Friday, February 27, 2009

Moon and Venus

The Moon and Venus were really close in the evening sky tonight. It was kind of cloudy and hazy but they still looked great. Venus is showing a crescent shape, just like the moon, but you might not be able to see that now that I've shrunk the picture for posting online.
Comet Lulin is right next to the star Regulus tonight. It is significantly dimmer than it was on Monday, but still pretty easy to spot in binoculars.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Comet Lulin Update

We saw comet Lulin Monday night, when it was a tiny bit to the upper right of the planet Saturn. That was cool, although Saturn just looked like a blob in the binoculars. We could just barely see Lulin with our naked eye from our back yard, which is in an area with fairly high ambient light. We could see the comet's antitail in our binoculars.

Here is a web page from sky and telescope with more information about the comet and a handy dandy finder chart. The comet is pretty easy to spot in binoculars, once you know where to look, so give it a try this week before the moon gets bright.

Andrea 2

On Monday, we went snorkeling at Andrea 2 for the first time since we returned to Bonaire in Dec. and for the first time since Hurricane Omar. Wow, Omar really scraped the bottom clean between the shore and the drop off. It's mostly white sand. There were still lots of fish to be seen, and the coral looked good down over the dropoff. We always see squid at Andrea 2.
This Gorgonian looked good, but I think it was the only one in the whole Andrea 1 / Andrea 2 snorkeling area.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Comet Lulin (finally) Observed

We saw Comet Lulin for the first time Saturday night. It was super easy to spot in binoculars and I could just detect it with my naked eye from our back yard. It would have been easier to spot if we had gone to a darker location on the island, but it was too cloudy to make the outing worthwhile. That and a strong self preservation instinct that tends to keep me off the roads as much as possible during Carnival season.

We didn't see the comet's tail when we observed it visually, but I was able to tease it out of the sky background in the picture. What you see pointing down is apparently the dust antitail, which is brighter than the true tail right now. The star to the upper left of the comet is Beta Virgo. By tonight, the comet will be well to the upper right of Beta. You can click on the picture to see it bigger.

This picture is a stack of 10 six second exposures, snapped between clouds, with the camera on a tripod, and combined with DeepSkyStacker. If the clouds ever go away, I'll set up a telescope and try and get a proper time exposure. The comet is moving quite quickly, for a comet, and will be quite near Saturn on Monday night. (Bonaire time)

Moon and Planets

Well I had thought that I'd be on my bike at 6am today, but the walk/bike event to support Jong Bonaire is next week. This week is Carnival weekend. duh It was just clear enough this morning to spot the Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars (in order of appearance from upper right to lower left) lined up in the sky. The picture above is one of the first ones I took, when the sky was still pretty dark and Mars was just barely visible to the naked eye. There are a few stars visible as well.
Then the clouds moved in and it was a good while 'till I got some more chances to take pictures. I needed binoculars to spot Mars by this time, but it can still be seen in the above photo.
The Moon will be to the lower left of Mars tomorrow morning, as depicted in this illustration at Sky and Telescope. I'm hoping the clouds will let me get a picture Monday am, but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Moon and Planets

It has been amazingly cloudy and rainy here lately. But it might be clearing up just in time for a great show in the morning sky.

I went out this morning about a half hour before sunrise and saw Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury making a nice line in the sky. The moon was to the upper right of this planetary parade, but it will be joining the fun Saturday am and especially Sunday am. Sky and Telescope has a nice chart showing what to expect Sat. and Sun.

I snapped a picture of the planets this morning. I needed binoculars to spot Mars. I've brightened Mars in this picture so that it is easier to spot. So although Mars looks as bright as Mercury in this image, it wasn't like that in the sky. You'll need to click on the picture to see it big enough to spot the planets.

I plan to be on my bike at 6am on Sunday, participating in the Walk/Bike event to benefit Jong Bonaire, but I think I'll bring my camera along so I can get a picture or two of the moon and planet show if the weather cooperates.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Google Earth

I'm a big fan of Google Earth. It is a great way to explore Bonaire from the comfort of one's living room, or to get a birds eye view of one's recent expedition.

We also consulted GE on an almost daily basis last fall when we were driving all over the east coast of the USA giving presentations for Trans World Radio.

I recently came across this short but interesting article from Popular Photography that sheds a little light on how they get those great images.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Showers - Flowers

We've had a unusual amount of rain lately and the trees and bushes are bursting into bloom all over the place. These leaves seem to start green and then turn reddish. The flowers are cool too.
The vines with the purple flowers are all over this year.

