Good Morning Philae

It’s been seven long months. The Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has finally woken up. Now that the comet is closer to the sun, the lander is able to get enough sunlight for its solar panels to power up. And it’s in good condition. That is absolutely wonderful news!

So, once they reestablish contact and download all the data from Philae to Rosetta, and send it back to Earth, there will be a lot of work to do. What I’m interested in seeing is what the comet looks like from the surface while it’s active. This is something that’s never been seen before.

This is a very exciting time. In addition to Philae waking up, we have Dawn orbiting Ceres and its mysterious white spots and New Horizons approaching Pluto. We’ll finally see what Pluto looks like in less than a month! I can’t wait. I’ll write more about Pluto as New Horizons gets closer.

What are you most excited about?

Now I Want to Go Birdwatching

You know the story about the weasel that was riding on the woodpecker from a few months ago? Well, there’s a new one. This time, in Cornwall, Ontario, a man caught an incredible series of photos of a woodpecker fighting with a squirrel.

What’s funny is that this has me thinking about an old field guide to western North American birds that I have back in Canada. I used to look at it all the time, reading it, studying the birds that live in Alberta. I want to see that book now.  I want to go birdwatching like I always imagined I would, but never got around to.

A grey heron I saw last week.

Here in Japan, I look at the birds, and for most of them, I still don’t know their names. I’ve seen mejiro (Japanese white-eye), white egrets, cormorants, crows, black kites, and grey herons, but for most other small birds, I have no clue what to call them. And I still haven’t seen a kingfisher! I’ve been living in Fujisawa for four and a half years, and I haven’t seen this city’s official bird yet.  People I know see them regularly. Maybe I just need to go walking through forests and pay attention to what’s in the trees.

So, anyone ever try birdwatching?