Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Best wishes for the new year. Bonaire greets the new year with cooler weather (79F at 5:30 this afternoon) and lots of fireworks. It is not a good time for dogs or other creatures with sensitive hearing.

Our TWR co-workers and down the street neighbors, the Veldmans, had an open house this afternoon. Dick was in mass production mode making oliebollen, yum!

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Incredible Disappearing Books

Sandra and I are both active readers, so we were suitably thrilled earlier this year when two of the Stateside library systems that we visit when we are in the States began lending Kindle e-books online. The new and popular books in their inventories have long waiting lists, but we can always find something we'd like to read when we do an online search... until tonight that is.

There must be a whole lot of other people out there planning to curl up with a good book over the holiday weekend, because the virtual library shelves are just about bare today.

One library system that has over 500 Kindle books in their system only had 9 available for checkout tonight. Another system with over 900 Kindle titles only had 4!

Kind of restores my hope for the future of civilization.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Orion over the Office

I've been waiting for quite a while to get a chance to capture Orion rising over the TWR office building. the skies cleared up this week, so I did some imaging three nights in a row. I tried all sorts of combinations of exposures and settings. It turns out that there is too much ambient light to use the type of settings I use at the slave huts. I'll just have to hope for an island wide power failure at the right time of the year, and the right time of the lunar cycle. We actually had a nice power failure a week ago, but I didn't get out to shoot any pictures, oops.
I ended up using a simple 5 second exposure at ISO 800. I drew in some of the constellation lines so you can get oriented. Auriga is at the top left corner. Orion is at the top right corner. The legs of Gemini are at the upper right corner of the studio mural and part of Monoceros is to the right of Gemini. The Rosette nebula is near those Monoceros stars, but it doesn't show up in this short exposure. It shows up great in the Photopic Sky Survey (see my other post from today) but the view is upside down compared to my images here.

You'll probably be able to better see the stars if you click on these thumbnails to see the larger images. The light from the Sodium streetlights was so lacking in blue that I couldn't color correct the building no matter what I tried, so I left it looking pretty much like it actually looks at night. A power failure with a nice moon behind me would make for the perfect image colors.

I suppose it would be inappropriate to pray for a power failure now wouldn't it?

Second Coolest Web Site Ever

Hmmm, maybe it's actually the third coolest Web site... not counting commercial sites like eBay and Amazon...

I guess Google would be the most useful to me, then Google Earth; but if I lump those together, then the Photopic Sky Survey site could still rank as number two.

I thought I had mentioned this site back last July, when Chris Bogart first told me about it. I just checked and it appears that I failed to do so. So when I saw that Nick Risinger's images, and the story behind them, are featured in the February 2012 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine, it reminded me to tell you all about this great resource.

I have to say that the amazing zoom-in-able images on this site are real game changers for someone who has spent the past the past 35 years scanning the dark Bonaire skies. The better you know the night skies at naked eye and binocular magnifications, the more fun you will have with this site.

Open and globular clusters, galaxies and emission nebulae show up beautifully. Planetary nebulae like the Dumbbell Nebula and the Ring Nebula aren't that easy to spot.

I've now got a list of large faint emission nebulae I'm going to try to image, based on what I've see online. For example, there is a giant red area located between the tail of Canus Major, Canopus, and the "false cross." I'd seen it outlined on printed maps, but the image on this site shows just how awesomely huge this nebulous region actually is. If we have clear skies this spring, I'll definitely try to capture it with my wide angle lens.

I often study the astro-photos I've taken and compare them with visual observations I've made, but this Web site works way better for that. It is still fun and challenging to try to take pictures of my very own, of course.

Bonaire Panoramas II

I mentioned the Bonaire Panoramas web site back in March. Lo and Behold, it turns out that one of the panoramas was shot right in front of the TWR office building. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cool Time Lapse video of Comet

January is just around the corner and hopefully we'll get some super clear skies here on Bonaire, so I can try some more landscape astrophotos and time lapse astro videos. I've just finished building a super neat, low tech, tracking drive from a Stanley hinge and a few screws and nuts, as described in the Aug. 2010 issue of Sky and Telescope. I tried it out last night and it seems to work. (shock shock)

Here is a link to a time lapse video of a super amazing comet that just popped out from behind the sun. It can be seen from the southern hemisphere.

