Friday, December 23, 2016

Desert Island?

Well, we did have a couple dry years recently and really enjoyed not having to do trail maintenance on our favorite cycling routes.

But 2016 has been another story. It has been rainy for a couple months now, and the flora is flourishing, as this shot of Bernard inspecting the back yard of one of the TWR houses in Hato shows.

The satellite antenna paddock behind the Offices is getting to look like this too. Good thing TWR has a DR Trimmer Mower!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Stars, Moons 'n Meteors

Our automaton system at TWR has been having trouble switching between the the Brazilsat Portuguese feed and the local TWR Bonaire Spanish programming. So I've been setting my alarm for 3am and 5am each day (night?) and turning on a radio to check up on it. This morning, it switched to Portuguese ok at 3am, but failed to switch back to Spanish at 5am. So I hopped in the car and triggered the changeover from the shortcut on the computer screen in the automation room. Its at times like this that I'm glad I live less than a mile from the office! 
Once I got home I checked out the skies. We've had lots of clouds and rain this month, but I could actually see some stars this morning. The almost full moon, Orion and Sirius were low in the West. The Big Dipper, Arcturus and Spica, with a super brilliant Jupiter nearby, were well placed in the East.  AND, the Southern Cross was visible in the South. Made it worth getting up early.
By the way, tonight is the final one of three Super Moons. Here on Bonaire, the Moon will rise at 6:09pm and the Sun will set at one minute later at 6:10. I hope the sky will be clear so we can see it. The Moon will be exactly full at 8:05pm, Bonaire time.
And, last but not least, the Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight. The full moon will interfere with meteor gazing, but the Geminids are often super slow and bright, so it just might be worth taking a look after 22:00 or so, even with the full Moon hanging out near Gemini.

Monday, December 12, 2016

From Bonaire to Swaziland

The maintenance team at TWR Bonaire has many years of experience maintaining and rigging radio towers in a tough windy and salty climate. They work with a team of 5 people who work together very well.

Benny Saragoza is one of them. He is a local Bonairian, a tower rigger (climber) who loves the Lord and loves working for TWR. In November, 2016 he traveled to TWR Swaziland to train the team over there.

Benny: ‘two years ago, Tim M. asked me to go to Swaziland. At that time, we were too busy with our own Power Upgrade project. But this November I had time. The trip from Bonaire to Swaziland was very long. When I arrived in Africa it was like a new world.

I met the guys over there. The idea was that I 
would teach the local guys how to do the job of working and maintaining the towers by themselves. With the training, I started at the beginning. The first week I taught a lot about tools. For example, I showed them how to work with a come-a-long. A come-a-long is a hand-operated winch with a ratchet to pull tension on the tower guy wires. I also taught them how to use a transit. This is a tool that allows us to see if the tower is straight and using it allows us to bring back the tower back into the right positions.

The next week we started practicing in teams. Because of bad weather two years ago, all the towers were not standing straight. So, we had to adjust the towers, working together. We used the tools. I encouraged the local men to ask a lot of questions. And later in the week after devotions, I said to the guys: ‘You are doing the job. I backed off and they did the work very well!’ We straightened most of the antennas. Now they can finish by themselves and maintain the towers.

Everywhere I went in Swaziland I saw people listening to small radios. When I asked them, “what channel are you listening to”, they said TWR Swaziland! So, that’s why this work is important. If something happens to the feedline, TWR will stay off the air for a long period. They need to keep going.

I feel very happy I can teach other people and help the gospel being broadcasted on our Island Bonaire, the Caribbean, Latin America and the whole world!’

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

TWR360 Update

Many of the radio programs that we have on the air here at TWR Bonaire can also be found online at TWR360.  There is now audio and video content in 47 languages, and from 150 ministries and churches.

New apps for Android and iOS have been released which are faster and easier to use.  In October, we saw a 295% increase in new users connecting to TWR360 with the apps.

In October, there were 867,424 visitors to TWR360, from 227 countries and territories. This is a new record.   Brazil continues to lead the way in visits to TWR360 using Web browsers, followed by India and the Indonesia.  The USA was the country with the most visits using the Android and iOS apps, followed by Myanmar and India.

