Solar and Lunar Eclipses

  

Solar and Lunar Eclipses

An eclipse usually refers to an astronomical event when either the moon or the sun is partially or totally obscured by another object. Normally, when people use the term, they refer to a solar eclipse, when the sun is blocked by the moon as it passes between the two entities, casting a shadow over the earth, but more frequently we witness lunar eclipses, when the moon passes through the earth's shadow in it's fullest state, and can usually be observed from a greater area than a solar eclipse, in fact usually an entire hemisphere.

Eclipses are visually striking events, and observes and photographers worldwide take the time to watch and to truly capture the aesthetics. When it comes to lunar eclipses, the best viewing locations are the ones without any light pollution, so grab your camera and a tripod and drive out into the wilderness. National parks such as Yosemite, Joshua Trees and The Grand Canyon are fantastic locations to distance yourself from the city lights and to observe the night sky. While you will still be able to witness the eclipse from downtown LA, the view won't be nearly as clear.
When it comes to a solar eclipse, these can be observed from pretty much anywhere. Again, if there is a lot of a pollution, light or physical, this can soften the dramatic view, but as long as you have a clear view of the sky, you shouldn't have any problems. One thing to remember, only when observing the solar eclipse, is that you shouldn't look directly into the sun for the safety of your vision. There are special glasses you can purchase from many different outlets towards the date of a solar eclipse. Regular sunglasses can still be dangerous to use, and looking at the sun through a camera lens is also very dangerous. Also, make sure you remove your glasses while looking away from the sun. It is safe to remove them during a total solar eclipse during the moment that the sun is completely blocked out, and everything suddenly goes dark, but you should replace them over your eyes as soon as the light begins to reappear.
Obviously, visibility of the events depends very largely on the weather, more so than the pollution status of the observation area. Keep an eye on the forecasts of a view good areas for viewing the eclipse in your proximity to make sure you have the best chance at viewing the astronomical phenomenons.
On the 21st August, 2017, there was a total solar eclipse visible in the US, which was quite a rare event. There was also one on January 2019, but only slightly visible from the southernmost states of America as that will occured mostly over South America and the South Pacific. The next total solar eclipse to be visible from all over North America won't occur until 2024.
As mentioned before, lunar eclipses are much more common. This 2019, skywatchers in a few locations on Earth will have three opportunities to see a solar eclipse, a celestial event in which the moon briefly appears to take a chunk out of the sun. A total solar eclipse will occur on July 2, 2019. Nearly two years after the Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017, the world will once again have a chance to experience totality. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. This total solar eclipse will be visible from small parts of Chile and Argentina just before sunset. Some regions in the Pacific and in South America, including locations in Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay will see a partial solar eclipse.

 

Griffith Park Observatory

  

usaevent Griffith Park Observatory

Located on an incline above Los Angeles City, and just a stone's throw from the world famous Hollywood Sign that stands tall above the city, is the Griffith Park Observatory. This was built using the funds in Colonel Griffith J. Griffith's will on his command, after stating that if “all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world”. It was opened in 1935 and has been fulfilling his visions ever since, with more people looking through the Zeiss telescope than any other telescope in the world.

Every evening, there are free public telescopes set up on the lawn when the observatory is open. This allows visitors to look to the sky, search for constellations, zoom in on distant planets and to explore the sky at their own pace. For those who want a little bit of help understanding what they are looking at and to learn a little more about the equipment, the history, and the cosmic world, demonstrators are on hand from the observatory until about 9.45pm every evening.
One Saturday every month, the staff at the observatory host a free event for the public called a Star Party. This start at 2.00pm and run through to 9.45 with the help of volunteers from the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, the Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers and the Planetary Society. These are particularly good for families with children of all ages who are interested in the night sky. Participants are able to quiz the volunteers for information, to try out different telescopes and find out about their different functions, to talk to enthusiastic and knowledgable people and to get involved with the world beyond our atmosphere. For a list of dates, check out the Griffith Observatory website which lays out the plan for the entire year (http://www.griffithobservatory.org/programs/publictelescopes.html).
As well as the Star Parties, the observatory also holds a free evening on the first Friday of every month in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon called “All Space Considered”. This is a discussion about recent happenings and relevant topics in the world of astronomy, headed by the observatory's curatorial staff. Seating for these events is distributed on a first come-first serve basis. Some of the talks are also filmed and streamed live through their website.
All year round, Griffith Park attracts many visitors for hiking and outdoor activities up to and around the iconic Hollywood sign. In good weather it offers arguably the best views over Downtown LA and almost all of the city is visible from various points of the park. It has been featured in many movies and films, and has even been animated in The Bojack Horseman Show, so you can walk in the footsteps of some of your favourite movie stars. There are walks for all abilities, public transportation from various parts of LA, and multiple car parks that facilitate the area.
For those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, either by losing themselves in the nature of the park or by losing themselves in the romance of the night sky, Griffith Park is a perfect place to spend some time.

