The Akumalian

Akumal's Newsletter for its Extended Global Community
Quintana Roo, Mexico

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March 2006 Issue 36


Akumal is the place to be.  There's so much happening and so many people visiting, it's getting close to being "too much".  Then there's all the stuff up in the sky - you need to get up on the rooftop and gaze at the stars, planets, and space craft.  It's MMMaaaahhhh-vvellll-oussss!



Full Worm Moon occurs on March 14th at 6:35 pm.

As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins.  The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.



The first lunar eclipse of 2006 is a deep penumbral event best visible from Europe and Africa.  First and last penumbral contacts occur at 21:22 UT and 02:14 UT (Mar 15), respectively.  Observers throughout Akumal and most of North America will find the eclipse already in progress as the Moon rises on the evening of March 14.  However, no eclipse will be visible from westernmost North America (Yukon, British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California) since the event ends there before moonrise.  This particular event is unusual since it is a total penumbral eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse GeometryThe whole Moon will lie completely within the penumbral shadow from 23:18 UT to 00:18 UT (Mar 15).  According to Belgian eclipse expert Jean Meeus this is one of only five such events during the 21st century.  Greatest eclipse occurs at 23:48 UT with a penumbral magnitude of 1.0565.  At that instant, the Moon will stand midway in the penumbral shadow.  The Moon's northern limb will lie 1.6 arc-minutes from the shadow's outer edge while the southern limb be 1.6 arc-minutes from the edge of the umbra.

Penumbral eclipses are difficult to observe, especially during the early and late stages.  Nevertheless, a subtle yet distinct shading should be visible across the southern half of the Moon, especially during the two hour period centered on greatest eclipse


Pi DAY, MARCH 14th

What is Pi, I here you ask?  Pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle.

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445, and this can be taken on ad infinitum.

National Pi Day is March 14th  (3.14).

Written in the USA date format, March 14 is an unofficial celebration for Pi Day derived from the common three-digit approximation for the number π: 3.14.  It is usually celebrated at 1:59 PM (in recognition of the six-digit approximation: 3.14159).

The "ultimate" pi day occurred on March 14th, 1592, at 6:53 AM and 59 seconds.  When written in American-style date format, this is 3/14/1592 6:53.59, which corresponds to the first twelve digits of pi: 3.14159265359 (rounded of course).  However, considering this was well before any kind of standardized world time had been established, and the general public had no concept of π, the occurrence likely went unnoticed.

The first famous "pi people" in history were probably the very first people on the planet.  They saw circles everywhere: in other people's eyes, the Moon, the Sun, etc.  In order for these people to make the first step in determining pi, however, they had to understand the concept of magnitude.  For example, the bigger a stone is, the heavier it is.  The smaller the stone, the lighter it is.  From these simple observations, pro-human then had to realize that some things have direct proportional relationships.  He had to look at a circle and think, "The wider a circle is 'across', the longer it is 'around.'"  From this, a very profound statement would be, "No matter how long or wide a circle is, the relationship between them is always the same."

The first cultures given credit for finding a value of pi are the Babylonians and the Egyptians.  In the year 2000 B.C.E., the Babylonians determined that pi is equal to 3 1/8 and the Egyptians arrived at 4(8/9).  Both got these values, probably, by drawing a circle in the sand and measuring the distance around it with a rope.  That point on the rope is then marked and then the distance across it is measured.  To determine pi, the person would have to see that the circumference is about three times the length of the diameter, with a little bit left over.

 Ryan Fredette gets credit for bringing this to the attention of The Akumalian.

 March 14th is also Albert Einstein's birthday!



Albert Einstein photographed by Oren J. Turner in 1947.Einstein was born on March 14, 1879 at Ulm in Baden-Wurttemberg, German Empire, about 100 km east of Stuttgart.  His parents were Hermann Einstein, a featherbed salesman who later ran an electrochemical works, and Pauline, whose maiden name was Koch.  They were married in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt.  The family was Jewish (non-observant); Albert attended a Catholic elementary school and, at the insistence of his mother, was given violin lessons.  Though he initially disliked (and eventually discontinued) the lessons, he would later take great solace in Mozart's violin sonatas.

When Albert was five, his father showed him a pocket compass, and Einstein realized that something in "empty" space acted upon the needle; he would later describe the experience as one of the most revelatory of his life.  Though he built models and mechanical devices for fun and showed great mathematical faculty early on, he was considered a slow learner, possibly due to dyslexia, simple shyness, or the significantly rare and unusual structure of his brain (examined after his death).  He later credited his development of the theory of relativity to this slowness, saying that by pondering space and time later than most children, he was able to apply a more developed intellect.  Some researchers have speculated that Einstein may have exhibited some traits of mild forms of autism, although they concede that a reliable posthumous diagnosis is impossible.

 Another great Pisces.


Why Saint Patrick's Day? I hear you ask.

Saint Patrick's Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck.  Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.

So, why is it celebrated on March 17th?  One theory is that that is the day that St. Patrick died.  Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations.  The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland.  With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th.  Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.

In American cities with a large Irish population, St. Patrick's Day is a very big deal.  Big cities and small towns alike celebrate with parades, "wearing of the green," music and songs, Irish food and drink, and activities for kids such as crafts, coloring and games.  Some communities even go so far as to dye rivers (Chicago) or streams green!

In Akumal, St.Patrick's Day is as much a celebration of Bob 'Tio' Mulgrew as anything else.  The main celebration occurs at the Lol-Ha Beach Bar around Tio's favorite bar stool.  Irish banners hang from the palapa roof and Irish music is played while locals wearin' the green raise their glasses to another fond remembrance of an Irish fixture at the bar.  Will there be green beer this year, or will it just be the green bottles of Dos Equis?

 BTW - Who was Saint Patrick? I hear you ask.

Saint Patrick was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing christianity to Ireland.  Most of what is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish christians.  Saint Patrick described himself as a "most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God."

Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland.  It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been - the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age.


Astronomers at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute point out that at 12:26 p.m. AST on Monday, March 20 the Sun will cross the celestial equator in the sky heading north.  This will be the first moment of Spring.

What is the astronomical significance of this moment?  At this moment the Sun, in its apparent path around the sky, will stand directly over the equator of the Earth.  It is one of two times during the year when this happens, the other being on the first day of Autumn.

These are the two days of the year when the Sun is above the horizon for exactly half the day and is below the horizon an equal amount of time.  Thus, the length of daylight is equal to that of the night (neglecting twilight), and this day is termed the equinox from the Latin for "equal night."  After the equinox in March, called the spring or vernal equinox, the hours of daylight continue to lengthen with the Sun above the horizon for a longer time each day.  This continues until the summer solstice in June (this year at 8:26 am EDT on June 21).  Following the solstice the days get shorter until at the fall or autumnal equinox (next at 12:03 a.m. EDT on September 23) the day and night are once again equal in length.



March 21: Witness first-hand the incredible accuracy of Mayan astronomy as it was integrated into architecture.  You can see the Equinox sunrise in alignment with the Temple of the Seven Dolls at Dzibilchaltun, not too far outside of Merida.  This ancient Maya city dates back to 300 B.C. and may have been one of the mother cities of the Maya.

At Chichen Itza, witness the magical bi-yearly event that attracts people from all over the globe.  On the late afternoon of the Equinox, the Feathered Serpent descends in a glory of shadow and light down the great pyramid, signaling the most auspicious time to plant the essential and most revered food staple of the Maya, corn.  This event is the most dramatic display of Mayan astronomical knowledge encoded into architecture of any Mayan site yet discovered.



Since the Sun stands directly above the Earth's equator on the equinoxes, folklore holds that one is able to stand an egg on its end on this date.  This old wives' tale is true; one can stand an egg on its end on the dates of the equinoxes!  However, the tale is only a half truth because, in fact, one can stand most eggs on their ends any day of the year, not just on the equinoxes.  Try it!  It really depends on the egg, not the day of the year.  Some eggs can be balanced on their ends easier than others depending on the position of the yolk, and thus the center of gravity, within the egg itself.


[miniature cover art with eclipse paths]On Wednesday, March 29, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor which traverses half the Earth.  The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in Brazil and extends across the Atlantic, northern Africa, and central Asia where it ends at sunset in western Mongolia.  A partial eclipse will be seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes the northern two thirds of Africa, Europe, and central Asia.

Nothing in Akumal though.


Did you ever have a dream to leave your everyday life and escape to "Paradise" and build a new one full of adventure?  Moe describes living the dream she and Lou shared to buy property on the Caribbean coast, build a B & B and integrate into a different culture and environment south of the border in Mexico with the elusive butterfly as their inspiration.  The book, full of shared secrets, chronicles this journey along the Mariposa Trail in a country where doing business, speaking the language, and discovering the tropics involved a new way of living.

It's 374 pages in Trade Paper binding for $17.99 at  Order your copy there or at ,or email at



Sue Williamson (Greg's Mom for ever) writes this latest report on Greg Brown.

"It's with sadness and heavy heart I bring you this news.  We lost Greg on Thursday morning, 2/23/06.  I was told he had a heart attack.  He was still in the Hospital in Georgia.  I was not there.  Did get to talk in his ear the day before and told him I loved him.  The next day, a meeting in Tallahassee was to be held to evaluate his case and push it to get the funds, so I could move him to Florida, all just came way too late to help him. 

I'm sorry I haven't contacted you sooner.  So much happening and traveling to Georgia etc.  Now I'm trying to get Georgia to help pay for his cremation.  All up in the air.  I'm still in shock and disbelief.  He was doing so well, and after waiting for months for help it was about to happen, but, only after I wrote to Governor Bush.

I want to take his ashes back to Mexico to have a Memorial at his cave he discovered.  The date has not been set pending on getting the ashes etc.  I have been in touch with friends in Mexico.  They held a Memorial on Saturday, February 25th, at sunset; they felt they needed that now."

Danielle 'Dani' Brown writes,

'On Saturday, the 25th of February, a ceremony took place by the cannons on Akumal Bay.  It was a glorious sunset, one Greg would have loved to shoot.  We gathered to remember and celebrate the life of Gregory Brown, a true friend and important member of the Akumal community.  During this time, we honored the life Greg lived, the joys he brought to our lives, as well as the reminder he left for us to live life to its fullest, for in the end, it passes like the blink of an eye. 

Also, Greg's Mom, Sue Williamson, is trying to get down here in the middle of March (around St. Patrick's Day) to release Greg's ashes in the cave he found and explored.  He will be able to reach all of those nooks and crevices his human body was unable to see.

In order to do such, we are attempting to assist Sue.  She has the bills of his cremation as well as the travel to contend with, not to mention all past medical bills she has to sort through.  Sue also wishes for a small plaque to be made in Greg's honor and placed in or near the entrance of the cave (all details are in process of finalization).

Scott and I are collecting money and have sent the first round up with Lydia and Mike Pontius on February 28th.  Anything given after this, we will get up there a few days/week after.  Any who are in the States and would like to mail a donation directly to Sue, here is her address:

Sue Williamson (Greg's Mom)
3412 Idlegrove Ct.
Orlando, Fla. 32822

The cremation is between $700 and $1,000 USD, so let's look at that as our first goal and anything beyond that is extra to make Sue's trip here a possibility.  We have a good collection started and will be glad to pass by to collect from anyone else who wants to help see Greg's ashes find his final resting place."


During DST, clocks are turned forward an hour, effectively moving an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.

In the European Union, Summer Time begins and ends at 1:00 a.m. Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time).  It begins the last Sunday in March, the 26th, and ends the last Sunday in October, the 29th.  In the EU, all time zones change at the same moment. 

Daylight Saving Time for Akumal and most of the United States begins at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April, and that is April 2nd.  Time reverts to standard time at 2:00 a.m. on October 29th.  In the U.S., each time zone switches at a different time.


On August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  This Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.  Beginning in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday of March and end the first Sunday of November.  The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress.  Congress retains the right to revert the Daylight Saving Time back to the 2005 time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete.

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time.

Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle).  It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight.  It is a saving daylight kind of time.  Similar examples would be dog walking time or book reading time.  Since saving is a verb describing a single type of activity, the form is singular.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an 's') flows more mellifluously off the tongue.  Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved.  Daylight Shifting Time would be better, but it is not as politically desirable.

For the U.S. and its territories, Daylight Saving Time is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Arizona, and most of the Eastern Time Zone portion of Indiana.  The Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, even in Arizona, due to its large size and location in three states.



            The $20.33 million beach recovery project was kicked off on January 16, 2006, and is expected to be completed by April 30, 2006.  At the helm is Belgian firm Jan De Nul, a global leader in dredging, stone placement, filling and salvaging services.  The firm was hired upon completion of an extensive study undertaken by the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) to assess the level of erosion of the city’s beaches.

In addition, as of February 3, American Airlines has resumed all flights to Cancun.  Construction has also begun on the second runway and a third terminal at the Cancun airport.

Among other future enhancements planned for Cancun’s once immediate post-hurricane needs are taken care of are:
new gardens and sidewalks for the hotel zone’s main thoroughfare, Kukulkan Boulevard
a new park designed to conserve 2.5 million acres of land that will house a zoo and a botanical garden, among other attractions,
a bridge designed to alleviate traffic along Kukulkan. 



Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR) is Mexico’s leading privatized airport operator.  It has a concession from the Federal Government to administer and operate nine airports in the southeast region of Mexico, including Cancun, Latin America’s busiest international airport.  Currently, ASUR serves a total of approximately 14 million passengers per year, whose comfort and safety are their primary concerns.

Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste has began the construction of Terminal 3 at Cancun International Airport.  This will be Mexico's most modern, efficient and technologically advanced airport terminal.  At the same time, the company began the necessary studies to prepare for construction of the second runway at the airport, which will double the current capacity for takeoffs and landings.  The investment needed in these two projects is expected to exceed 150 million dollars.

Terminal 3 will offer an excellent level of service quality for airlines and passengers, whether tourists or business travelers.  Every detail of the building’s design has been carefully analyzed to ensure user comfort, with wide open public areas and a wide range of facilities and services.  The building will be modern, dynamic and functional, with a style of architecture that reflects the growing local economy, and will give visitors the sense of being in a very special place from the moment they arrive in the great destination that is Cancun, the gateway to the Mexican Caribbean.

Visitors will have the chance to enjoy peaceful surroundings with an innovative commercial concept, making the airport environment a pleasure to be in at all times.  The new building will also boast state-of-the-art passenger information and protection systems that guarantee the highest levels of security for all our users.

It is planned to invest approximately 100 million dollars in the new terminal building in developing:
An advanced security system that screens 100% of the baggage transported in every airplane, and which complies with the new international aeronautical security regulations
A total area of more than 40,000 m2
84 check-in counters
11 boarding gates with boarding bridges, and another 4 for remote stands

 The new runway, on the other hand, will be 2,400 meters long and 45 meters wide, and will cost approximately 50 million dollars to build. The distance of 1,500 meters between the two runways will allow them to be used simultaneously for takeoffs and landings.  ASUR has received the required land from the Federal Government to build the second runway in Cancun Airport, and has begun the necessary formalities and submitted the appropriate applications to receive local and federal authorization for the project.

This substantial investment demonstrates that ASUR is working continually to provide a world-class airport service in the great destination of the Mexican Caribbean.  These projects show that despite the losses in the region caused by Hurricane Wilma, ASUR is determined to make its growth plans a reality, in the hope of protecting the jobs that depend directly and indirectly on the airport and contributing to the reactivation of the local economy, to ensure the prompt recovery of the destination.



In the biggest joint Mexico-U.S. scientific venture ever, builders are finishing a monster telescope - Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) - on top of a volcano that will let astronomers look back 13 billion years and uncover secrets about the creation of the universe.  The gleaming white structure, which looks like a gigantic satellite dish, springs out of volcanic rocks on the freezing-cold summit of the 15,000 foot high Sierra Negra.  Located in the central state of Puebla, Sierra Negra is one of six Mexican volcanoes that are higher than any peaks in the continental United States.  Working above cloud level, the telescope will pick up millimeter-long radio waves that have been traveling through space for nearly 13 billion years.  Astronomers will use the information to plot more detailed maps than ever of stars and galaxies as they existed shortly after the Big Bang.

President Vicente Fox and Mexico's scientific community have championed the telescope, the largest of its kind in the world, saying it shows how a developing country can play a major role in cutting-edge technology.  Yet the fact that most of the U.S. funding comes from the Defense Department has worried some Mexicans who are leery of any military connections with their powerful northern neighbor.  U.S. and Mexican scientists say the Pentagon often funds scientific projects so it can use the technology, but the actual telescope will have no direct military use.

So far, the United States has invested $38 million in the project, $31 million of which came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the Pentagon's central research and development organization.  The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee first allocated the agency's funds for the telescope in 1995 when the project was in its infancy. In a report that year, the committee wrote that the "design could greatly improve the capability" to find and recognize targets in space. 

Peter Schloerb, the U.S. project scientist for the telescope, said, "Since the telescope is essentially a giant antenna with sensors to pick up radio waves, the military could use knowledge learned in constructing the instrument to build antennas for its own uses".

But it has been a real challenge for the Mexican and U.S. builders who are constructing the monster telescope at 15,000 feet.  Because of the altitude, all workers are regularly tested to see if they have enough oxygen in their blood and are rushed down the mountain if their level is found to be dropping too fast.  The team had to haul a whopping 13,000 tons of concrete up the dirt road that winds around the extinct volcano.  Hundreds of local villagers were hired to bring up the materials in their compact cars, an effort to employ local residents in one of the poorest areas of the country. 

"At the beginning, vehicles could not reach the summit, and villagers used mules to bring up the concrete", said Mendez, the construction director.  Mendez continued, "Mules are fantastic at navigating mountains.  They are the best road engineers in the world."

With a 165-foot antenna and a total cost of nearly $120 million, the project dwarfs any scientific endeavor that Mexico has been involved in before.  The telescope will be ready for test use in May and will be fully operational by the end of next year.



The Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), designed by MAN Technologie, is a 50-m diameter single-dish telescope optimized for astronomical observations at millimeter wavelengths (0.85 mm < λ < 4 mm).  The LMT Project is a bi-national collaboration between Mexico and the U.S.A.  The institutions leading this effort are the Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica (INAOE) and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMass) respectively.

 A principal scientific goal of the LMT is to understand the physical process of structure formation and its evolutionary history throughout the Universe.  More specifically the LMT has the capability to investigate subjects as diverse as the constitution of comets and planetary atmospheres, the formation of extra-solar planets and the birth and evolution of stars, the hierarchical growth of galaxies and clusters and their large-scale distribution, as well as the cosmic microwave background and its anisotropies.

The selected telescope site of Volcan Sierra Negra (lat. ~ +19 ), situated ~ 100 km east of INAOE, in the Mexican state of Puebla, is at an altitude of 4,600 m (15,000 ft.) and provides excellent millimeter wavelength transmission throughout the year.

The Sierra Negra volcano is 15,000-feet above sea level.The LMT is an open-air telescope which has been designed to provide a pointing accuracy better than 1 arcsec under median wind-loading conditions (v < 5 m/s).  Following the characterization and correction of the telescope surface under the typical deforming effects of wind, gravity and temperature gradients, an r.m.s. accuracy of 70 micron is expected.

Consequently, the LMT will be the largest and most sensitive single-aperture telescope operating at wavelengths of  ~0.85mm  to 4 mm when scientific operation begins following first-light in 2008.

The combination of the large collecting-area and available field-of-view (up to 8 arcminutes in diameter) will provide the LMT with extremely fast mapping-speeds, an advantage that will be exploited by the suite of first-light instruments that include a variety of continuum array cameras, heterodyne arrays and wide-band receivers, and a large flexible auto-correlator spectrometer.  An on-going program of instrument development and collaborative access to the telescope for guest instruments will ensure that the LMT remains a leading millimeter-wavelength facility.



The supernova appears as a blue dot to the left of the large star, middle right. The advent of the exploding star was heralded by a burst of gamma-ray radiation, detected February 18 by NASA's Swift satellite.  Three days later, scientists matched the burst to the birth of a supernova.  The supernova appears as a blue dot to the left of the large star, middle right.  

The gamma ray burst was the second closest to Earth ever detected, scientists say.  The supernova is 440 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Aries.

"Certainly this is one of the most exciting ones, a very unique opportunity," says Swift scientist Frank Marshall of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Hopefully, we are going to learn a lot about supernovas."

Supernova explosions are a two-step process:

  1. First, a massive star exhausts its nuclear fuel and the burned out remains implode. Sometimes it collapses to form a black hole, a gravity pit from which not even light escapes.
  2. At almost the same time, the star’s outer layers explode away, creating a bright supernova.

 The cosmic explosion will reach its peak brightness next week.  Amateur astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere should then be able to see it using high-power telescopes.  Professional astronomers around the world with the most powerful telescopes are collaborating on continuously viewing the explosion, some going without sleep.

The blast lasted for about 33 minutes.  Earlier supernovas have lasted for about 10 seconds, but this one also seems comparatively weak, in terms of the intensity of its gamma ray bursts.  So far, the blast seems to herald a "Type 1C" supernova.  That occurs when a star has consumed all its nuclear fuel, leaving behind only an iron core, which then implodes.

Gamma rays smoothly ramped up in the half-hour blast, a departure from the usual pattern of short, sharp peaks. That may indicate that the axis of the supernova, which typically produces jets of exploding material, was pointed away from Earth.  For a gamma ray burst, this is close, but it is still very far away.  You'll need a pretty good telescope.  You won't be able to go up on your roof and see it with binoculars.



      Have you, I wonder, ever had the experience of being outdoors early on a March evening and marveling at just how enormous the full moon looks as it rises above the eastern horizon?  Certainly it looks a lot smaller when it is high in the sky!

      There are a variety of ways to make the necessary measurements, of which the most precise would be to take a photograph of the moon just as it rises and then, later, to use exactly the same combination of camera and lenses to take a photo when the moon is high in the sky.  You can then intercompare the sizes of the images captured on the film.

      Alternatively, you can make a crude estimate of the apparent size of the moon in a very simple way.  Before trying the measurement, ask yourself whether you think you could hide the moon behind your thumb if you held it (your thumb, that is) out in front of you at arm's length, in a classical `thumbs up' position.  You might be very surprised to learn that you can: try it and see!  Even if the moon were twice as big across as it is now, you could still cover it completely with your thumb in this way.  Now, of course, you can use this permanently attached part of your anatomy to gauge whether or not the apparent size of the moon changes during the night (or from night to night) as it changes position.

      These two experiments will give the same answer.  The moon is no bigger on the horizon than it is when high in the sky.  The effect we see is entirely illusory!  The origin of this very strong psychological impression is not perfectly understood, by the way.  It may originate in the fact that when the moon is low on the horizon we can subjectively compare it to things like trees and houses in the foreground, whereas when it is high in the sky, surrounded on all sides by a very large black void, it is perceived as a rather small source of light.  Whatever the cause, it is a compelling illusion.

      So, in short, the moon illusion is truly just an illusion.  The moon is always the same apparent size (if accurately measured), whether it is on the horizon or overhead.



            Don't know the reason - Oscar Party, Birthdays, celestial happenings, or whatever - but it seems like we have a lot of 'comings and goings' to report, and this is March. 

  • Greg & Jana Franta were back for a brief stay, as Greg was involved with a workshop at CEA, with presentations about solutions for sustainable construction on the Riviera Maya.
  • Lydia & Mike Pontius were back for the CEA festivities.
  • Janet Bouton has been coming and going and coming and going and…..Where’s Marshall?
  • Kendal & Jake Inman were in town, and Jake could be seen shooting hoops on the street.
  • Gene & Mary Langan were back for the Vecinos meeting.
  • Gary & Oveta Vardell were around for a short spell.
  • There was a definite El Moreland sighting at Lol Ha.
  • Nancy & Creighton Walker were around town once again.
  • Terry & Lisa Turner graced the Akumal scene once again.
  • Steve & Judy Holtz are in Aventuras Akumal for an extended stay, through March.
  • Nick Naomi is once again in Aventuras Akumal.
  • Wendell & Lynda Day have once again returned to Aventuras.
  • Laura and Ryan Bush Wolfe returned for the Oscar party at Lol Ha
  • Marcy Essy returned to co-emcee the Oscar red carpet interviews with Laura.
  • Shelley Cope's mom & friend came for a visit.
  • Alice Blatner’s mom, Eleanor, visited Alice & Bud at Casa Zama.
  • Adrian was down for Greg's memorial service.
  • Bay & Chris Hass flew in for the Oscars.
  • Gayle Hardy and Pat Thompson came to Akumal to be married on Tuesday, March 14th , after an eleven year engagement / relationship.
  • Alice & Bill were back, with Gayle & Richard.
  • Tony & Judy James are back; Tony wants a rematch with the Lol-Ha palapa.
  • Diana & husband are back on Half Moon Bay.
  • George & Terry Arras are here visiting Bay & Chris Haas.
  • John & Susan from Ohio are visiting Gabriella Herbert.
  • Gary Clemens, unexpectedly flew into Akumal for a one-nighter.
  • Ryan Fredette made his annual pilgrimage to Casa Colibri.
  • On Friday evening, Jacques Pepin was at the Lol Ha Beach Bar with his family, including daughter, Claudine.   Jenn reports they also dined at Turtle Bay Cafe.  See for more information. 

 Briefly, Pepin shared the spotlight with Julia Child in an earlier PBS-TV series that still is shown occasionally on public television stations.  This twenty-two show series, entitled "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home," was the winner of The James Beard Foundation’s Award for Best National Cooking Show—2001, and the duo received a 2001 Daytime Emmy Award from The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  

Jacques Pepin's memoir, The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, was published in paperback in 2004 after the hardcover edition of the book, published in 2003 became a national bestseller. 


It's not a Zip Code, but it is the newest thing in the Akumal area.  It's at Hidden Worlds, just south of Xel-Ha, and while relatively short (600 feet) and zippy (26 seconds), the Zip Line is an adventure worth exploring.

It was soooo exciting that Ryan Fredette did it twice, while Bobbo did it only once.

The Zip Line is just a short distance inside the Hidden World park, but access to the tower is achieved by a ride in one of their "trucks."

The cost for the first zip is $100 pesos.

 There is another Zip Line at Selvatura, Mexico's first Extreme adventure park, which is strategically located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, just outside Puerto Morales.  The entrance is across MX307 from the Botanical garden.  This is part of the World famous Selvatura Parks, originated in Costa Rica and indisputable leaders in ecological and adventure parks, .  The park has over 247 acres of mid /high jungle, and offers some of the activities that have dazzled the world.

The main activity consists in a zip line circuit, called canopy tour, and the tour consists of flying through the trees, seeing a side of the jungle you never believed existed.  The total distance is 2 miles, divided in 12 zip lines (24 platforms), thus becoming the longest zip line circuit in NorthAmerica.

Entrance at Selatura is $42 USD and includes Canopy Tour, Bicycle Adventure, Cenote Swim, Light Lunch and Soft Drinks, Lockers and Services, and Taxes and Insurance.


There's yet another Zip Line nearby, and it is operated by Alltournative - The Adventure Travel Company.  An incredible combination of Maya culture, breathtaking natural treasures, and unforgettable adventure activities! Break away for half a day and travel to Chikin-Ha, an exclusive, protected natural sanctuary that is only a few minutes drive out of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Your journey on this Mayan Zip Line Expedition begins with a bike ride through the farmlands of Don Silvano, where you will enjoy the surrounding jungle scenery and learn about local Maya subsistence farming.  You will arrive at an extraordinary system of cenotes where you will be swimming and snorkeling in their crystalline waters.  Then you will set out on flight over the jungle's foliage and cenotes on a series of the most thrilling zip-lines of Mexico, last zip-line is 160 meters above the forest canopy!.

            Your journey will end in the mystic dry cenote of the legendary Aluxes, where you will witness a traditional Mayan purification ceremony and learn of the religious and cultural importance of the cenotes to the Mayan people.

            This costs $76 USD and includes transportation in air-conditioned van, all day multilingual adventure guide, Mayan guides at locations, entrance fee to Chikin-Ha, zip-line and snorkel gear, bicycles, lunch and drinks.  See



Still looking skyward, the ISS (International Space Station will be flying over Akumal shortly after Happy Hour on Friday, March 17th.  Step outside the Beach Bar and look towards the north-north-west at about 18:50 – that’s 10 minutes to seven.  Here’s where to look, exactly.

If you saw something on March 11th to the 15th, at about that same time, it was the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

 Tonight, Sunday, March 12th, the HST will be visible from Akumal at 7:04pm, if you look towards the south west.  The flight is from the west-north-west heading towards the east-south east.  The track/positioning is similar to the picture for the ISS on the 17th.



            There is a Turtle Impressions Art Show scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, March 15 & 16 respectively, at Turtle Bay Cafe.  On Wednesday's Opening Night, there will be wine and cheese, starting at 6:00pm.




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