The southern cross and the dark coal-sack nebula can be seen near the top of the Milky Way band as the video begins.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

IBC update

We had a dress rehersal for the Christmas Eve. service Wed. night. The actual service is at 8pm on Saturday. If you are on the island, we'd love to see you there.

We've been enjoying the new International Church building for a half a year or so. Now we've just started adding on some classrooms to the north side of the auditorium. You can see the foundation for the classrooms in the above photo.
The young people meet in this outdoor pavilion during the Sunday School hour.

Christmas Party

Our newly augmented TWR Bonaire staff had a Christmas get together Tuesday night at the Plaza beach barbeque.
Amado and Sue, and Walt and Lynne were also invited in recognition of the valuable help they've provided to us during this transition year. Amado can be seen in the foreground in the top image. Sandra and Lynne are pictured above. In the background you can see the steel band setting up and also one of the ubiquitous cruise ships.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Amado and Sue Felix just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Pictured here with them is Wai-Man Chan from the China Nobo restaurant.

Congratulations Amado and Sue.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

TWR Listeners in Cuba

A couple of our co-workers recently drove all over Cuba and visited many of the faithful and enthusiastic listeners to our Bonaire radio programming.
TWR has posted some clips and images from this trip on YouTube and you can see them here.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Bonaire Weather

If you scroll down to the bottom of the blog, you find the current Bonaire weather.
If you click on the weather forcast dot com link, you can see more detailed weather info.
The only thing I noticed is that the sunrise and sunset times are both one hour too early. Sunrise is at 6:20 not 5:20 and the sunset is at 18:57, not 17:57 Bonaire time. (and Eastern daylight time)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Astro Images

If you look back through my blog archives, you'll notice that in the month of July each year, we seem to get a clear dark night or two and I am able to do some astrophotography. This year was no exception. I went out to a "secret spot" near Sorobon back on July 26 and spent a number of hours enjoying very clear skies and some nice meteors too.
The view above is always referred to as the area around Rho Ophiuchus. But the bright yellow star at the bottom middle is Antares, the heart of the scorpion, and that's how I locate it. This is pretty much the full frame from a 85mm lens.

The two bright stars in the lower middle of the frame form the stinger of the scorpion. They point towards the upper left to open cluster M7. It is almost swallowed up by the star clouds in this shot but M7 is easy to spot in binoculars and can be detected with the naked eye.

To the upper right of M7 is open cluster M6, which is easy to spot in a nice dark patch of sky. The darkness is the result of foreground dust obscuring the milky way stars. An image made using infra-red light would see right through the dust and show the stuff behind it. Cool.

The two red areas to the right of the stinger are emisson nebulae. The lower one is ngc 6334 the cat's paw nebula, and the upper one is probably ncg 6357. I have not been able to spot these ngc objects with the 10x50 binoculars. This is also almost the full frame with an 85mm lens.

The above image is a combination of three frames shot with the 85mm lens, so you are looking at a much larger swath of sky than is seen in the first two photos. Part of the spout of the Sagitarius teapot is at the lower right corner. There are lots of star clusters and nebulae visible in this shot. I may make a poster sized print of this one someday because there are lot of pixels to work with in the original file. (7317x4774)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Snorkel Video clip

We did a snorkle a few weeks ago, from La Dania's leap to Karpata. It was windy and choppy, but we went in the downwind direction.
The coral in the La Dania area is particularly nice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

IBCB Opening Day Video

I've put together a few very brief video clips from the opening ceremony and first service at the International Bible Church of Bonaire on July 10.

Monday, July 11, 2011

First Service at New IBCB Building

Yesterday was the official opening day and first worship service at the new International Bible Church building. There was a brief ceremony outside and then we all marched in while singing "I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart... for He hath made me glad."

Bicento and Betty (Ratzlaff) Henriquez came over from Aruba for the weekend. You can see them sitting in the middle on the left side in the photo below.

There were lots of friends and visitors in attendance. It was standing room only after a bit. Probably were 145 people or so.