These bushes are all over the trails this year too. We could hears bees buzzing in the background.

Showers - Flowers II

Here are some more wild flowers we saw over the weekend. These flowers seem to start out light orange and then turn reddish orange.
Sandra likes these rose like flowers on the cotton trees.

The Cossie trees are about ready to explode with little orange puffs.

The Brazil trees are what got me started on the flowers. They are bursting with color all over the place in the northern hills.

These bushes / trees grow like crazy and could be a problem, but the flowers are nice.

Liquid Sunshine ha-ha

It was really rainy today. We've been having lots of on and off rain for a while now, but this morning, the skies were completely grey and the rain came down quite hard at times. When Donna came to work this morning, her handy dandy rain gauge was registering .7 inches. By the middle of the afternoon, it was at almost three inches!
There were lots of "puddles" that completely covered the roads. Sandra decided to wash the dogs this morning, since they were soaking wet anyway. We have both hot and cold water at one outside faucet, by the outside shower. The dogs loved getting hosed down with warm water.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I'm not riding today. It's kids Carnival Sunday on Bonaire and I'm concerned that there might be tipsy drivers out there on the road. So we're at home watching the WRC race from Norway on TV. They're going over 100mph on narrow icy forest roads, amazing. Above is a group of people from a cruise ship on a bike tour from town to Dos Pos. That distance is probably a challenge for many, but the scenery is about as good as it gets and definitely worth the effort.
Cycling is the best way to see Washington Park. It's faster than hiking, but you see a lot more than when you are driving. You can rent bikes right at the park entrance.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Check out the Pelican shadows on the beach at Slac Bai. I looked up and there were 15 to 18 of them floating around up there.
They were passing by right over my head. Made me wish I had something longer than a 24mm lens on the camera so i could get a nice close up. But I like this wide shot.

Slac Bai Cannon

I first snorkeled at Slac Bai either during the summer of 1975 or 1976. I can still remember cruising around way out in the middle of the bay and seeing an amazing array of canons lying in the sand on the bottom. We were really excited until we dove down and noticed that the underside of the canons was flat. They were fake canons. I later learned that they had been props for a movie called, "Sharks Treasure," filmed on Bonaire in 1974. However there are indeed two real canon in shallow water along the south wall of the bay at Slac Bai. It is said that my next door neighbor, Ralph Nolen, discovered them in 1981.
I love the way this one looks like it is growning out of the coral. It sort of reminds me of some members of Davy Jones' crew on the Flying Dutchman, in "Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Washington Park Photos

Here are some more Washington Park pictures from our visit a week or so ago. The air was clear and the bushes were green. That makes for great photos, but is not necessarily how things look most of the year. :) I've kept the thumbnails extra small for those of you who have slower Internet connections. You can see the pix bigger by clicking on them. I've often attempted to image the "roller coaster hills" that are encountered just after Juwa Pass on the way out from Slac Bai. They usually don't look very hilly in the images, but this one gets the feel I think.
A whole flock of pelicans was hanging out at Slac Bai. I first noticed them by their shadows on the beach. I think I have a picture of that, but I'll have to do some digging on the hard drive before I can post it.

I've also often taken pictures of the stark trees of Bonaire. They usually don't come out well in the images, but this one has the feel that I wanted to capture. Can you find the teeny tiny moon in this image, shot with a 24mm lens.

The moon is in this nice green Bonaire landscape as well. Maybe I should shoot the exact same scene in the summer to capture the rainy season and dry season differences.

Erwin Muller

If you've a Bonaire old timer, you'll surely remember Erwin Muller. I first met him at the old Hotel Bonaire, across the street from the TWR offices and studios. Among other things, Erwin was the first one here to learn how to sail the original Windsurfer. Those big heavy boards with their ungainly teak booms and triangular sails didn't make much of an impression on me at the time, as I was caught up with catamaran sailing. But Erwin impressed me with his persistence as he fell in the water again and again, and climbed back on the board again and again. With time, he more than mastered the craft and became a local windsurfing legend. Since then, Erwin has always been around the water, both in the diving and fishing businesses.

Erwin's wife, Ellen, is a world class underwater photographer. Son Jason, one of our son Richard's favorite fishing buddies when they were kids (because Jason had a boat!) has made a successful career of that childhood passion. Sandra's cousin, Bud, always looks up Erwin and Ellen, when he visits Bonaire, to find out what has been happening on and under the water. Bud really values their insights.

