May 20, 2012

Annular Eclipse as seen from Casa de Carmichael

Tonight, as the sun set over the Rockies, the moon got in the way.  Voila’ an eclipse!  But as the moon is at apogee (the farthest away from the earth in it’s elliptical orbit) it is unable to block the body of the sun in it’s entirety, thus we see an “Annular Eclipse” instead of the more famous “Total Eclipse”.  An Annular Eclipse at it’s peak will form a ring of fire, as the moon forms the hole of a Sun Doughnut.

We here in Colorado were just outside the shadow line of a full Annular Eclipse, that privilege was reserved for our neighbors further to our west in Utah, and New Mexico.  Didn’t mean I didn’t go out and take my best shot at capturing the partial Eclipse.  Here is my result…

eclipse 3 copyright

This was a fun challenge to photograph.  Hope you enjoy…

May 20, 2012 in Current Affairs, Just Plain Cool, Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack


February 20, 2012

President’s Day Photo Safari and the Bird–Dogfight!

I had the day off today… Ginger, did not… So I had to entertain myself.  And since the local fairways still have anywhere between 2-6” of the white still on them, golf was pretty much out of the equation.

So, I picked up the Nikon, a couple of lenses, and out I went. 

It was the tale of two subjects today, Birds and Trains.  Don’t ask… I have no idea how those relate in any way shape or form except to say, they both ended up at the business end on my focus.  This post will be dedicated to the birds part.

I first started my day at the south end of the “Mary Carter Greenway Trail” along the South Platte River.  Much to my dismay there was not too much there that I found captivating.  After strolling along the river’s edge for about an hour will little to show for my efforts except muddy shoes, I headed back toward the car along the bike path.  I spied a small pond (Red Tail Lake I think it was) where a few odd ducks were paddling along.  Not your typical Mallards, so I set up and took a couple of images.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck2

Pretty cool looking little fella if you ask me… any Anatidae Ornitholigists out there want to enlighten us on the species… please do.

And that was all for the Nature Hike…  Next, off to find me some industrial might!  Trains!  But… as this is the Bird post…  allow me to fast forward in my day.

While I was along the Union Pacific’s Engine Maintenance Yards snapping images of trains, I looked up and noticed a bit of a Dog Fight developing… or Bird Fight if you will…

Appears that a Bid of Prey (possibly an Osprey) strayed into a certain Raven’s territory.


Fights on 1

“Jester” begins at the Osprey’s 6 O’clock high… things aren’t looking good for our hero, “Do some of that Pilot Sh!t Mav”!

Fights on 2

Mav sweeps the wings and selects max blower!

Fights on 3

But just as “Jester” shoves the throttles forward, “Mav” pulls the Throttles to Idle, and pops the boards!  (That’s speedbreaks you friggn’ leg!)  Jester overshoots!

Fights on 4

“Mav” sweeps the wings forward, and despite a KO’d Left Aileron takes charge of the fight! Reversal! Commin’ Right!

Fights on 5

Now with Mav on Jester’s Six, Jester starts squawking about the “Hard Deck” or something like that!

Fights on 6

Mav tries desperately not to overshoot his prey, but is finding he has too much grunt on…

Fights on 7

Flaps and Slats!  Try a rolling scissors!

Fights on 8 

Shoot! Too Late!!! Jester pulls in the vertical plane for a High Yo Yo!

Fights on 9

Crap! Damn TF-30s! and their spool time!!!

Fights on 10

When in doubt, maneuver!  Crap forgot about that aileron!

Fights on 11

Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail me now!

Fights on 12

You’re dead kid!  “The defense department regrets to inform you your kids are dead cuz they were stoopid!”…   “Great Balls of Fire!”

Fights on 13

Knock it off!  Let’s go home… Maverick has the lead! 

After this last shot the two birds actually split up the the raven breaking right… What you cannot see in these images (and because he was directly in the sun, was Maverick's wingman getting ready to roll-in for the assist.  Cool stuff in the skies over Denver today.

February 20, 2012 in Just Plain Cool, Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


December 21, 2010

2010 Lunar Winter Solstice Eclipse

Like 100’s of thousands of others in the United States today, I am enjoying my morning brew a bit more after having stayed up a bit late last night.  Not out partying, nope… Photographing… the Lunar Eclipse.