Here is a view looking from where the muscians were standing, back to the porch on the left, and the main entrance on the right.

Everyone hung around for quite a while after the service and enjoyed cake, coffie and punch. Friendly fellowship after the church services is one of the main drawing cards of the IBC.

Friday, July 08, 2011

IBCB Grand Opening this Sunday

We're going to have the first Sunday worship service in the new International Bible Church building this coming Sunday, July 10.

There is lots of finish work to do on the building, but it is definately ready to use in its present state. That scaffolding was up yesterday, but some volunteers are taking it down today, and I'm going to haul it back to TWR later this afternoon. Most of the work on the building continues to be done by volunteers, both local people and companies, as well as international visitors.

The grand opening kicks off promptly at 9am, and everyone here on the island is very welcome to come join us for this happy event.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

New Time Lapse Milky Way video

I really like the stars and the colors in this time lapse video of the southern Milky Way. If you have a fast Internet connection, watch it in 720p instead of the low res default setting.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Clear Skies Again

The night-time sky was very nice Sunday evening so I went out to the backside of nowhere with my camera and tripod, and shot some Milky Way pictures, 687 of them to be exact. I hope to make them into a time lapse movie some time soon.

Here is one frame from the sequence. It is a 30 second exposure at f2.8 and the ISO was 1600.

New Google Earth Image of Bonaire

I was using Google Earth a week or so ago to show Ethan and Andrew some good hiking trails here on Bonaire. I was surprised and very pleased to see that pretty much the whole North half of Bonaire has a new satellite picture from January 2011. You can see how green Bonaire was/is from all the rain in 2010/2011.

The details when you zoom in on this image are wonderful, there are fewer pesky clouds in the way, and this picture shows a lot of new construction that wasn't on the old images.

For example, you can see the new International Bible Church building if you search on:

12.169620, -68.284757

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Summer Milky Way

We had nice clear skies Saturday evening so Ethan, Andrew, Bud and I zoomed out to Red Slave to see the Milky Way. We did some binocular observing, picture taking and a little telescope viewing. The top shot was taken early in the evening and is looking a little more to the east than the shot below. It shows the stars east all the way to Scutum on the left.
The shot below was taken later and you can see that the Milky Way has tilted a bit as it makes its way around the south pole. It also shows the stars all the way west to the southern cross on the right.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Getting Here from There

According to a recent Bonaire Insider story, Insel Air has extended its promotional fares on the new Charlotte to Curacao direct flight with continuing service to Bonaire. These new flights are on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
If you book your trip before August 13 and complete your travel before December 14, the round trip fare from Charlotte to Bonaire, including all taxes, is just $366.70. That sounds like a really great deal to me.
You can find out more, inlcuding the specific flight numbers of the new flights, info. on connecting to US Airways flights, etc. on the Bonaire Insider web site.
Insel Air also has a weekly direct flight to Bonaire leaving from Miami on Saturday afternoons that a number of our friends have taken advantage of.
Saturday is the big day for travel to Bonaire with Continental flights arriving in the morning, Delta arriving in the afternoon, and Insel Air arrriving in the evening.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Puppy Pix

You'll have to bear with me 'cause there will probably be a plethora of puppy pix for a while. That table top is a safe haven from the rampaging puppy, for now...

We were over at our neighbors, the Barkers, for some socializing, both for us and for the pup. He did great with the kids and with their four dogs.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sandra is Back

Sandra was in Florida for a while helping her parents. She came back today and brought a little friend along as carry on baggage. It's unanimous, the grass is greener on the other side of that metal thing.

Puppy chow, yum yum.

Jellyfish Jamboree Update

The jellyfish team had a great time at Karl's Beach Bar last night. The saw a bunch of jellies and got to meet quite a few people from Bonaire who are interested in the jellies for one reason or another. It is actually been amazing to find out how many people here have been stung over the years. Many of us (that is an editorial us) here on Bonaire spend a LOT of time in the water, and I suspect that makes a difference.

Dr Allen Collins from the Smithsonian Institute and Dr Angel Yanagihara from the University of Hawaii will be speaking at the CIEE starting at 7 PM Monday night. Everyone is welcome to come hear and meet two of the world's top jellyfish experts.

