Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, January 3, 2015

MVNews this week:  Page 14



Mountain Views-News Saturday, January 3, 2015 


NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has entered an approach 
phase in which it will continue to close in on 
Ceres, a Texas-sized dwarf planet never before 
visited by a spacecraft. Dawn launched in 2007 
and is scheduled to enter Ceres orbit in March 

 Dawn recently emerged from solar conjunction, 
in which the spacecraft is on the opposite side of the 
Sun, limiting communication with antennas on 
Earth. Now that Dawn can reliably communicate 
with Earth again, mission controllers have 
programmed the maneuvers necessary for the 
next stage of the rendezvous, which they label the 
Ceres approach phase. Dawn is currently 400,000 
miles from Ceres, approaching it at around 450 
miles per hour.

 The spacecraft’s arrival at Ceres will mark the 
first time that a spacecraft has ever orbited two 
solar system targets. Dawn previously explored 
the protoplanet Vesta for 14 months, from 2011 
to 2012, capturing detailed images and data about 
that body.

 “Ceres is almost a complete mystery to us,” 
said Christopher Russell of UCLA, principal 
investigator for the Dawn mission. “Ceres, unlike 
Vesta, has no meteorites linked to it to help reveal 
its secrets. All we can predict with confidence is 
that we will be surprised.”

 The two planetary bodies are thought to be 
different in a few important ways. Ceres may have 
formed later than Vesta, and with a cooler interior. 
Current evidence suggests that Vesta only retained 
a small amount of water because it formed earlier, 
when radioactive material was more abundant, 
which would have produced more heat. Ceres, in 
contrast, has a thick ice mantle and may even have 
an ocean beneath its icy crust.

 Ceres, with an average diameter of 590 miles, 
is also the largest body in the asteroid belt, the 
strip of solar system real estate between Mars 
and Jupiter. By comparison, Vesta has an average 
diameter of 326 miles, and is the second most 
massive body in the belt.

 The spacecraft uses ion propulsion to traverse 
space far more efficiently than if it used chemical 
propulsion. In an ion propulsion engine, an 
electrical charge is applied to xenon gas, and 
charged metal grids accelerate the xenon particles 
out of the thruster. These particles push back 
on the thruster as they exit, creating a reaction 
force that propels the spacecraft. Dawn has now 
completed five years of accumulated thrust time, 
far more than any other spacecraft.

 “Orbiting both Vesta and Ceres would be truly 
impossible with conventional propulsion. Thanks 
to ion propulsion, we’re about to make history as 
the first spaceship ever to orbit two unexplored 
alien worlds,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief 
engineer and mission director, based at NASA’s Jet 
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.


unexplored alien worlds, let’s zoom out to a 
cluster of galaxies 60 million light-years away. 
This beautiful new image from the Hubble Space 
Telescope shows an edge-on view of galaxy IC 
335 in front of a backdrop of distant galaxies. I 
wonder how many worlds there might be in this 
field of view—and what their inhabitants, if any, 
are doing at this moment?

In each galaxy,

A trillion new wonders wait…

Joy to all the worlds!

—Bob Eklund

You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@ 



A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder

By Christopher Nyerges

 Aside from consulting with newspapers, the weather service, and 
such online services as Weather Underground, you should learn to 
make your own weather observations, and learn to interpret what 
you see. If nothing else, this helps to increase your awareness of the 
environment and keeps you alert. 

 Birds perch more and fly lower before a storm because the low-
pressure air makes it harder to fly. 

A barometer – either store-bought or home-made – is a good tool 
for determining if there will be clear days or rain ahead. A rising 
barometer indicates decreasing air pressure and clear weather, while 
a rapidly falling barometer sometimes forecasts rain, snow, or other 
stormy weather. 

 Though you might have a barometer on your wall at home, most people do not carry a barometer 
with them into the wilderness areas. However, many people do carry altimeters (sometimes built into 
their wrist watches), and these are essentially barometers. First, you need to know where you are on 
your map, and your altimeter needs to be accurate. Then, over the course of a day or so, if our altimeter 
shows a higher elevation than is accurate, it means the pressure is falling and this could indicate that a 
storm is coming. If the altimeter shows a lower elevation than what the map indicates, then the pressure 
is rising and you have a general indication of clear or clearing weather. 

 The key here is an accurate altimeter, and your observation of a change in the altimeter while you 
were at the same location. 

 Dew on the grass at night or early morning can be a sign of fair weather, and dry morning grass can 
foretell rain or an overcast day. However, in some areas where it is very dry, you may not get morning 
dew even though the day will be clear. 

 The presence of a red sunrise or sunset is also a good general indicator of the weather to follow. A red 
sunset generally indicates fair weather, and a red sunrise may foretell rain within 48 hours. A simple 
rhyme makes it easy to remember: “Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in morning, sailors take 

 Learning to read the clouds can be another skill for short-term weather forecasting. 

 For example, cumulus clouds are the puffy, flat-based, cauliflower-like clouds which are constantly 
changing. They mean fair weather followed by clear nights. However, if they begin to stack up into 
cumulonimbus clouds, that means rain or snow is on the way. 

 Cumulonimbus clouds result from strong vertical air currents. These are the most familiar 
thunderheads, with winds often molding the tops into an anvil form. Their based may almost touch the 
ground in the mountains, and violent updrafts can carry the tops to 75,000 feet. In their most violent 
form, they can produce tornadoes. Usually a sign of approaching storms, these cumulonimbus clouds 
will drop rain or snow, and sometimes hail. 