The page with the most visits is called "The Story."  The most watched video clip was "TWR360 personal Impact 2015."

Be sure to check out TWR360.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

More from SuperMoon Monday

Here are a couple more pictures from SuperMoon Monday. That has a nice ring to it, kind of like Superbowl Sunday.

This shot of the moon is through a 2000mm focal length telescope in our back yard in Hato.
The moon was full at 9:51 in the morning.  I shot this at 9:39 in the evening, so it was about 12 hours past full, and you can tell if you look closely at the top edge of the moon.
Due to a broken cigarette lighter adapter, Sandra had to manually hold wires onto a 12v battery so that the motor drive would track the moon while i tripped the shutter. 

This shot of the sunset and slave huts is an HDR image made from three exposures; one underexposed to get the clouds, one "normal" exposure, and one overexposed shot to get the front side of the huts, which were jet black in the first two shots.
Our eyes can see a much broader range of brightness than a camera can capture, so the HDR technique approximates what we were seeing that evening.  The foreground probably looked a little bit brighter to our eyes that evening.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

SuperMoon Shots

Here are a couple supermoon photos from Red Slave on Bonaire, using my trusty Powershot SX50 HS mounted on a video tripod for stability

The skies were quite clear in between the clouds. We saw the moon right by the horizon, and yes, it really was that orange. Then it disappeared behind a cloud for a while.

We stood around and swatted millions of mosquitoes until the moon came back out.

Once we got back home, I also shot a few images through the 8" Meade LX50 telescope. Sometime in the future, when we have a super-small moon, I'll image that as well, and then compare the sizes.  If the telescope picture looks good, I'll post it soon.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Lightning Timelapse

 The Milky Way time-lapse I shot on Halloween and posted the other day had some really active thunderstorm clouds on the horizon.  I cropped the frames so I could see the lightning activity better and made another time-lapse clip.  If i had realized how cool the clouds were, i would have kept shooting pictures longer.  There is a double "explosion" of sorts going on to the right of mid-frame when the sequence stops.  Watch the 1080p version full screen if you can.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Day to Night Timelapse from Oct 31

I like this one from Monday better than the one from last Saturday.  I think the sky was clearer.  Also, the thunderstorm clouds down by the horizon are amazing.  Venus is still the bright object at the right side of the frame.  This clip is on YouTube but I've embedded it here.  Watch it full screen at 1080p if you can.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Milky Way Timelapse

I just uploaded a 30 second clip to YouTube made from 700+ images I shot at the TWR transmitter site on Saturday evening.  Looking southwest past the towers of TWR on Bonaire.  The bright blob at the right is Venus.  The smaller blob to Venus' upper right is Saturn.  The bright star to Venus' lower right is Antares.  At the same time that Venus disappears at the bottom of the frame, Mars comes into view at the top middle and passes right by the top of the right-most tower.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Driveway Astronomy

I've been experimenting with controlling my camera using my Android tablet. I've tried it a few nights but It hasn't been working like it is supposed to. BUT, I think I've finally figured it out.

I set up in our driveway and kept changing things around until I stumbled on the cause of  the problem, I think. I'll head out to a dark site first chance I get and see if I'm good to go. I shot about 500 exposures tonight as i was experimenting with different settings, but will throw most all of them out.

Here is a stack of the last ten images from the driveway tonight. Each of them is a six second long exposure, so the result is sort of like as if I had kept the shutter open for a minute, but without the stars becoming blurred by the earth's rotation. What amazes me is that we couldn't see the Milky Way at all with the naked eye here in Hato, but the camera picked it out quite nicely.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

View from an Antenna Tower

"We" recently finished upgrading the ends of all the guy wires on our four antenna towers.  Here is a picture of the corona rings and insulator that they installed on each guy wire, 48 in all.

Below is a view of one of the cool double reef dive sites, as seen from one of the towers.  Interestingly enough, I recently noticed that one can detect the double reef structure in the satellite images on Google Earth!