 

Chinese New Year 2019 in SF

  

Chinese New Year 2019 in SF usa event

The Chinese New Year celebration in San Francisco is one of the largest in the world. The main draw of this celebration, the Grand Parade, will be held on Saturday, February 23. In addition, you will find lots of fun events for the lunar new year in both February and March.

 2019 is the Year of the Pig.
The San Francisco Chinese New Year celebration is the largest outside of Asia. The Chinese New Year celebration in San Francisco first began in the mid-1800s, when many immigrants from China came to the US looking for work.
As the word of the Gold Rush in California spread, many Chinese immigrants decided to stay in San Francisco. This built up a large Chinese community in this city, forming the famous Chinatown district that is still very much alive today.
When they planned their first full scale New Year's celebration here, they incorporated both Chinese and American traditions. They loved the idea of having a large, colorful parade, though that was not done in China at that time.
Today, this celebration and parade is one of the largest in the world. More than three million people watch the parade every year.
There are more than 100 parade entries. These include participants marching down the street with flags, lanterns, and drums.
The parade also includes several floats, the largest and most popular of which is the 28-foot-long Golden Dragon. It takes a team of more than 100 people to operate and move it through the streets of San Francisco. The lucky color red is everywhere at the new year. Chinese New Year is a lunar festival whose date is determined by the moon's phases and changes every year.
This 2019 Chinese New Year Parade is on Saturday, February 23. It starts at 5:15pm at the corner of 2nd and Market Streets. It then weaves its way through Chinatown and ends at Jackson and Kearny Streets. The parade usually ends around 8pm.

 

Atlanta Winter Beer Festival

  

Atlanta Winter Beer Festival

Hosted every winter by Atlanta Beer Festivals, this quickly growing popular event is every beer enthusiast's dream. With over 150 different beers available, and all samples included in the ticket price, you are bound to find a new favourite brew and have a lot of fun in the process of finding it. Connecting like minded beer enthusiasts and brewers from all over the area, the event is strongly supporting the local community and has proven to be a popular and successful event. The 2019 Atlanta Winter Beer Fest will be at Atlantic Station on February 2, 2019

There is a large focus on featuring as many locally brewed beers as possible. The event showcases a lot of local talent from Atlanta and Georgia, from the larger well known commercial breweries to much smaller, refined and experimental craft beer creators, and a whole range of different flavours will test your tasting palette. Atlanta has a wide range of different brewers such as Red Brick and Sweet Water who are well represented at the festival. America has an ever growing craft beer scene, and with new innovations and improvements happening every year, the best way to understand the culture and the beer scene is at events such as this.
As well as beer, the festival showcases a number of ciders, wines, hard sodas, and even gluten free beer for those who cannot indulge in the traditional style of beer. Those who are less enthusiastic about beer are still well accommodated for, although the festival is very focussed on beer instead of wine and cider.
Aside from drinking, there is plenty of food at the festival. Local restaurants set up small stands to cater for hungry patrons, and there are food trucks supporting the event also. There is also live music at the event, with a dedicated stage set up with lots of room for spectators and dancing. Performances range from DJs hitting the decks and stirring up a party, to live bands showcasing their musical talents. This truly is a party that one will not forget.
Tickets are best booked well in advance as the price increases as the event draws closer. Full ticket prices and details can be found at the event website (http://atlantawinterbeerfest.com) as well as more information regarding the event.
Atlanta Beer Festivals are a group of dedicated people who are “Helping Atlanta Celebrate Beer”. As well as the Winter Beer Festival, they host a plethora of different events throughout the year, such as the Summer Beer Fest, the Atlanta Brunch Festival which celebrates a lot of local food and the love of brunch which is forever augmenting in Atlanta, the Atlanta Spring Wine Fest which celebrates local and imported wines, and New Beers Eve which is an all inclusive, all out party with over 40 beers to taste. Details of these events and many more can be found at the Atlanta Beer Festivals Official Website (atlantabeerfestivals.com).
The event is limited to attendees over 21 years of age only. It is worth a reminder to drink responsibly, and to ensure you have safe passage to and from the festival.

