airy Libra to watery Scorpio at the end of November. The full range of phase relationships of Jupiter and Saturn is seen among the “strong” seasons.

In the “moderate” seasons, the fire and air elements are also rather strongly represented. In 2009-10, Jupiter shifted from airy Aquarius to watery Pisces in mid-January, Saturn from earthy Virgo to airy Libra at the end of October. In 2002-03, Jupiter remained in fiery Leo, Saturn in airy Gemini. In 1991-92, Jupiter remained in earthy Virgo, Saturn in airy Aquarius. In 1994-95, Jupiter moved from watery Scorpio to fiery Sagittarius in early December, while Saturn remained in watery Pisces. In 1963-64, Jupiter remained in fiery Aries, Saturn in airy Aquarius. The Jupiter-Saturn phase during “moderate” seasons is most often during the waning half of the cycle.

Through the “weak” seasons, the fire / air factor is notably weaker. In 1952-53. Jupiter remained in earthy Taurus, Saturn in airy Libra. In 1958-59, Jupiter moved from watery Scorpio to fiery Sagittarius in early February, Saturn from fiery Sagittarius to earthy Capricorn in early January. In 1976-77, Jupiter shifted in retrograde phase early in the period (mid-October) from airy Gemini to earthy Taurus, while Saturn remained in fiery Leo. The next winter, Jupiter shifted, again retrograde, from watery Cancer to airy Gemini in late December, while Saturn moved from fiery Leo to earthy Virgo in mid-November and back into Leo in early January. In the 2004-05 period, Jupiter remained in airy Libra, Saturn in watery Cancer. In 2006-07, Jupiter moved from watery Scorpio to fiery Sagittarius in late November, while Saturn remained in fiery Leo. Again, the Jupiter-Saturn phase during “weak” seasons” tends toward the waning half of the cycle.

If you are familiar with current and imminent planetary sign / element placements, you probably have an idea by now about my expectations for 2014-15. If not: The winter of the dreaded polar vortex, when Jupiter resided in watery Cancer and Saturn in watery Scorpio, is so  . . . last year.

With Jupiter fully established in fiery Leo through the period, and with Saturn about to leave watery Scorpio for fiery Sagittarius three weeks hence (23 December), cosmic conditions favor a moderate El Nino. That should come as a relief to a lot of North America’s population–not so much to the northeastern USA (little affected by El Nino), or the Gulf Coast (wetter than normal and chilly). Southern California water supplies get some improvement. But the drought will not be broken.


Clearing Sky, Crescent Moon, Venus Retrograde: 2 January 2014  - (c) -

Clearing Sky, Crescent Moon, Venus Retrograde: 2 January 2014
– (c) zoidion –

The same sky, in chart format.

The same sky, in chart format.

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