 There are many other natural signs which will tell you about upcoming weather systems. Most of 
these signs are fairly logical once you understand the mechanisms at work. One of the best books on 
this subject is Eric Sloane’s illustrated “Weather Book.” Sloane gives the reader a basic understanding 
of the principles which control weather, and his beautiful drawings make the subject easy to grasp. 

 I have also learned a lot from Ellsworth Jaegar’s “Wildwood Wisdom” and from the weather section 
of most Boy Scout manuals. 

 Observing short-term weather signs is a good way to increase your awareness. When planning your 
trips, take advantage of all the modern resources. 

 Once while discussing weather with meteorologist Dr. George Fischbeck, well-known to Southern 
California TV audiences, he told me that he is very suspect of the long-term weather projections of 
a week to 10 days. “Weather is a very dynamic thing,” he told me. “No one can accurately predict the 
weather beyond more than 48 hours.” 

How to determine weather conditions by observing a rope that was hung from a tree limb: 

If the rope is: The weather condition is:




WET Rainy

DRY Sunny

GONE Hurricane

[Nyerges has been teaching outdoor skills since 1974. He is the author of many books, including “Testing 
Your Outdoor Survival Skills,” “How to Survive Anywhere,” “Enter the Forest,” and others. Information 
about his books and classes can be seen at]


The period between November 1 and January 1 happens to be my favorite 
time frame. Oh yes, there is the idea of Christmas and Christmas presents and 
all of that. I certainly enjoy Christmas with my family and friends. 

 As the oldest person in my family, (I will never mention aloud that the Gracious Mistress of the 
Parsonage is a wee bit older than myself), it is my duty to pay for all of these Christmas presents. By the 
time January 1 rolls around, I am just about broke.

 What good is money if you can’t spend it on your favorite people in all of the world? I won’t say that 
my family is the best people in all of the world, although it is true, I just won’t say it aloud.

 What I do like about this period of the year are the delicacies of the season. It is the time of the year to 
splurge on the finer elements of life. By that, I mean food. I don’t think it’s possible to get too much food 
during this time of the year.

 My wife is infamous for looking at me and saying, “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” Being 
married as long as I have I only allow her to say, “Don’t you think...” And I stop her right there, shake 
my head vigorously and say, “No I don’t think. Tis the season not to think.” And I’m not bragging or 
anything, but when it comes to not thinking I have perfected the art.

 I have one rule when it comes to this time of the year. Vegetables are completely off my diet. All year 
long my wife force feeds these wretched vegetables on me as though it was good for my health. The only 
thing good for my health is to eat them so that she doesn’t badger me as much as she can. But vegetables? 
At Christmas time?

 This time of the year is the time for me to exploit the delicious delicacies of the season. I can’t think of 
any dessert at this time of the year that I don’t indulge in and do it right smartly. Whenever I’m invited 
to a party, I always manage to bring some kind of dessert. And I don’t bring the dessert for the host. I 
bring the dessert for me. When you are at a party, it is not polite not to eat the dessert. And I want to be 
as polite as I can along this line.

 It was a couple days before Christmas when I realized something rather strange. Of course, being who 
I am thinking about something strange comes rather normal. But this was something a little different.

 I turned to my wife and said, “Have you noticed something absent this year during the Christmas 

 “Vegetables?” She said somewhat sarcastically.

 “No, something else.”

 Then I explained what I have not seen this holiday season. They must be around, but I have not run 
into any this year.

 What I have missed this year is the good old fashion Fruitcake. What is the Christmas season without 

 There was a time when Fruitcake was everywhere you looked and you couldn’t get away from it. Of 
course, I never tried to get away from Fruitcake. Being the nut that I am, I absolutely love Fruitcake.

 I know many people make fun of this holiday delicacy. I’m not one of them. I don’t make fun of that 
which has some special meaning. Only during the holiday season can you get this wonderful, delightful 

 Just think about it for a minute. On the one hand, you have “fruit,” and on the other hand, you have 
“cake.” What two things could merge in such a harmonious marriage of deliciousness?

 The goodness of the fruit cancels out the badness of the cake.

 Now when I say badness of the cake, I’m only quoting my wife. I have never seen a cake that was bad, 
except the one that I can’t eat. Cake is the one thing that makes a gathering worth gathering.

 Don’t you think it’s a little hypocritical for those people who think a cake is bad, andthen have it on 
certain celebrations? For example. How could you have a wedding without having a wedding cake? I 
could go on from there if you want me to. No matter what the celebration, cake makes it better.

 I fondly remember the first time I brought home Fruitcake for our Christmas festivities. I set it on the 
table and my wife looked at me and said, “What in the world is that?”

 I looked at her and smiled one of those smiles that comes to someone who is happy to be doing 
what he’s doing at the time and said, “This is not from the world, my dear, this is from heaven.” Then I 
explained to her what a fruitcake was. I’m not sure she bought the whole story.

 Life is full of combining things and when combined with other things they take on a new identity. I 
think life is much like a Fruitcake. 

 Perhaps Jesus said it best, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: 
and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

 When we combine our life with Jesus we take on His identity.


 Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He 
lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail jamessnyder2@ or website