 

Joshua Tree Music Festival

  

joshuatreemusicfestival

The Joshua Tree Music Festival is a bi-annual event occurring in Spring and Fall every year in the Mojave Desert. It was formed in 2003 and now, every May and October, allowing artists and musicians to bring together lovers of creativity in a small and intimate festival environment. The quirky national park has inspired many artists and musicians over the year, dotted with unusual fauna and wide open spaces that allow one to think.

The festivals focus on creating a family friendly environment which connects the artists to the festival attendees with passionate performers in a small setting. Performers are not separated from audience which further enhances the intimate setting. The organisers look for up and coming artists over the larger names, and the organisers hope that instead of attendees only watching their favourite artists, that they will discover a new unheard of favourite and will further support up and coming and often struggling musicians who are battling a difficult industry. Many artists who perform are being heard for the first time. The music is spread over two stages, however the musical acts alternate between them so that it is possible to see every artist without the magic ability to be in two places at once.
The stages and audience sections are well protected from the desert sun, and with small audience numbers and venues, it is possible to get up close to the stage and to have excellent visuals of the artists, instead of watching them on a TV screen from the back of a field.
Children under 10 are able to attend the festival for free and there is plenty to occupy the kids with, such as a dedicated “Kid Zone” which is particularly good for those camping with their children. Everybody of all ages is welcome to the festival, and everybody is well accommodated for.
There are lots of events to developing self-awareness, from yoga classes, a “Positive Vibration Station”, Random acts of mindfulness and a plethora of visual arts. The organisers want attended to immerse themselves in hippy culture and caring communities, and to leave the event feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, unlike other festivals which induce week long hangovers and leaver attendees in a recovery mode. Alongside this, there is plenty of art workshops, murals, sculptures, projected visuals and craft markets run by and in support of local communities. Organic food is abundant, and there is a strong focus on sustainability and healthy eating.
It is organised by a group of friends who believe that “music is the soul of life, and that art enriches and saves lives” and attracts around 4000 attendees to every event. Alongside the two annual festivals, there is now the Guitarfish Music Festival every July that runs in association with the organisers of the Joshua Tree Music Festival.
Camping and lodging is all available. More details on up and coming events as well as locations and accomodation opportunities can all be found on the event's official website joshuatreemusicfestival.com.

Ladies of Hip Hop Festival

  

ladiesofhiphop

The Ladies of Hip Hop Festival is a celebration of the female characters dominating the hip hop music scene. The mission of the organisers is to allow women to express, learn, and share their voice by giving them the freedom and space and support to do so. The festival places the women centre stage, challenging the traditional mentality that men own the hop hop scene.

Executive Director Michelle, while working in the industry on a number of music videos, studios and theatre productions, realised there were only small opportunities for women in the industry as they were often in the shadow of the men, so she created a safe and neutral zone which allowed women to express themselves and to create opportunities which don't discriminate against gender. Despite accomplishing so much in her career and being such an important character for women in the hip hop industry, Michelle has had no formal training, forging her own path, and has become a motivational example for women that proves that a strong and independent lady can become successful in the hip hop scene.
Originally a dance training programme in 2004, the group behind the festival have evolved to become a driving force for supporting women in hip hop culture. As well as running three different Ladies of Hip Hop Festivals, LOHHF offers workshops, performance opportunities, international artist exchanges and public seminars and talks. While focussed very much in America, LOHHF have started building strong international connections and even took the festival to Austria in 2011. They debuted over three sold out evenings of shows and panel discussions to critical acclaim and praise.
The New York festival occurs every July, although dates can fluctuate and it is best to check the website first for confirmation. The festival is a combination of music, dancing workshops, dancing performances, panel discussions about gender equality and about expanding the narrow lens which women in the industry are viewed, dance battles between some of the most talented female dancers from all over the world, female DJ sets and showcases.
There is also an event that the festival labels as “Ladies Battle” where female competitors from all over the world travel to New York to compete in a dance-off. There are six different categories - Hip-Hop, Waacking, House, Dancehall, Popping and Breaking, which all come with a $500 cash prize as well as the highly essential bragging rights of being able to proclaim yourself as one of the world's best female hip hop dancers. The music is provided for this event by a lineup of all female DJs playing a variety of different genres such as funk and house, and is judged by elite dancers from around the world. This takes place in The Knockdown Centre on Flushing Avenue.
The festival website (ladiesofhiphopfestival.com) includes information and ticket prices for the event, as well as a dedicated blog which connects fans of the art with some of the artists through specialised and intimate interviews. Here, they also promote tours and performances from friends of the festival and from female artists and up to date news about the company and about the upcoming events.