I haven't met Dr Collins yet, but I got to spend an evening with Angel and the Gillans at Johan and Esther's house and I can report that Angel's work and the innovative ideas that kept popping up in her conversation were very interesting.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Use for TWR office wing

Today, TWR and EOZ signed an agreement regarding the use of the TWR office wing at our studios on Bonaire for an expertise center for learning disabilities on Bonaire. This learning center will serve the public education system; supporting parents, teachers, and students regarding assisting students with disabilities.

TWR is pleased to make this part of our building available in support of the educational needs of the people of Bonaire. This is the second time in recent years that TWR has hosted an educational institution in the office wing of the studio building; the first being the launch of the Basisschool de Pelikaan, which has grown and now continues in the former TWR activity center.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Christmas in June

We just received in the mail yesterday,a Christmas card from my brother and sister in law, who live in Colorado.
The postmark says they mailed the card on Dec. 15, 2010 and a bold red stamp indicates that it was mis-sent to Aruba.
Must have been Aruba on the moon.... no, the card has clearly gotten soaked with water at some point, and I think the moon is dry for the most part.... wonder where it's been all these months?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday Sunset

We're really hoping for one night this week with super clear skies, so we can see the summer milky way in all its glory.

Sunday looked promising, but ended up cloudy. The clouds and haze made for a great sunset though.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wheels in Washington Park

I remember the "Where's Waldo" books from when our son, Richard, was young. Here we have a variation, "where's the mtn. biker? It is easy to disappear in the wilds of Washington. Frank Bohm and the Freewieler Bike shop sponsored a bike ride in Washington Park today. I think there were 15 riders. Frank, left, is talking to Bud Gillan, right before the start of the ride. The Gillans volunteered to drive behind the riders in case anyone had any problems.

Below, Brad and Ethan ponder the restorative properties of Gatorade as they take a break at Slag Bai. The road from Slag Bai to the exit is still not open, after sustaining damage during the super rainy wet season. We rode in on the long route and back out on what is usually the short "in" route.

Below, TWR interns, Ethan (left) and Andrew (right), check out the whale skeleton with Smithstonian intern, Daniel.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Snorklers in Action

Sandra's cousins Bud and Nancyann Gillan are here on their annual visit. We're doing lots of snorkeling, star gazing, and generally enjoying the great Bonaire outdoors. Bud's enthusiasm for jellyfish has come to fruition in the Bonaire Jellyfish Jamboree, happening right now. You can learn more about it from this Bonaire Insider story and from this Florida newspaper story.

Ethan and Andrew, our hard working TWR summer interns are also turning into serious snorklers. It doesn't hurt any that there is a great beach right across the street from where they are living.

Drift Snorkel

We did a great drift snorkel Saturday morning from La Dania's Leap to Karpata. The coral was abundant, the fish were ok, and we saw a bunch of turtles. There is a lot of water movement along here and lots of soft corals and sea fans flapping around.

We saw some cool schools of fish.

Look for the old anchor chain running from the lower left to the upper right of the picture below.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Windsurfing Update

The PWA freestyle championships finished up yesterday (Thursday) and our local sailors did very well indeed. You can read a brief overview on the Bonaire Insider.

The wind was great on Monday and Tuesday, a little soft on Wednesday, but kicked back in on Thursday, and it seems to be blowing pretty good today (Friday) for the Pro Kids competition that is now underway. Some of today's PWA stars were ProKids not that long ago...

You can read and see more about the windsurfing action on Bonaire this week here.
There is a great Day 4 interview with Daphne Cchman and Robert McCormick about the upcoming documentary about the Bonaire windsurfing community on there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Windsurfing Clips

While I was watching the PWA freestyle championships at Sorobon on Sunday, I shot some video clips with my trusty pocketcam.
I was only there for the early rounds and I suspect that the best sailors were saving their really good moves for the final rounds.
But it is still pretty cool to see what they were doing out there.