We had a slight layer of high clouds here in Denver, but most of the imagery came out ok.  Here’s my contributions to the avalanche of images we’re going to see on all of the social network sites today.

DSC_0004 DSC_0013

DSC_0017 DSC_0019

DSC_0023 DSC_0028


Eclipsed moon 12-21-2010 c

Eclipsed moon 12-21-2010 a

Eclipsed moon 12-21-2010 b

And there it is.  Sorry, didn’t stay for the departure side.  (Apologies for the grain in some of these, I had the ISO jacked up to 1,000 for a few of the later images… oh for a D3s!)

December 21, 2010 in Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack


December 14, 2010

No Meteors for Me

Last night was supposedly one of the best nights to witness the Geminid Meteor Shower.  I headed out in the chill of the evening to see what I might be able to capture with the camera.  Answer:  Squat! 

I did see a couple of meteors shoot past, but of course my camera was pointed in a different part of the sky.  Plus I was having fits with all of the light pollution in my neighborhood, and with it being a “school night” and all (having a 7:00am conference call wasn’t enticing either) I didn’t want to go out and locate a good dark area into the wee hours.

I took a few long exposures and honestly wasn’t real happy with any of my results save one… this one was a long exposure of a plane (at cruise altitude) plowing west toward a setting crescent moon.  I thought I’d give it a try.  What was captured was… the reflected contrail (left part of the trail) and his strobes as he neared the moon.  The moon is entirely blown out due to the long exposure, but I thought it was kinda cool anyway.

plane and moon

Now, back to work!

December 14, 2010 in Aviation, Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


October 19, 2010

Stealth Chinook Helicopter

Ok, so I was out this evening trying (and failing) once again to snare a good image of Jupiter.  (And a few more of the moon).  When the telltale Whaumpa Whaumpla sound of a CH-47 Chinook grew from the din.

As most of you who know helicopters are familiar that blade slap echoes like a chili tasters convention in the Grand Canyon and trying to find the bird is brutal, initially.  But then there he was, so I pointed the Nikon at him and snapped the image… completely forgetting that I had the exposure set for the moon.  So my resulting image was thus:

Chinook normal exposure

Seriously, that was what I got in the camera.  The inside of Pelosi’s heart. Then in Adobe Camera Raw I moved many of the sliders to their max:

  • Exposure to +4
  • Recovery to 100
  • Fill – 0
  • Blacks –0
  • Brightness to +4
  • Contract to +42
  • Clarity to +16

And low… the Mystery Noise Maker materialized…

Chinook Adobe Raw

Ah the powers of digital photography… yeah not worthy of the cover of Aviation Week… but pretty cool none the less!

October 19, 2010 in Aviation, Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


September 23, 2010

Jupiter and the Backyard Skyshow

These past couple of nights have been great for an avid skywatcher like myself.  Jupiter has been brilliant, along with the Harvest Moon, and even an intense rainbow thrown in for good measure.

I thought with the cloud cover we had blanketing us here in Denver this evening, I was going to be out of luck for viewing and photographing the spectacle of the Harvest Moon over Jupiter tonight.  Turns our our little front created a few photo ops I hadn’t expected, and it even cleared up enough to snap a few nice images… Below for your viewing pleasure.

I’ll start with last night’s long exposure of Jupiter passing overhead.  (long as in 15 minutes long!)  That’s Jupiter over the pine tree.

jupiter crossing 9-21-10 

And now to today.  All day we’ve had a solid overcast with some rain thrown in for good measure, so I thought I was done skywatching until at least tomorrow.  I was wrong, near sunset, the clouds parted just enough to let the sun’s rays cast a fantastic rainbow off to the east.  This thing was SUPER intense, and a slight double to boot, you can barely make out the second band on the right.


As fast as the clouds parted, they returned, and once again I thought I would not be able to see the moon or Jupiter this evening.  I was wrong.

