Friday, November 30, 2007

Comet Update

Comet Holmes is still putting on a show for us, but it is much more difficult to see, compared to a month ago. The above picture is from Friday night. The moon was very bright and there was a slight haze in the sky, even in between the many clouds. We couldn't see the comet at all with our naked eye, and could just barely see it with the binoculars.
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

Wonderful Weather

The rainy season is still with us, here on Bonaire, but we're more in the occasional downpour mode, than the steady rain all day type thing. Our earliest sunset time was about a week ago, and the dirt roads in the hills north of Hato are dry enough to mtn. bike on, so my after work bike rides will be a little easier to squeeze in soon.

The temperatures are noticeably cooler too, although there is often still a high degree of mugginess. Of course, noticeably cooler on Bonaire means a drop of a few degrees. When the weather hardly changes, we become amazingly sensitive to the slightest changes. It's not at all like New York last week, where it was sixty degrees F. for the Thanksgiving Day Macy's parade and about 30 degrees F the next morning when people were lined up outside all the stores waiting for those Black Friday bargains.

Here is a graph from Weather Underground showing the high and low temperatures, here on Bonaire, this month. If you look really closely, you'll see that it is indeed getting cooler, heh-heh.

In fact, the nights are so cold and clammy, the dogs make every effort to avoid sleeping on the concrete floor, as can be seen in the other photo I've included.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Multitasking / ATM

Our TWR facilities,here on Bonaire, are really into multitasking these days. Besides our offices and studios, they also provide a home for a grammar school, a high school, an Intelsat monitoring station, and the nerve center of the Bonaire Youth Outreach Foundation.

The BYOF is in the news these days with a multimedia campaign called "Seks no ta un Wega." This effort, which has a broad base of community support, will culminate on December 1, the International day of AIDS/HIV awareness, with a big rally/concert at Jong Bonaire.

Last week, the BYOF held events in the barrios of Nikiboko and North Salina. They will be invading Anriol and Rincon this week. Their goal is to encourage kids and young people to consider abstinence as a way to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, and other consequences of "recreational sex".

Check out their creative web site that is loaded with all sorts of great content, and the tag line: "sex is not a game - don't gamble with your life."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday Comet Update

Comet Holmes was surprisingly difficult to see Friday evening (and Saturday too). It has dimmed slightly from mag 2.9 to mag 3.1, but that brightness is also being spread out over a larger area, so the "surface brightness" is a lot less.

The moon is getting bright too, which is probably making it harder to spot the comet. It was even pretty dim in binoculars on Saturday evening.

The bottom line is that the comet doesn't jump out and smack you in the eyeballs like it did just a few days ago, but it is still well worth checking out.

It still photographs well, as you can see in this shot from Friday night. This is a stack of four 4second exposures at F2.8 and ISO1600. It looks like I got the focus better on this one than the one from November 10.
Here is a link to the post from Nov. 1 as well, if you want to see a wide angle view and get a feel for how the comet has been moving with respect to the stars.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bad Feather Day

Well, we've all probably had a bad hair day at some time, so we can empathise with these birds who are having a bad feather day. We are at that time of the year, here on Bonaire, where early morning showers are pretty common, even on otherwise clear and sunny days. The above birds appear to be Bare-eyed Pigeons. They look a lot like the White-tipped or White-faced Dove, but have a light colored beak instead of a dark one.
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

Fish Fun

We visited Washington Park a couple times while my family was here with us. It felt strange to me to glide up hills in our diesel powered pickup truck that I normally grind up with much huffing and puffing and perspiring on my bike. One of the highlights of our time in the park was snorkeling at Wayaka 2. There is a sandy beach entry to the fairly calm water, and fish that aren't afraid to get right up in your face.
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.

Family Foto

As I mentioned recently, we've been enjoying some fun family times with my parents and my brother and his wife.
After the church service at the International Bible Church of Bonaire, we all posed by the big world map and asked some friends to help with snapping a couple family photos. Lucy shot some with her camera and later presented us with beautiful print copies.

Bob Lassiter used my dying Minolta camera to take the one you see here. Thank you Bob and Lucy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Comet Holmes Update

We've been watching comet Holmes each night. It seems easier to see now, even though it has dimmed slightly from magnitude 2.9 to magnitude 3. Even with the naked eye, it seems to have grown in diameter and now looks distinctly fuzzy.

It's really fuzzy in binoculars. I shot this picture with a 85 mm lens, so it shows a "zoomed in" view compared to the picture I posted earlier, which was shot with a 24mm wide angle lens. I stacked a number of 4 second exposures at F2.8 and ISO 1600 for this image. There was some coma in the corners of the image, which I have cropped out, so I'll probably be trying this lens at F4 next time out.
The original size images showed that the stars moved during the four second exposure, but after I scaled the picture down for the Web, the stars look ok. I was able to shoot eight second exposures with the 24m lens, but four seconds is a little too long at 85mm. The more of a telephoto lens one uses, the more the earths rotation streaks the star images, and the more one needs to get out the good old motorized telescope mount to track the stars during the exposure.

7th Annual Eco-Swim

I counted about 80 swimmers churning up the clear blue waters of Hato this morning. They were participating in the seventh annual Eco-Swim open water swimming races.
There were 10k, 5k, 3k, and 1k distance categories, as well as sub categories for those who were using fins. (seems like we used to call them flippers back in my youth)
I shot a a few pictures that I'll try stitching into a panorama, but don't know if it will pan our or not. It is tricky because those pesky swimmers keep moving while I am taking the images that will make up the panorama. Here is a regular picture that I cropped to resemble a panoramic image.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Family Fun

We're enjoying a visit from my parents these days. My brother, Bruce, and his wife, Laurie, have just wrapped up a fun filled week with us too.

We got in a bike ride to Playa Frans, lots of snorkeling, two trips to Washington Park, and managed to squeeze in some good old R and R as well.

While Bruce and Laurie were here, their daughter, who is a freshman at the University of the Pacific, was tapped to start for the Tigers in the first pre-season game. It looks like she is going to get a good bit of playing time at beginning of the season, which is an exciting, but somewhat daunting prospect.

We listened to her first game, live, on the Internet. UOP won and she did well, which resulted in lots of cheering from her proud parents. In this photo you can see the aforementioned proud parents, as well as a proud grandpa checking out the game stats.
Sandra, who grew up in countries where basketball wasn't that big a thing found it all rather puzzling, ha-ha.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Comet Holmes Picture

We could easily see comet Holmes the last three nights. Here is a picture that shows a rough outline of the constellation Perseus and where the comet is. It doesn't seem to move much from night to night.

You might be able to see in this picture that the comet is fuzzy looking compared to the stars. You can just barely detect this fuzziness with the naked eye, but it is really obvious in our 10x50 binoculars.

Sky and Telescope has more information and a finder chart that shows where Perseus and the comet are relative to some of the other stars and constellations.