Here is a view looking towards the Cargil solar salt pans and the ship loading pier.  There is a ship at the pier, which can provide a sense of scale.

Here is the view looking back towards town. 

A big thank you to Bob, pictured here, for the photos.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Regatta Week

Today is the Friday of the 49th annual Regatta Week here on Bonaire. It is a holiday for TWR, the schools, and apparently lots of other people. Check out all the cars in these two panoramas shot from the roof of the TWR offices.   You can see them larger if you click on one of them.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Storm Update - Friday Morning

It looks like the winds are starting to get back to normal. We had maybe a half inch of rain last night and winds that were not very strong by Bonaire standards. And the surf on the west side wasn’t too heavy either.

One of our staff was watching the infrared satellite images and saw a giant red blob bearing down on Bonaire. About 30 miles to the East of us, it just sort of shriveled up and dissipated. Curacao got a foot of rain over the course of a few hours last night so the storm was busy doing its thing, but Bonaire was spared.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Storm is North of Bonaire

The satellite image shows that the storm is pretty much north of Bonaire right now.  The sat image is from 16:30 and the picture I took from the roof of the office was shot around 17:15.  The rains and winds are expected tomorrow from the trailing edge of the storm.

More Volunteers in Action

Here are a few more shots of our current crop of volunteers in action.

Reverse Wind

We've been watching tropical storm Matthew.  As I write this, it is still to the northeast of Bonaire.  The trade winds here have stopped and there is a breeze coming from the west.

This shot is looking north from the back door of the TWR office.  The flag is flapping in the "wrong" direction.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September Projects

We have a team here working on the antenna towers and another team from Syracuse, NY helping with a couple other projects.  There are a couple of new couples here as volunteers too.  I'll post about them some time soon.
Here are some shots of the recent activity.  More pictures to come in the near future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Star Party

We have a bunch of volunteers here at TWR right now helping with a variety of projects.  We all went out to the transmitter site parking lot Saturday night to look at Saturn, Mars and a bunch of clusters, nebulae and even the Andromeda galaxy, through the Meade LX50, as well as my 20x80 binoculars.

The sky was quite clear and the stars looked great.  I set up a camera at the back of the property, and it shot some 780 images while we were in front doing our thing.  Here is a time lapse view of the milky way moving past the TWR towers during the 2+ hours that we were out there.  This video still needs some more work on the colors, but it is still fun to see the stars move across the scene.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tower Work Update

Work continues on the four TWR Bonaire antenna towers.  The halfway point has been passed now, with the 24 guy wires on two of the four towers upgraded and reinstalled. 

Thank you to the guys for their hard work and to the Lord for His protection.

Thanks go to Carol VanDyken for the photo.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

South End Sunset

Before heading to the Willemstoren lighthouse yesterday evening for the Moon Shadow experiment, i stopped off by the salt piles and at Red Slave to see what sort of sunset colors there might be.  It turned out to be too hazy for a green flash, but too clear for awesome colors.

I shot the salt piles because there is so much salt right now.  We're starting to have a fairly normal fall rainy season this year, but the two years up 'till now were quite dry, even for Bonaire.  It looks like it was good for sea salt production!

I drove on south to Red Slave.  We shot the setting sun through a hut window back a while ago.  Here is a fishing boat framed by a hut.

Moon Shadow

Yes, I'm old enough to remember that Cat Stevens tune!

Bud Gillan and I hung out at the Willemstoren Lighthouse for a few hours last night.  The moonrise was awesome.  Then we waited for the moon to get bright enough to cast a shadow.  This lighthouse shaped shadow got noticeably shorter as the moon rose higher.

Here are a couple pictures of the shadow at different stages, and hopefully, a time-lapse video of the shrinking shadow.  The moon got both brighter and whiter as it rose in the East.  The view is looking West towards Red Slave. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Bonaire Lighthouses

Here are a couple lighthouse pictures from August.

The first is made from a bunch of 5 second exposures at the Willemstoren lighthouse.

You can see that haze was building during the time between when I shot the frames on the left side of the picture and when I shot the frames on the right side of the picture.

The second image is of the Lighthouse and Lighthouse keeper's house at Spelonk.  It is a combination of frames shot both at Spelonk and at Red Slave.

By the way, today, Sept. 14 is astrophotography day at  There are free streaming lessons all day and they repeat throughout the whole night.

Antenna Tower Work

Jim and Connie Hulse, and two others from Towers for Jesus, are here on Bonaire for a few weeks.  The are upgrading the guy wires on out towers with new corona rings and insulators.

Pictures are Bob (upper left) from Towers for Jesus and Lionel (lower right) from TWR Bonaire up on a tower.  You can see the new components on the ends of the guy wires.

Cloudy Skies

It has been generally cloudy for the last week or so.  And not the usual fluffy fast moving Bonaire clouds, but big heavy duty rain and thunder type clouds.  Like the ones I saw at noon today.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Moon occults Venus Friday

If you are here on Bonaire, the Moon might occult Venus tonight from 7pm to 7:30.

According to the "Stellarium" software on my laptop, the dark side of the teeny tiny crescent moon will pass right in front of Venus tonight, beginning around 7pm. Looks like Venus will be completely hidden by 7:30pm.

If the skies are clear tonight, be sure to check it out, especially if you have binoculars.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Planet Update, September 1

1.  Be sure to look low in the West right after sunset on Friday to try to spot a teeny tiny crescent moon near Venus and Jupiter.

2.  Higher in the sky, Mars has continued to zoom to the left (East,) leaving Antares and Saturn behind. Tonight, they are supposed to form a perfect Isosceles triangle.  You can compare the planet's positions in this shot with ones I posted last week.

The picture below is a test panorama made up of nine shots. The final image will be made up from 42 shots, and I'll be able to print it poster size. It probably won't look much different here on the Internet through. There was a surprising amount of haze down low in the sky that night, so I'll always be hoping for clearer skies.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Venus and Jupiter Conjunction

We could see both Venus and Jupiter tonight with the naked eye, but they are quite close together. The photo on the right shows about how the planets looked visually from our back yard.

The bottom photo is through a telescope. Venus is to the upper right in both photos and Jupiter is to the lower left.

Jupiter's four main moons are lined up nicely to the upper left of Jupiter. The one waaaay to the upper left of Jupiter is Callisto. Europa (L) and Ganymede (R) are side by side much closer to Jupiter. And last but not least, Io is the one closest to Jupiter.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Planet Parade This Weekend

Venus and Jupiter are getting close together in the evening sky. Check them out Friday evening a little after sunset. Look again Saturday evening and try to see if you can spot both planets without the aid of binoculars! They should be super close together on Saturday evening.

This picture is a screen shot from Stellarium software and shows what you should see in the west on Friday evening shortly after sunset.

The picture below is the Scorpius region of the sky as seen from Spelonk last night. Mars has noticeably moved more to the left of that imaginary line between Antares and Saturn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mars Moved, Whoo Whoo!

Mars moved between last night and tonight!   Last night, Mars was just to the right of an imaginary line drawn between Antares and Saturn. Tonight Mars is just to the left of said imaginary line.

The shot to the right is from last night's session at Coco Beach (where Hotel Bonaire used to be.)

The shot below is from tonight, as seen from our back yard in Hato.

You'll probably need to look at the larger versions to see my labels.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mars and Saturn in Scorpius

Mars and Saturn are close together near the head of Scorpius.

Antares, Mars, and Saturn made an almost straight line tonight, and will do so again tomorrow night.

Here is a shot from the beach across the street from the TWR offices, by the traffic circle in Hato.

Venus, Mercury and Jupiter

Venus, Mercury and Jupiter are pretty close together in the evening sky right now.

Venus is to the lower right. Jupiter is in the middle, and Mercury is to the left.

On Saturday, Aug. 27, Venus and Jupiter might be so close together that you'll need binoculars to tell them apart. That sounds like fun. I hope we have clear skies.