Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Jupiter–Venus Conjunction

Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest objects in the night sky (excluding of course the Moon), were very close tonight – just a third of a degree apart (for reference, the full Moon is about half a degree in diameter). We will not see a closer Jupiter–Venus conjunction until 2039.


I positioned myself at a spot whence, I calculated, I would see the two planets set over the Shard. But my trigonometric efforts were in vain; clouds obscured the view while the sky was still quite bright and the planets some distance above the horizon (at the upper left in the photo below). Oh well, I'll try again tomorrow.

Whenever I see Venus in the evening sky, I think of these lines from Terrapin Station by the Grateful Dead:
Counting stars by candlelight / All are dim but one is bright / The spiral light of Venus / Rising first and shining best...

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Courgette Flower

Lately I have been remiss about posting because of my exams (which end in four days), but I couldn't let summer solstice pass by without comment. So here is a photo of our courgette flower, opening up to the midsummer sun.


We only planted the seeds in late spring, but the plants are already producing male flowers. Hopefully we will soon have female flowers, with fruits to follow.

Monday, 1 June 2015

The Hungry Leaf

Our Venus flytrap plant has been gorging itself this summer: here we see a single leaf which has trapped and digested no fewer than three insects, and is open again for business.


Speaking of insect-trapping, I recently read about the dementor wasp which, by injecting a cockroach with neurotoxin, "steals its prey's free will." Of course Spinoza might ask, Did the cockroach have free will to begin with?