 

Yosemite National Park

  

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite, in Northern California, is one of the original three national parks that existed in the US. It is an area of immense natural beauty, including massive granite cliffs, luscious sweeping valleys of rich vegetation, sequoia trees and even wild black bears. The dramatic landscape has been formed over millions of years by volcanic activity allowing the granite to inflate and swell, only to be carved away by glaciers flowing through the valley. The iconic Half Dome (as seen on Apple desktops worldwide) is a prime example of this geology, and the amazing nature attracts millions of visitors every year. Since 1984, it has been recognised as a world heritage site.

While most visitors will merely rock up to the view points in this national park, just to take a few photos and admire the view, there are a number of ways you can scratch just below the surface to have a more genuine experience. This is very much subject to which time of year you decide to visit and what physical activities you are interested in.
Between mid December and March there are several winter trails available. You can navigate these with your skis and snowboards or snowshoes depending on the snowfall and which routes you decide to take. Normally there isn't enough snow to support skiing and snowboarding, but if you're lucky, you will get to experience the national park in ways that very few get the chance to. Yosemite is actually home to the oldest downhill skiing area in California, and lessons, rentals, lift tickets, tubing an sledding are all available in the national park. You can refer to the national park website (https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wintersports.htm) for more details.
If you visit in summer, there is no need to lament because there are a number of amateur astronomy clubs that observe the night sky from the Glacier Point Amphitheater, endorsed by the National park Service. Where Yosemite is so far away from the nearest city lights, when the clouds give way to what lies beyond, Yosemite offers some very clear, and some very awe inspiring skies. All along Glacier Point, especially on Saturdays, people set up telescopes to watch what is happening light years away from us. Bring along a star chart and spend a few hours inventing your own constellations and wondering what else could lie beyond our atmosphere. Astronomy walks also occur in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows and Wawona.
For those interested in Art and Photography, as Yosemite is such an amazing place that offers endless inspiration to those who try to capture it, there are art classes offered in Spring through to Fall in the Yosemite Art centre which is situated near the village store. There is Museum Gallery which exhibits work during Spring and summer, and which also offers photography walks, workshops and classes throughout the year.
However you choose to experience Yosemite, it is worth a quick visit to the national park website to understand what is available when you go. If nothing else, you will experience an area of unimaginably amazing scenery and a point of essential history to the beginnings of the national park service in the US.

 

Winter in the US

  

skiing

While many people will by tying their skis to the car roof and setting off for the Canadian border, there are plenty of great places to partake in winter sports in the USA.

One of the most popular and famous destinations for winter sports in the US is Aspen. Located in The Rocky Mountains in Colorado, it is a ski resort town at 7908ft elevation. While open for skiing and snowboarding in the winter months, it is also popular for hikers and mountaineers during the summer months, and boasts a plethora of outdoor activities all year. The area is a collective of two townships and four mountains, and can all be accessed using one lift ticket. Easy navigation and slopes of all abilities make this a fantastic winter destination.
For those wanting to get their adrenaline kicks in a unique fashion, it's worth spending some time this winter at Grand Lake in Colorado. This is the perfect location to try out snowmobiling, with over 300 square miles of terrain, 150 of which are specially maintained for those wanting a tame ride, and the other half are left more wild for those more experienced riders. There are trails that suit all abilities, all amongst the picturesque setting of the Colorado Rockies.
For those who love winter hiking and snowshoeing, the Glacier National Park in Montana has a numb er of trails, ranging between 6 and 40 miles long. The national park is filled with dramatic landscapes, glacier carved valleys and peaks, huge and colourful lakes, and if a great place to lose yourself in the rockies.
For those with younger kids, or who have trouble standing up on their skis and snowboards, Keystone in Colorado offers a fantastic tubing hill. This is where the rider sits in an inflatable ring and slides down the slope. Keystone is particularly good because there is a dedicated conveyor belt to carry riders up the hill and the slope is kept under the watchful eye of safety workers.
For those who are willing to travel a little further, the traditional pastime of dog sledding is very popular in Alaska. This was originally a form of transport, but now attracts many visitors every year who want to get their winter vibes in a unique way. Professionals travel to Anchorage every year in March to compete in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Beginners can take sledding tours which are particularly popular around Church national Park and Juneau.
One of the best rated skiing resort to spend your annual winter holiday at is Jackson Hole in Wyoming. With ski slopes for all abilities, an arial tram to admire the mountainous scenery from and a lively ski town with plenty of accomodation and entertainment, the mountain has everything you could possibly need for a perfect ski holiday.
For anybody who would prefer to have a warm winter, you can always spend a holiday in Miami to chase away the cold. You don't have to cross the northern border to experience a fantastic white winter every year.