Various times throughout the evening the clouds would break affording me an opportunity to snap a few images of the Harvest Moon and Jupiter, in the cloud whipped sky. 

cloud moon

Moon and Jupiter 2010

The big problem is that the moon is exceptionally bright and Jupiter for as bright as it is this evening, cannot compete. So in the above image, to capture Jupiter and some of the sky I had to have a fairly long exposure (4 seconds at a 400 ISO in the picture above) in which the moon overexposes, but Jupiter immediately beneath is clearly visible in the cloudy night sky.  Same below… the motion effect is due to the clouds blowing fairly quickly into the scene.

Moon and Jupiter 2010 2

I couldn’t leave the moon overexposed like that, I had to take at least one quality image of that magnificent harvest moon, thus the image below… I was amazed that I took this at 1/160 f13… that moon is seriously refulgent!

harvest mooon 2010 2

And finally I tried once again to secure a couple of Jupiter and its moons.  Two of the moons are extremely close to each other tonight (on the left) and appear as one.

Jupiter and moons

And this one below I liked because if you look real close, that feint light at the top left of this image is Uranus only another 1,483 million miles further than Jupiter!

Jupiter and Uranus

Hope you like them…

And in the words of the late Dr. Jack Horkheimer, “Keep Looking Up!”

September 23, 2010 in Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


September 18, 2010

Ok… You try to photograph Jupiter!

I heard yesterday that on Monday Jupiter and it’s moons will be making their closest pass to earth since 1963 and until 2022. If you look to the eastern sky shortly after sunset you will see our celestial neighbor a mere 368 million miles away.

So I thought… naively… that I might, just might be able to secure some interesting photos of the 2nd largest body (next to Rosie O'Donnell of course) in our solar system.

Ha! I think it’d be easier to bite a porcupine in the ass!

First don’t kid yourself, a 300mm lens that can take this picture of the moon, doesn’t even begin to get close to being able to capture Jupiter! It’s like coming to the plate with a toothpick instead of a baseball bat!

moon Sept 17 2010

Remember, the moon is only 238,857 miles away!  Jupiter? Is… well… farther!

What?… I don’t care if Jupiter is bigger.  Look, an Aircraft carrier 15 miles away looks smaller than a canoe that is only 15 feet away.  Get the point?

Anyway, here’s the best I could muster… the 4 other dots are Jupiter’s 4 Galilean moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto the largest of its 63 total.

jupiter and moons

So, as you can see, Jupiter becomes really nothing more than a bright white dot in the eastern sky.  Btw, if you are curious you can see pretty much what this image captured with a good pair of binoculars, you’ll easily see The Planet with the four neighboring moons.

I did try to capture a time exposure of Jupiter’s transit across our evening sky, but a funny thing happened on the way to this picture.  I had the fStop way open on this shot, and on a long exposure it really let in the ambient light generated by the sun reflecting Waxing Gibbous Moon (first photo).  HA!  It looked like I had taken the shot in broad daylight!  When in actuality it was about 2 hours after sunset!  It was black outside! That UFO in the middle is Jupiter, the rest of the streaks are the paths of stars created by our earth’s rotation on its axis.

Bright Jupiter

The I took a couple of others just for the fun of it, one of a passing plane, and the other of my backyard (common ground) in my townhouse neighborhood (the bright light through the tree is the moon).

The plane did not do some dramatic turn, that’s where I bumped the tripod with my size 12’s just as I released the shutter for the 6 second exposure.  Hey, I was hustling even to try to get this shot!

passing plane2

And the neighborhood.

backyard night

Again, 10:30ish at night.  Ehh… Something to do.

September 18, 2010 in Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


July 21, 2010

Denver Moon

Yesterday marked the 41st anniversary of the first moon landing.  Due to the storms here in Denver (you might have read about the severe turbulence experienced by a United Airlines flight last night caused by that front) I was unable to snap any images of one of my favorite subjects… the Moon.

I grew up in the age of Apollo, and have been fascinated with the Moon ever since. Too bad today’s, or tomorrow’s youth for that matter will not have similar heroes to look up too like I had, Armstrong, Aldrin, Conrad, Bean, Shepard, Schmidt, Cernan… etc

So tonight, even though we still had a few clouds lingering, I snapped a few images of our nearest celestial neighbor, one our Administration has decided does not warrant a visit to anytime in the next quarter century.  Too bad, it holds many mysteries yet to be discovered by someone… China maybe?