Monday, June 13, 2011

8th annual Bonaire Mini Triathlon

The eighth annual Jong Bonaire fun triathlon was held early this past Sunday morning. This is a fun oriented, family friendly event and all ages were represented this year. Proceeds from the triathlon are used for the Jong Bonaire center and for activities for the youth of Bonaire. The fun category consisted of a 850 meter swim, a 11.6 kilometer bike ride and a 5 kilometer run. The "pro" category included a 1500 meter swim, a 23.2 kilometer bike ride and a 10 kilometer run. Both categories were open to solo competitors as well as three person relay teams.

Everyone started in front of the Regatta House. The fun category competators swam directly along the coast to the fruit market in front of City Cafe. The pro competators swam to the north for a while before making a u-turn and heading to the fruit market boat ramp.
Did I mention that this was a fun, family friendly event?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Washington Park Video

There is a nice new video on YouTube featuring George "Kultura" Thode talking about Washington Park.

PWA Freestyle Finals on Bonaire

The Professional Windsurfers Association (PWA) freestyle world championships kicked off today in great windy conditions at Sorobon. After events in Vietnam and Austria, three of Bonaire's own are ranked first, third and fifth in the world this year. You know they are going to pull out all the stops to to consolidate or improve their positions, as they perform in front of friends and family, in this the final event of the season.

There is massive media presence here for the championships.

Friday, June 10, 2011

US Vice Consul visits Bonaire

This past Thursday, Vice Consul Winifred Hofstetter from the US Consulate in Curacao made a working visit to Bonaire. Some passport related matters require one to sign papers in the presence of a US official, so consular officers come to Bonaire from time to time, so we don't have to make the trip to Curacao. I hadn't met the Vice Consul on her previous visit to Bonaire. We were probably on one of our medical trips to the States. She is a kind and helpful person, not officious at all, but she definately knows her stuff.

Trans World Radio has traditionally provided office space during these consular visits and this year was no exception.

Vice Consul Hofstetter also visited Jong Bonaire to make a donation of books. Jong Bonaire, in return, presented her with a copy of the Papiamentu/English dictionary originally published by TWR, but currently reprinted and distributed by Jong Bonaire.

The Vice Consul also had a working lunch at my wife's favorite restaurant, the Bistro de Paris. Those present included the chief consular warden for Boinaire, Michael Gaynor, and two new consular wardens, Bob Lassiter, and Pastor Baran of the International Bible Church.

In the photo from left to right, you can see: Pastor Baran, Vice Consul Winifred Hofstetter, Donna Gassert, Bob Lassiter and Michael Gaynor.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Summer Interns

Andrew and Ethan are two mechanical engineering students who are here for a couple months to help out wherever than can. They are at the left end of the front row in this picture, which I shot during sunday school at the International Bible Church this past Sunday.

We went snorkling Sunday afternoon at Tori's Reef and saw three spotted eagle rays! Pretty cool.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Bonaire Animal Shelter Video

The Bonaire Animal Shelter has a great new video on YouTube.
If you like cute puppies and kittens, you'll love this one.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Milky Way Time Lapse

We had a very clear night last week, the first one since February. So I zoomed out to Red Slave to take pictures of the Milky Way rising over the huts.

At the start of the sequence, you can see the red Eta Carina nebula towards the lower right edge of the frame. The Southern Cross and Coal Sack nebula are to the upper left of the Eta Carina Nebula.

Scorpius looks like a giant fish hook on the left side of the frame. After a little while, the Sagitarius Teapot enters the frame from the lower left side.

A bunch of planes fly by, there is lightning on the horizon, and a car zooms by. And then after about three and a half hours, clouds start rolling in.

I drew some lines in the picture, above, to show what some of the constellations look like. You'll probably need to click on it to see it large enough to see the lines. This frame comes from the middle of the sequence so Eta Carina has already set and Sagitarius has already entered from the left.

Scroll down the page to see the video. If you select the 720p version, it looks reasonably good, even at full screen size.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Braced for Action

Ivan is busy prepping new parts for our next round of tower rebuilding action, which will probably take place in early 2012. Notice the giant fan in the background. There was little to no wind last week, here on Bonaire, which made for great bike riding, but hot and nasty working conditions. The new cross brases are cleaned, taped, primed and painted. The braces have to make good metal to metal contact where they connect to each other and to the tower legs.

After all new parts are bolted onto the tower, the joints are all primed and painted in place.