Brad Swanson reports on the happenings in and around Trans World Radio's station on the island of Bonaire. TWR Bonaire broadcasts Gospel music and Bible teaching programs which can be heard in Latin America and the Caribbean: in the Spanish, English, Portuguese, Baniwa, and Macuxi languages.
You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
No Loose Lithium Batteries in Checked Baggage
Here is the full story on the Bonaire Insider web site.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Full Moon Fun
I cheated and used a bit of fill flash on this one to fill in the Moon shadows while Bob set his sites on the the lights of Playa.
Here is an attempt to expose for the lights of town, as well as the moonlit areas of the island. I'll probably play with these images some more to see what variations I can come up with.
There was a cruise ship in port that day. Cruise ships often leave shortly after sunset, but this one stayed around until late that night. To the naked eye, it looked like a big building covered with Christmas lights.
Moon and Mars
Two Comet Show on Friday Evening
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
A Green Christmas
Christmas morning found Sandra doing some last minute Christmas light repairs.
We didn't set up a fill size Christmas tree this year because our six month puppy would have probably knocked it over. So we had a mico mini tree on the table.
We visited with some friends in the afternoon, and then in the evening we went to the Christmas Buffet at the Divi Flamingo hotel. We enjoyed the buffet A LOT and will probably do it again next year. Entrees included baked fish, yummy turkey with all the fixings, baked ham, and rib roast. We tried them all of course.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Long Time No Post
But we're both feeling much better now. I might even venture out on an easy bike ride tomorrow. I think it will take me a couple weeks to get back up to speed though.
I sold all my Minolta camera gear on eBay since my last post. My six auctions ended late on a Sunday night, everyone paid promptly, and my dad graciously packed and shipped the stuff right away. By the Friday, everyone had received their goodies. The guy who won my Maxxum 28/2 lens was particularly happy. I'm not surprised. The 28/2 produced cleaner star shapes in my astro photos at F2.8 than my Canon 24/2.8 does at F4! The Maxxum 100/2.8 macro was also better wide open at F2.8 than my Canon 85/1.8 is at F2.8. Bob Lassiter has Canon's 100/2.8 macro, and he says that I can try it out under the stars some time.
I saw the International Space Station pass right in front of the Sun on Saturday morning. I tried to get set up to image it with my telescope, solar filter, lap top computer, and web cam, but didn't get it all hooked up and functioning in time. Now I'm usually so busy trying to get pictures that I don't even see the event at all. Yesterday was a different story and I am happy to report that the ISS looked really great in my ETX 90 and 26mm eyepiece as it zoomed across the Sun's disk.
I was out this evening taking some pictures of the beautiful Full Moon / Mars pairing and saw the ISS pass by at about 18:55. It was too hazy to get any useful pictures of the ISS but it was fun to see that it was right on schedule, ha-ha. The ISS will be also be visible, here on Bonaire, a couple more evenings this week according to CalSky dot com. As I've mentioned before, the Calsky and Heavens-Above Web sites are worth their weight in gold if you want to know what is going on in the night sky at your location.
At the left side of the picture is the constellation Cassiopeia, it is below the Cass. label and is pretty much lost in the clutter of stars. The double cluster between Cassiopeia and Perseus is above the "D" in the label. Comet Holmes is to the lower left of the "C" in its label, and is above the central part of Perseus. Then way over on the right side of the picture is the Pleiades, located to the upper left of the "P" in the label.
The lower picture is a little larger and doesn't have any pesky labels in it. There is another comet in the sky right now, not too far from the site of this picture. It is much dimmer than comet Holmes, but we'll look for it later this week when the moon isn't up.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Christmas Party Time
Cara Cara - Wara Wara
During the hot and windy spring/summer months, I often see them soaring on thermals and on wind pressure waves associated with some of the ridges and valleys in Washington Park. One bird, soaring near Yuwa Pass, shot up vertically like he was on an invisible elevator. I definitely was suffering from wing envy that day.
During the cloudy and windless fall months, I usually see these birds hanging out on the ground.
I saw four last week as I cycled through the park. Three of them scampered into the undergrowth when they saw me, but this one flew up onto a nearby cactus. He really has two legs, but spent a lot of time perched on only one.
I saw five Cara Cara yesterday. One was flying and four were hanging out on the ground.
Here is a 100% crop from the first picture.
This is a 100% crop of another image.
Some flamingos performed for me too. A couple were so nice as to fly right past me while traveling from one pond to another. I'll post flying flamingo pix sometime soon. I like the contrasting colors in this picture.
I also saw a bull and a few cows in the park last week, in the same area that I saw them once before. But no bovine pictures in the blog. I didn't stop to dig out the camera from my backpack, 'cause I wasn't sure if I could pedal as fast as the bull could run, if he turned out to be camera shy.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Here we see the birthday boy with his wife Sue.
It looks like a photographer feeding frenzy. Notice the kids waiting in the wings before their own feeding frenzy!
Just Plane Fun
Visitors from the Cold North
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Comet Holmes (again)
I took this picture Friday night. It is the first chance I've had to take a "real" astro-phot0 of the comet. Previous images were stacks of 2 second exposures. This one is a stack of one minute exposures, and better shows how rich the central Persius area of the sky is.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Now that the moon isn't rising until later in the evening, we can see the comet with the unaided eye again. It has faded to mag 4.3 or so, so it doesn't jump out at you like it did at the start of November.