Moon 7-21-10e Moon 7-21-10a

Moon 7-21-10b

Moon 7-21-10d

Nikon D80 using a Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens (f/13 or so) on a tripod, with a remote shutter release, on a exposure delay (to avoid as much shake as I could) for those interested in the details.

July 21, 2010 in Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack


July 16, 2010

Question Authority

Stealing from the Liberal-Socialist-Commie mantra chanted regularly at every Anti-[insert your favorite Republican Administration here] rally… 

We need to “Question Authority” a bit more when it comes to data, and articles used to advance a cause.  In this world where everything seems presented from a political stance, including science, we need, now more than ever, a stable set of data-points.

Many may have seen this article Posted today in most Media outlets:

NOAA: June, April to June, and Year-to-Date Global Temperatures are Warmest on Record

Last month’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the warmest June on record and the warmest on record averaged for any April-June and January-June periods, according to NOAA. Worldwide average land surface temperature was the warmest on record for June and the April-June period, and the second warmest on record for the year-to-date (January-June) period, behind 2007.


The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, which is based on records going back to 1880, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.

It’s that last part that is truly important here… “NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.”

All the more reason to “GET IT RIGHT!”   That is indeed a scary looking map… But, in what many will not read today, because it doesn’t meet the Mainstream Media’s filtered lens, one of the NOAA Weather Stations’ Official  Observers , Dr. Richard Keen has a bit of a problem with this report.

“NOAA’s calculation of the global temperature is based on their analysis of departures at 2000 or so grid points.  One of those points included my weather station at Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado, a location with no UHI or other troublesome influences.  The NOAA map of June anomalies for the US, based on an unknown selection of stations, has Coal Creek sitting on the +4F contour.”

“The Coal Creek record is long enough to calculate 30-year normals, and June 2010 comes in at +1.0F above normal.”

That’s 3 degrees less than the NOAA estimate for the same location, which is the difference between June being in the top 3 or being in the middle third.  Now, this is simply a spot check of one of NOAA’s 2000 grid points, but it leads to the question of how far off are the other grid points?

Dr. Richard Keen

That’s a spot check from a guy who’s data they are supposed to be using!  There is an immediate integrity problem with this data.  But, I’m sure you won’t be hearing this voice from the wilderness on CNN.

On a related note: 

Joe D’Aleo, meterologist and co-founder of The Weather Channel, says,

“…too many of the weather stations NOAA uses are in warmer urban areas.

"The only reliable data set right now is satellite," D'Aleo says.

He says NASA satellite data shows the average temperature in June was 0.43 degrees higher than normal. NOAA says it was 1.22 degrees higher.”

Hmmm almost a 300% difference (error) in the data. who do we believe?  I guess the answer lies in what party you’re registered with. 

Scientific method where are you when we need you?

July 16, 2010 in Politics, Science, Weather | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack


July 11, 2010

Damn… 4 Eyes Are Better than 2

Yesterday I took possession of my first pair of glasses evah!


Actually my first 2 pair.  My reading-computer’n glasses came in as well, still waiting on my “Cool Dude” Maui Jims. 

I’m not sure if I am depressed or glad that I have them.  On the drive home from the opto… optha… optmal… FRICK!…  Eye-Guy! I wore my “everyday” pair.  I really didn’t notice too much of a difference other than a return of sharpness to my longer distance vision.  That is until I did a bit of a comparison test on the freeway.  We have a stretch where the front range of the Rockies is the backdrop, a great view actually.  Well I did the ol’ ok here’s with the specs… and then lifted them to see the view without…

Damn… That’s fuzzy! 

With… WOW!…

Without… … … DAMN!  Yep need ‘em!

Using an image I took on the golf course a couple of weeks ago, here’s an idea of what I was seeing… or not seeing. (If you need help too, click either image. ;-)

uncorrected corrected

I was ok in the short field of vision but longer distances were fuzzing out a bit. Now that may not seem like too much of a big deal to many of my now fellow bats, but for a guy who has lived 44 years with 20/15 or better it was becoming quite annoying.

And if I looked up at a passing airplane, this is what I was seeing. 


Yeah… that ain’t right…

July 11, 2010 in Biographical, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack