A thoroughly sporadic column from astronomer Mike Brown on space and science, planets and dwarf planets, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the joys and frustrations of search, discovery, and life. With a family in tow. Or towing. Or perhaps in mutual orbit.

Midweek fire update

This morning when I awoke and looked out past my feet, through the large glass door, across the swimming pool, and to the other side of the canyon, the first thing I noticed was the bright yellow color of the sunlight starting to move across the ridge. Yellow! It's the first yellow we've seen in a few days. No smoky gray, no deeply reddened twilight, just a normal yellow sunrise.

I got up and stuck my head out the door. No smoky smell. No ash. There was actually a coolness in the air.

Since Saturday, when the fire started, flames had approached within about 2 miles of our house, mandatory evacuations had crept to within 1 mile, and ash fell out of the sky like a gentle rain. But this morning it looks to be all over.

I'm going to keep my fire-watch ritual a little longer. Every other hour or so I walk over to the nine story building on the Caltech campus, go to the top, and examine the mountains for smoke. At my last check there was nothing at all, just a typical spring time green across the ridges. My eye traced over the deep cut that comes out to Eaton Canyon, went to the right to see the outline of the old massive 100,000 year old landslide, and found a tiny canyon that, on these scales, is almost not noticeable. At the top of the canyon, looking out over the ridge, is my little patch of the earth, still intact for now.

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