Latest in Fun Science: Oregon Coast from Space, Stellar Mystery, Whales, Odd Formations
(Oregon Coast) – The Oregon coast never ceases to surprise. This past week we've been able to time travel back millions of years, down to the ocean bottom and then up to space because of the region (photo courtesy HICO imaging system/OSU).
Oregon Coast Beach Connection’s sister site, OregonTravelDaily.com, had the pleasure of bumping into a tremendous image – that of the mouth of the Columbia River as seen from space. Thanks to the International Space Station and a new imaging systems called HICO – for Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean – we are seeing lots of new ocean and near-shore environments from orbit. More the story here. But the image of the Columbia River from orbit is seen up top.
There are some seriously confounding rock formations around the Oregon coast, some dazzling shapes that spark the imagination. But it takes a geologist to read them, frankly.
Sometimes, you may have noticed some really mysterious formations that look like steps – or even seats – in those vast, basalt structures that dominate some parts of the coastline. These, it turns out, were a sort of lava flow within a lava flow – in a sense. The story begins millions and millions of years ago. There’s more at Mysterious Rocky Steps Along Oregon Coast Explained by Geology.
Killer whales are a rare sight along this stretch of the world’s coastlines. You’ll see way more of them in Washington than here. But they do show up now and again, such as in April and May, as they seek out baby gray whales to feed on as the grays make their way northward. There was a flurry of sightings early in April: More Killer Whales Spotted on Central Oregon Coast
If you like feeding the seagulls on the beaches, you’re not going to like this story. It turns out it’s a very bad idea to feed them, and yet this is not well known.
For fans of creatures washing up on Oregon shores, this week saw a good dose of that too. A Broadnose Sevengill shark showed up at Gearhart this week, already dead. It’s a rare but fascinating find. And tiny jellyfish called Sea Gooseberry have been seen in great abundance recently. They look like small, gelatinous bubbles lying around the beach. You should be able to see them on most beaches right about now, but this is hard to predict.
Finally, from depths of the ocean to the galaxy and universe in general, there’s a bit of a stellar mystery that came to the attention of Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff recently. Taking night photographs of the coast – especially above Manzanita – is a favorite activity around here. But in doing so, we discovered one particularly bright star that stood out above the rest.
These star trails below show this near the upper right hand corner. We’ve sent out questions to some astronomy experts regarding this, but haven’t heard back. Is it a planet? A star? And if it’s a star, does it stand out this just because of the way certain atmospheric gasses have gathered?
Let the nerdy fun begin. We haven’t heard back yet. When we do, the answer will be posted on our Facebook page first: www.facebook.com/ OregonCoastConnection. You may want to “like” it in advance for the answer.
Also of note: while making this three-minute exposure below an enormous shooting star went streaking across the southern sky from east to west. It was bright and magnificent.
This happens a lot from this viewpoint above Manzanita. We strongly recommend you hang out here on a clear night if you want to witness some amazing stellar phenomena.
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