Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Moon and Planets on NY Eve.

The fireworks are popping and sparkling here on Bonaire tonight. The Moon, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter are lighting up the sky as well.

The moon and Venus are near the top of the picture. Mercury and Jupiter are towards the bottom. Mercury is to the left of and slightly higher than Jupiter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Moon and Planets Dec 28

The sky was just clear enough tonight to see Jupiter, Mercury and the Moon in low in the West.

Jupiter is near the top of the picture. Mercury is half way down the picture and a little to the left of middle. The moon is towards the bottom of the picture, just above the cloud bank.

Tomorrow night, the moon will be above Mercury and Jupiter.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Out With a Bang

The last echoes of the Christmas Carols have barely died away here on Bonaire, when other seasonal sounds are beginning to appear.

It's fireworks season on Bonaire. New Years Eve is a big blowout in more ways than one. To help get in the spirit of things, I've posted a video clip of the monster firecracker string (tapeit) from the Napa / Budget Marine parking lot on New Years Eve of last year.

I had problems uploading it here, so it is on YouTube.

Planetary Parade Coming

Yesterday evening, Sandra and I were stuffing ourselves at the Christmas Buffet at the Divi Flamingo hotel. This sumptuous buffet is fast becoming a tradition for us here on Bonaire.

We watched the evening sky darken as we sat there at our waterside table. Venus was high in the sky and very bright. Jupiter was lower and quite bright, and then... yes there was Mercury below Jupiter.

I was surprised how far Mercury was from Jupiter because those two planets are going to be putting on quite a show, beginning Sunday evening. On Dec. 28th, Jupiter and Mercury will be much closer together, and a teeny tiny moon sliver will be below them. On the 29th, the moon sliver will be to Mercury and Jupiter's upper left.

THEN, on the evening of the 31st, when everyone on Bonaire will be outside shooting off fireworks, Jupiter and Mercury will be at their closest point, and the Moon will be stationed right by Venus.

Any of these groupings would be great to see, and I'll attempt to photograph them as well. We're sure hoping for clear skies on the 28th and 31st.

I fired up my ancient astronomy charting software, Skyglobe, today and checked out what we had seen last night. I learned that 22 minutes after sunset on Christmas night, Mercury was 11 degrees above the horizon, Jupiter 17.5, and Venus 40.

On the 28th, when the Moon joins the picture, at 22 min. after sunset:
the Moon will be 9.4 degrees up, Mercury 12.7, Jupiter 15.8, and Venus will be 40.5 degrees up.

By way of comparison, for those brave enough to be outside 22 min. after sunset in northern New Jersey:
the Moon will be 6 degrees above the horizon, Mercury 8.7, Jupiter 12.1 and Venus 29.3. So spotting the Moon and planet grouping could prove to be more of a challenge up North than it will be for us in the Tropics.

But if I were up there in the frozen North, I'd still pop outside on the evenings of the 28th, 29th, and 31st, just to see what I could see.
You can see nice illustrations of what the planet and moon groupings will look like online here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Cheer

As someone who grew up as a fan of a recording of the barking dogs performing "Jingle Bells" I guess I was bound to fall for this rendition of Jingle Bells by 49 microwave ovens.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Programs

We've got loads of Christmas music on the FM station here on Bonaire. In fact, we've got a 50 minute cantata playing without interruption right now while I rebuild the music hard drive on the FM play-out computer. We've got umpteen copies of our audio library stored all over the place, so we can quickly recover from most computer glitches. The Sunday School youth and kids were involved in the church service on Sunday. They did a great job and some of them were even more angelic than usual!
We're also having a Christmas Eve candlelight service in the High School auditorium on Wednesday evening at 7pm. If you are on Bonaire, we'd love to have you join us.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fun Foods

We returned to Bonaire just in time to enjoy the fun local holiday foods, which run mostly to spicy cookies in my case. Our son, Richard, has found a place on the Internet where he can order them from his home in NJ.

We just zip down to Cultimara and stock up. Yum!

Anyway, it's a good thing that we're enjoying these Christmas treats so much, (I'm munching on some Kruidnoten as I type this) because it means that we won't be missing the delicacies that we had to leave behind in N. America, such as the ones pictured here!

You may need to click on the picture to get the full effect.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Yacht Fire Pix

For anyone who is interested, I put a bunch more pictures of the recent yacht fire on my Winkflash page.

TWR India Celebrates 30 years

From the TWR E-Snapshots comes this story.

