Tag: Flatirons

Venus orbital plane

By Phil Plait | June 10, 2012 7:03 am

Local (to me) photographer Patrick Cullis was filming the Venus Transit last week from Colorado, and got a surprise:

Pretty cool. That’s part of a longer video he made of the transit that’s nice, too.

While I’m at it, he made a really pretty time lapse of the sky over Boulder, including footage of Venus and Jupiter setting over the Flatiron mountains; it’s well worth a moment of your time to watch. You can see the moons of Jupiter, too!

http://vimeo.com/42052493

The Flatirons are huge slabs of rock hundreds of meters high that used to be seabed, but were pushed nearly vertical when the Rocky Mountains broke through. They make a stunning backdrop to these videos by Patrick, too.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Ephemeral snow and ancient rock

By Phil Plait | February 10, 2011 7:00 am

I love living in Boulder. I have pretty much the same routine every morning: get The Little Astronomer off to school, start my coffee, grab a bowl of cereal (generic brand Cocoa Krispies, which I call Faux-co Krispies), walk across the house to my office, and open the window shade.

When I did this yesterday, here was my view:

Yeahup. I’m braggin’. Click to upliftenate.

Those are Boulder’s iconic Flatirons, named for their shape. Their geologic history is fascinating: They’re made of Precambrian rock — 600 million years or more old! — that was exposed to weathering when the first Rockies pushed up about 300 million years ago. That rock eroded and oxidized, forming red sediment. This was laid down flat and was covered by an inland sea 40 million years later. During the time of the dinosaurs this area became a floodplain, but at the end of the Cretaceous a second uplift began, forming today’s Rocky Mountains. This broke through the sediment, cracking it and lifting huge sheets of it nearly vertically: the Flatirons. North of here are similar but much smaller formations, and they aren’t raised as vertically. They really give a sense of the uplift and the incredibly slow march of time.

With the Sun shining so brightly, that snow in the picture hardly lasted until the afternoon. It was gone in the blink of an eye, the flap of a hummingbird wing, compared to the lifespan of those formations. The Earth is old, so terribly old… but events on a human timescale are still worth appreciating.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Boulder, Flatirons, snow
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