The skies were quite clear on Wed. and Thur., at least in the early evening. We could see lots of faint stars and could scan the sky across whole constallations, for the first time in a few weeks.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Multitasking / ATM
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday Comet Update
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Bad Feather Day
This Troupial actually seemed to enjoy fluffing his feathers and grooming them with his beak, so the early morning showers may actually be a good thing, even if the birds look a little scruffy for a while.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Can you find the Flounder in the above photo? They are masters of camouflage. I can see it, even in the small thumbnail version of the photo. You might need to click on it to see the bigger version.
Two large angel fish were particularly nosey and hung around us the whole time we were in the water. Laurie also saw a giant turtle and a couple normal size ones.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Comet Holmes Update
7th Annual Eco-Swim
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Comet Holmes Picture
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Radio Listeners Respond
In August, TWR received forty letters from Cuba, in response to the program A Traves de la Biblia. We also received a letter from Las Vegas, from a person who listened to us when he used to live in Cuba.
Here is a translation of one that came from a listener in the Dominican Republic.
Greetings friends…I listen to you daily on 800 kHz AM during hours of night. My joy is great and I benefit spiritually listening each night to your programs in Spanish and I want to tell you that my life has taken a 180 degree turn around. The truth is that you cannot imagine the understanding that your programs have given me and the change that has taken place in me…May God bless you and I am listening to you everyday.
Hooray, the Weather is Back to Normal
Our weather on Bonaire is getting back to normal now that Tropical storm Noel has moved further away. Normal for this time of the year is early morning showers, and then light winds and sunshine during the day. While Noel was dumping rain on Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR) to our North, we had a week of overcast skies and occasional heavy rains.
Our Trans World Radio team in the DR reports that water has entered part of their new office / studio building and that Noel has created "a national tragedy" in that country. We'll keep those countries in our prayers and we'll remember to be thankful that Bonaire never seems to catch the brunt of these storms.
The skies were clear enough to see comet Holmes the last two evenings. It is very easy to spot, if you know where to look. I snapped a couple pictures last night, but I haven't opened them on the computer yet to see how they look.
Five of us went for an early morning/before work group bike ride today. A lone rain cloud had paid a visit to some of the roads we rode on just before we got there, and they had a soupy sort of muddy texture to them. It was fun actually, but my chain started locking up part way up the back side of Seru Largu, probably because of that mud, grrrrr...
I got myself and the bike cleaned up and still made it to work by 8 am. so all in all, it was a success I think.
Recent Picture Posting Malfunction
Monday, October 29, 2007
Big Bonaire Birdbath
That all purpose Gradall crane/forklift/cherry picker is fairly new on Bonaire, I think, and sure came in handy on this job.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Dog Days of October
New Bright Comet
Our rainy weather here on Bonaire continued today and unfortunately, the sky has been completely clouded over last night and tonight, so I haven't seen it. Aaaarrrrrggggg......
If you know were Perseus is in the sky, you can learn the exact location of the comet here. It sounds like you can't miss it.
Delayed Listener Reaction
This note, just received at Trans World Radio's office in Cary, North Carolina, is a case in point.
My parents were Wycliffe translators for 45 years in South America. Many times we listened to “church” on your radio station while we were out in the jungle. Thank you for feeding us God’s word while my parents worked to make it available to others!!! Blessings!!!
This is certainly not the first response of this type that we have received to our broadcasts. So for the last eight years or so TWR has been producing radio programs specifically for Missionaries and other NGO cross cultural workers. You can read about this initiative here.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Star Count Update
If you like looking at the stars at all, do get outside during the next night or two, before the moon gets bright, and see how many stars you can see from your location. You can figure out your latitude and longitude from Google Maps, and report your findings on the Great Worldwide Star Count website.
It's not many times one gets to contribute to real science without needing a lot of equipment and training.
Speaking of equipment, I'm still experimenting with getting good star pictures with minimal fuss and equipment. I brought my camera and a regular tripod with me when I headed out to count stars. The picture below, shows the stinger of Scorpius' tail as a vertical pair of stars a little left of center at the bottom edge of the picture, just to the right of a cactus. The teapot of Sagitarius is standing on its spout with the bottom of the teapot on the left and the top of the cap to the right. The spout is a little to the left of the middle of the picture, partway into the Milky Way. The handle is a little down from the top of the image. Half way between the stinger and the spout of the teapot is M7, an open cluster of stars.
So I mounted the camera on my trusty tripod, used a 28mm lens at f2.8, and took some 15 second and some 8 second exposures at ISO 800. I could pick these exposure times from the camera's menu, so I didn't need a cable release or remote trigger device. When I got home and looked at the pictures at 100% size, I could see that the stars had moved during the 15 second exposures, but they appeared quite round in the 8 second exposures.
Having said all that, it is interesting that the picture here is a combination of three 15 second exposures that I've downsized for easier viewing online. The stars look round enough in this small size image. (well you can hardly see them at all in the thumbnail. I'm really referring to the 1024x768 image you'll see if you click on the thumbnail) The 15 second pictures showed a lot more Milky Way than the 8 second ones, so I used the 15 second images, and downsized them.
So, if you have a DSLR and happen to be somewhere where you can really see the stars, have a go at taking a picture or two, even if you have to prop up the camera with a rock on the roof of your car and use the self timer to trigger the shot. You won't get a prize winning photo, but you might be surprised by what you can see in that image. I shot some 8 second images of Cygnus while I was out star counting and they showed MANY more stars than I could see with my naked eye. I'm still snooping around Bonaire for a great foreground of cacti, in front of a non light polluted western horizon. I can find one or the other, but not both.... so far.