I was shocked a few weeks ago, to hear that Erwin, at age 48, had suffered from a stroke and had been flown to Curacao. This week's Bonaire Reporter has an update on Erwin on page 3. (That's the Feb. 13 edition, if you are reading this much later.)

Family and friends have rallied in support of Erwin. Long time friend, Linda Baker, has set up a blog so we can track his recovery. For those who might desire to help Erwin and Ellen with their financial challenges of his illness, friends have set up a Maduro Bank account and a PayPal site for donations.

Erwin's 49th birthday is coming up on March 1. If you'd like to encourage him with a card, his address is: Erwin Muller, c/o Fundashon Mrg. P. I. Verriet, Salsbachweg 20, Santa Maria, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, Dutch Caribbean. Better do it quickly since mail from North America, for example, takes a couple weeks to get here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

7th annual Special Olympics Walk/Ride

This past Sunday I participated in the 7th annual Walk a Thon to benefit Bonaire's special Olympics team. I hadn't done it in previous years, because of my usual Sunday morning church responsibilities. But this time around, I figured that because the event starts at 5am, I should be able to ride my bike from White Slave to Rincon and still get back home in time to shower and be at the High School at 8am to set up the sound system for the 9am church service there.

It was amazing to be part of hundreds and hundreds of walkers and riders swarming down the road past pink beach in the almost full moonlight at 5am. The organizers had a surprise for us bike riders. Instead of our riding the 30km route that the walkers always take, they laid out a 42km route that had us all over Bonaire. We actually rode 48km according to my GPS because we went all the way to Bopec, Goto Lake, and Dos Pos, instead of riding up the long hill at Karpata.

I also cycled out to White Slave before the start and then rode home really hard from Rincon in order to get to the church on time. I estimate I got in 72km (45miles) by 8am, which is probably a record for me.

If you email me I can send you an 18KB kml file that you can open in Google Earth and see exactly where we rode Sunday am. By the way, Google Earth seems to have added a new hi rez section to the map right at the south tip of Bonaire, where it used to be lo rez. Now all of Bonaire is hi rez except for a small part in the north east.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Slac Bai

We went to Washington Park with our friend, Bill, this week. I took loads of photos, some of which I'll be posting over the next week or so.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

TWR Cuba Programming Update

In the first three weeks of broadcasting "Messages of Faith and Hope" to Cuba, Alberto Gonzales, director of RTM-Cuba, reports the following:

20 emails. Among them one of haití from a Cuban doctor, and another of a listener in Venezuela. The emails come from the provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Manzanillo, Holguín, Camaguey, Sancti Spíritus, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara y Matanzas.

4 letters to the address in Havana that we offer. These come from Placetas, Matanzas, Villa Clara and Cifuentes, VC.

telephone calls: Although we don't offer a telephone number in the program, I have received several calls of friends that know me and they call me from Yaguajay, Sancti Spíritus, Santa Clara, Guanabacoa en Ciudad de La Habana.

A Baptist Pastor in Madruga, Province of Havana reports that there is a group of listeners in his town. The same thing in Guines, another city in the Province of Havana.

I received yesterday a letter from a very excited person when he/she heard the first day the program. The letter delayed 17 days in arriving.

We praise God for the impact of our broadcasts in Cuba.
P.S. "RTM - Radio Trans Mundial" is the Spanish version of "TWR - Trans World Radio"

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Science Lectures Last Night

I enjoyed two interesting lectures Monday night, at the new CIEE facility across the street from the old CIEE place on Kaya GN Debrot. We used to be packed in like sardines in the old building, but the new one is really airy and spacious. The first lecture was about the factors and forces that shaped Bonaire's coastline in the recent geologic past. The discussion of core samples from the saliñas was particularly interesting.
The second lecture was about a project to get a baseline of the water conditions in the many saliñas in the Washington Park area. One highlight was the team's innovative deployment of numbers of relatively inexpensive commercial sensors, which they then calibrated with a high precision scientific grade instrument.

Monday, February 02, 2009

What's wrong with these Pictures

These pictures were shot on Bonaire yesterday, Feb. 01. Hint... Donna has measured over two and a half inches of rain in the last week up in Republik.

Off Road

I do most of my bike riding on dirt roads and trails that are off the beaten path so to speak. This pickup gives "off road" a different meaning. This is not the first time that a vehicle has gone off the road at this corner. I've sometimes thought that all those concrete posts were overkill, but it looks like they probably kept the pickup from entering someone's living room.
When I see something like this, I'm very thankful that I didn't happen to be riding my bike along that piece of road at that particular time.