Thursday, June 21, 2007

Space Ships Sighted Over Wolf Park & Greater Lafayette as Spring Goes Out in Style

The phones are still ringing off the hook and the e-mails are coming in. Everybody is really excited about seeing the Space Shuttle and International Space Station in the sky. I ran up to the roof just before the start of the 11 p.m. show and had to be careful to get off the roof in one piece. I am glad Gina was holding the fort down which allowed me to view this incredible sight for the second consecutive night. You should have seen how fast I sprinted down the hall before my first weather. I didn't know I could run that fast in dress shoes. Maybe I should try it in my next race. It was worth the mad dash and I will remember the last Spring night of 2007 as an unforgettable one.

Mark our weatherwatcher in Monticello called in and actually saw two shooting stars after the Space Station and Shuttle passed overhead. Gene and Charlotte in Monon are still in awe of the big event in the sky and Kandy in Chalmers said it was nothing short of spectacular! So without further adieu here are the pictures that are worth a thousand words. A special thank you to Monty Sloan. He really captured the moment.

This was a long exposure. The Space Station was a little brighter than the Shuttle because it is bigger giving it more reflectivity. The second streak was the shuttle that was also quite bright. What made it all just right was the moon, Venus, and Saturn all nearby.

Here is another perspective. These spectacles were moving at 18,000 mph hour but it was almost surreal as it all took place in slow motion and it was almost as if our fellow humans on board could see us waving at them.

They say all good things must come to an end. By 10:56 p.m. Atlantis finally faded out of view. You can barely pick it out in the upper right hand side of this picture. I cannot thank you enough Monty!

Today we all can also be excited about the summer solstice. It is the official beginning of summer which arrives at 2:06 p.m. It is amazing that we will have over 15 hours of daylight making it our longest day of the year of course when talking about daylight hours. In Barrow, Alaska they will have 24 hours of daylight in the land of the Midnight Sun.

The sun's direct rays reach their northernmost point this afternoon. It is all downhill from here. The term solstice is latin for the sun stands still. There will be very little change in our daylight hours for the next couple of weeks. By late July though you will start to notice the days growing shorter which will eventually bring my favorite season of winter!

But let's take one season at a time. Summer is known for its heat and humidity and even though it will be comfortable today a hot ridge of summer weather will start to build our way that will eventually bring middle 90s for highs by early next week. The next couple of days and nights we will be in transition with scattered showers and thunderstorms that could even fire in the middle of the night. This is a classic summer pattern. I am concerned about severe weather with large hail and damaging wind as the main threats. Portions of Minnesota last night had grapefruit size hail. Hopefully we will not see anything like that. You can see all the ingredients coming together below.

We are living on the edge of a huge area of hot weather with highs hitting near 100 in Denver, Colorado. As this hot air meets our cooler atmosphere we will have to watch out. We are in a slight risk for severe weather. We will also add humidity to the mix by late tonight. It doesn't take much to fire up storms this time of year. Stay tuned, stay alert, and stay safe. Get ready for another big show in the sky, nature-style by late tonight.

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