This week at the station
This week at Casey: 14 June 2013
Days are getting shorter
As winter is here and the shortest day of the year is rapidly approaching, we are losing about seven minutes of day light per day. The walk to work in the morning presents some new challenges as overnight winds can shift snow creating new blizzard trails that weren't there the day before. To add to that, the light level at this time of the day, which is around eight in the morning, changes as much as the weather. Some days we have bright moonlight to total cloud cover and extreme darkness, or cloud that is covering all the sky except some horizon areas allowing some reflective light. This can make surface definition difficult. This does create some entertainment as you watch some slide off the snow mounds and fall over.
On Monday the 10th sunrise was at 11:09am and sunset was 02:04pm. With the right weather conditions and cloud cover, we get some incredibly spectacular scenes. The sky can 'colour-up' for a couple of hours before and after the sun rises and sets and can colour close to 360 degrees. To capture these in a photo can be a challenge as your camera must be with you at the right time or you need to be in a good spot as the sun rises and falls: it doesn't wait for you and the sky continues to change.
This is because the sky is blue
An inquisitive person who lived over a hundred years ago looked up in the sky and asked himself ‘Why is the sky blue?’ His name was John William Strutt, though better known as Lord Rayleigh. This Englishman from Essex endeavoured to answer this mundane question, amongst other worldly questions. As a result of his curiosity he received a Nobel Prize for Physics, including a long list of distinguished honours and awards throughout his career.
Here at Casey, we don’t look up at the sky and ask ourselves ‘Why is the sky blue?’, rather address how the sky is incredible and breathtaking. Not only is the sky blue, but a perfect meld of gold, red, violet and pink: a rainbow-like hue spreading across the celestial dome. Lord Rayleigh’s discovery of diffuse sky radiation not only explains why the sky is blue, but also why we have such colourful sunsets and sunrises. Now immortalised in his discovery, Rayleigh scattering of light in the atmosphere is exhibited and enjoyed by everyone here at Casey. At times, it’s a daily experience.
Who knew a simple ratio of x=2πR/λ could be so colourful and vibrant? I will share my experience of Rayleigh and Mie scattering of light in the form of photographs, but unfortunately it doesn't fully capture the magnitude and the scale of this grandiose sight.
TED at Casey
With midwinter just around the corner, our creativity is being stretched to its absolute limits. We have completed inter-station darts, started a Casey station darts competition and are currently trying to organize a Monopoly night. With a bit of help from some of the other guys I decided to put on a mini-TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Conference.
I played some of my favourite speeches from five experts in fields including happiness, mobile technology, education and decision making. I found these talks enlightening and entertaining and so offered others the opportunity to enjoy them as well. There were biscuits and cheese as well as some sausages and dipping sauces. Drinks were on offer, and overall participation was near 100%. Feedback was good so hopefully this will be the first of many of these in the coming dark and cold winter months. After an hour and a half, the speeches were finished and everyone settled in for the night.
Hopefully everyone took a little bit away with them. I know I did. I had a great time and really look forward to the next event.