 

Vans Warped Tour

  

vanswarpedtour

The warped tour is a well established travelling rock festival based in the US including a few stops in Canada, and even the UK and a few other international locations on a few different occasions. It began in 1995 and has been an annual event ever since, making it the largest touring music festival in North America, as well as the longest running touring music festival in North America.

The festival encompasses a number of different genres of music from ska to hip hip, but the main focus is on rock, punk and metal. With so many once dedicated rock music festivals seeing a trend towards more popular genres of music such as pop and electronic, the Vans Warped Tour sticks very strongly to it's roots. The festival often includes performances from repeat artists such as NOFX, Anti-Flag and The Casualties, and other notable acts to grace the stage have been Echosmith, The Used, Yellowcard and The Dropkick Murphys. The warped tour is an important contributor the US music scene and has been attributed for bringing some now household names such as Paramore, Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance to the spotlight. There is a huge inflatable lineup at each festival that states the running order and stage locations of each artist which changes from city to city as no two festivals have exactly the same setup.
As well as traditional performances, there is a battle of the the bands on the tour every year, open for participants in lesser known or even completely unknown bands to enter. In 2005, over 10,000 bands entered. Those who are successful in the battle have the chance to perform the Ernie Ball Stage at the events. Some of the musicians performing on the tour like to give out music lessons to aspiring musicians in the crowds, and there is a dedicated mobile studio bus that helps with educating festival goers.
To coincide with the start of the tour, and to build up a lot of hype for the event, there is an official compilation album release which includes music from the 50 of the artists performing on the tour that year. This is simply called “Warped Tour Tour Compilation” and is distributed annually.
The festival also focusses a lot on charity and activism. There are opportunities to donate blood in exchange for for backstage passes, information and stands about non profit charities who are advocating their cause, and a strong encouragement to recycle. 25 cents from every ticket to the tour sold is donated to the Hollywood Heart charity, and the profits from the festival have also been contributed towards the Hurricane Katrina relief in the past. All festival busses uses bio-fuel in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the festival.
The tour stops at a large number of major cities all over America during the course of the summer, and local details can be found on the festival website (vanswarpedtour.com). The festival organisers allow children to take a parent with them for free, and all ages are welcome to the tour.

 

US Open - Tennis

  

usopentennis

The US Open is the fourth and final instalment in the annual Grand Slam tournaments, beginning on the last Monday in August and lasting or two weeks, which means the middle weekend coincides with the Labor Day holiday.

Unlike the French Open which is played on clay, and Wimbledon which is played on grass, the US Open is played on a hard surface. The material is called Pro DecoTurf which is a multilayered cushioned surface which has slightly less friction and lower bounce qualities when compared to most hard courts. They are distinctively painted blue with white stripes to allow optimum viewing from the back of the stands and also on the television.
The event consists of five main championships spread over 22 courts and 2 weeks. The championships are the men's singles, the women's singles, the men's doubles, the women's doubles and also the mixed doubles. There are also additional tournaments for senior players, junior players, and wheelchair players. The event is hosted by USTA (the United States Tennis Association) at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York City. Players compete for world rankings, a trophy and a cash prize, with the winners of the singles events taking home $3.5 million (figure from 2016) and adding 2000 points to their ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and WTA (Women's Tennis Association) profiles.
As this is a Grand Slam event, you can always expect to see all of the top names in tennis competing, providing they are not recovering from an injury. Every year sees historic tennis records smashed and some tense edge of your seat action. It is a knockout tournament which sees a large number of competitors taking on each other in succession until only two remain to battle out in the final. The US Open is the only Grand Slam event that uses tie breakers in every set of the match, unlike the other events which only employ these in the last set. The event also makes use of the Hawk-Eye computer system to help with line call challenges and umpiring conflicts.
With spectator attendance reaching around the 700,000 mark yearly, this is a massive event on the ATP calendar. For those unable to attend the competition, there is excellent media coverage of all of the matches through ESPN and the Tennis Channel. Those who can attend the event have access to a range of formal and informal dining establishments, workshops and some world class tennis action. There are plenty of easy connections using public transport to get to the venue from all over New York with subway line 7 providing easy and convenient access. This is much easier than trying to fight your way against the traffic and to search for a car parking spot, although this is also possible.
Ticket pre-sales tend to start around June for the following event in August. More information can be found on the US open official website (usopen.org) including playing schedules, ticket prices and news from the tennis community.
  
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