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.