The year 2008 marks the 30-year milestone for TWR-India, Trans World Radio’s partner ministry in the spiritually needy subcontinent. TWR’s fruitful ministry in India comprises church planting, evangelism and discipleship. The ministry in India began in five languages in 1978 from a single AM radio station with one 400,000-kilowatt transmitter. Thirty years later, in thankfulness to God, we rejoice that TWR-India broadcasts from various locations in 56 languages over AM, shortwave, FM, podcasting, television audio feed and Internet audio streaming. Some 383 programs are broadcast for 148 hours per week. On average, TWR-India receives approximately 20,000 listener responses per month.

Vinita Shaw, CEO of TWR-India, says, “In the last 30 years of broadcasting to the Indian subcontinent and the 20 years that I have had the privilege of being part of, there is one thing that has always stood out as TWR-India continues to broadcast the Good News. There is something that has been a part of every letter received, every phone call made or every visit made to our follow-up offices … Hope is what keeps them going … And this hope in the Lord Jesus Christ is living hope …”

Please pray that God will continue to move in TWR-India’s powerful life-changing ministry. Visit TWR India’s Web site at

TWR Website Updated for December

The monthly feature on the Trans World Radio web site for December is Christmas traditions around the world. Perevious month's feature storys are still available, as it streaming audio, video clips and other goodies.

Low Fares to Bonaire from Continental

The Bonaire Insider reports that the Continental Airlines website has some pretty attractive fares to Bonaire, from Houston and Newark.
Check it out here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ISS Puts on a Show

The International Space Station has made some great passes through the early evening sky here on Bonaire this week. On Thursday night, it appeared to pass right through the planet Venus.

I receive alert emails about ISS passes, as well as other astronomy events, from Arnold Barmettler's excellent CalSky Web site. The alert for this week mentioned a close approach to Venus. I then used a neat program by Ed Morena to find out where on Bonaire I needed to be stationed to see the ISS cross over Venus, as opposed to pass near by Venus.

I've also used Ed's Transit Prediction program to successfully station myself to watch the ISS pass across the moon. The ISS may pass across Saturn as seen from Bonaire, on Dec. 17. It will be a pre-dawn event, so I may or may not get up in time to see it. Stay tuned.... ha-ha

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pedrito el Pulpo on the Road

Our Trans World Radio partner in Venezuela has finished up the year with Pedrito el Pulpo rallies in Barinas and Maracaibo. The Pedrito el Pulpo radio program is broadcast from here on Bonaire. It's also heard on 38 stations in Venezuela and 53 stations in Bolivia. There is also a Pedrito web site, and then the team from the Radio Trans Mundial office in Maracai travels all over Venezuela to hold Pedrito rallies such as those pictured here.
You can just get a glimpse of Pedrito peaking out over the shoulder of one of the leaders in the photo below.
Each kid receives a packet with a few "goodies." These rallies in Barinas and Maracaibo were in jeopardy because the team didn't have the funds to prepare the handout packs for the kids. One of Sandra and my New Jersey churches came through with a missions project offering which ensured that the Maracaibo event would happen. The TWR - Bonaire staff helped purchase the supplies for the Barianas kids. The team's travel expenses were picked up by the schools that they visited.

A boy at one of the schools visited this year prayed, "I am happy that Peter is at my school, please ensure that the doors of this school are always open for them, Amen." Actually he said, "Estoy contento que Pedrito este en me escuela, por favor has que las puertas de esta escuela esten siempre abiertas para ellos, Amen."

There are more pictures from Maracaibo and Barinas on my Winkflash photo site.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Yacht Fire

I happened to look outside this morning and saw a big plume of black smoke, which I just had to investigate. It turned out to be one of the many yachts moored along the Playa Pabou waterfront. I don't know the name of the yacht. The back end was all charred and the mast had toppled by the time I got there. A fire truck arrived shortly after I got there. They tried pumping water on the yacht from the shore but just couldn't quite reach it.
A tugboat had some success in spraying water on the burning yacht, but wind shifts kept blowing the (probably toxic) smoke back onto the tug, and they eventually had to abandon their efforts.

Eventually some Marine Park rangers towed the yacht out to deep water, where it continued to burn. I'm not sure if it eventually sank or what. I had to get back to work.

There were two cruise ships in port today, each with something like 3000 passengers.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Back on Bonaire - moon and planets

We're back on Bonaire, after ten weeks of travel and reporting back to our ministry sponsors. It sure is wet and green here. There seems to be a good crop of mosquitoes, but our trusty "Cactus Juice" repellent is keeping them at bay.

The Moon, Jupiter, and Venus made a small triangle in the western sky tonight. It was striking to look at, but I don't think any of my photos came out due to a high haze in the sky.

Here is a picture I took last night, when the Moon was lower than the planets. The moon was above the planets tonight and much closer to them than last night.