Sky Lights #200!

Dear Reader: This is my 200th Sky Lights post, so I thought I’d have some fun with it and take a “sabbatical” from my usual serious writing for one week. I also took the liberty of posting a “pretty picture” without saying too much about the science behind it. The photo above is a great example of our beautiful Arizona sunsets, presented for your pure enjoyment. Cloud shapes are like a Rorschach test … I see a duck, a tropical fish, a hummingbird, and a woman floating on her back. What do you see?

If you want to learn more about why clouds often look like familiar things, see my August 6, 2012 post.

If you want to learn more about what causes these spectacular sunset colors, see my July 1, 2011 post.

New readers subscribe every day, so I thought this would be a good time to “introduce” them to Sky Lights. Much of what any reader should know is already in the sidebar menu. But not all readers delve deeply into documentation, so I thought I’d highlight a few things they might find interesting or useful. Long-time readers probably know most of this already, but might still benefit from the following synopsis.

Sky Lights is a weekly blog about astronomy, meteorology, and Earth science. If you see anything in the sky, day or night, we’ll help you understand what it is. Sky Lights is created by Dan Heim, president of the Desert Foothills Astronomy Club and freelance technical writer. Photos, graphics, and animations are original productions except where noted. Thanks to NASA for providing many of our stunning visuals as public domain content.

Sky Lights started in June 2004 as a weekly column in The Desert Advocate, a local newspaper since fallen victim to our bad economy. That first run came to an end in June 2008. The print publishing business continues to struggle in a world of ever-expanding electronic media.

After a year of searching in vain for a new publisher, Sky Lights was reborn in the online version of The Foothills Focus, another local newspaper. That was in 2010. But it wasn’t reaching the extended audience I sought for my efforts.

In July 2011, Sky Lights transitioned to a weekly blog. All previous content was converted to a format that worked well in the WordPress blog template. I chose the Suffusion Theme created by Sayontan Sinha.

The change from newsprint to HTML opened up a whole new universe (no pun intended) of possibilities. Now I can use color, hyperlinks, and animations. When the topic is astronomy, meteorology, and Earth science, that helps immensely. The future of information is multimedia, and Sky Lights takes advantage of available technology.

Older posts of Sky Lights have been archived for your perusal. Note that, before August 2011, all posts were B&W static images with a limit of 250 words of text. These days, the sky’s the limit.

You might wonder why I take the time to write Sky Lights, given there’s no ads or popups, and it generates zero revenue. The short answer is, I was a science teacher for 30+ years. And even though I’m formally retired, it’s just plain hard to stop teaching about the sciences I love.

All content in Sky Lights is, of course, copyrighted. But if you’re an educator (formal or home-school) I waive those rights for unlimited use in your classroom. I also take questions from readers, answer them promptly via email, and often use them for a Sky Lights blog topic. See your name up in lights. We try to keep Sky Lights fun and educational.

You can read each post as is, or peruse the links for greater depth on the featured topic. Either way, you’ll increase your understanding of some fascinating natural phenomena. So I thank you for your support, and hope you keep coming back for more. Next week’s topic … a time-lapse animation of the evolution of this sunset. Be there.

Atmospheric Display with Moon and Clouds
Evolution of a Sunset