Sunday 27 November 2016

Sunday Morning sunrise

Fresh snow, still not Lucy-ripe, but getting there. Certainly not going to stay at plus 3C. Still - yes also still. Still, it is a pleasant sight. Refresher course on past memories:


And a total to join them:

And some details - about snow! I must be out of my ???? - ?

Sigh --- W O B

Saturday 26 November 2016

4 Hours after reflecting

Just a couple of before/after shots, taken almost exactly 4 hours apart.

Slight shifts to emphasize either the reflections or the clouds.

Friday 25 November 2016

Nothing common about "Common"

I felt I could not end today, so-called "Black Friday", on a possibly misinterpreted low note - I sought out the dramatic lighting this morning to make a contrasting statement to the previous couple of entries. Not because I was sad or suffering.

As a contrast to the 7 Trumpeter swans I present 2 "common" Common Mergansers in breeding plumage. I tried different ISO settings because the lighting wasn't the best and I wanted a good depth of field because I
could not depend on the auto-focus to work - flat lighting. Here are a couple of 2 different birds:

They were approx 100m from shore, just beyond the "pack" ice flows. Temp rose to 7C.


Friday Morning - what a difference a day makes: 24 little hours

P L U S 4 C!

There is however, beauty if you open your eyes - and your umbrella?


Thursday 24 November 2016

24-Hour Aurora Watch

Have been very busy, lots of memories and impressions, but no entries.

I am alive. This was my outlook yesterday morning:

Some ice has formed and the north wind has driven it against our south shore - 2 layers of "sedimentary" ice, the beginning of the next ice-age, perhaps?

Looking upward, a little:

There is "something" left of the flagpole  -

Something to trumpet about - 5 cygnets that can fly, and 2 adults who know their kids are neither in hospital nor in jail. Tom's definition of successful parents.

Nevertheless, it is a gamble in winter, life:

And look what the night brought:

No aurora.

And this morning no Trumpeter swans:

Just a dying dragonfly -

gazing out over what has been -


Tuesday 15 November 2016

A pair of Hooded Mergansers

My find of the day. While walking beside Old Brewery Bay I chanced on this colourful pair.

Wonder if they will still be around - anywhere - for someone's Christmas Bird Count?


estimating numbers

How many stars are visible at night - depend on the night and where you are on earth, how good are your eyes, what is the elevation/how much oxygen do you have - no smoking or alcohol, and, and, and. The number of stars brighter than some value is known. Still with individuals being just that the value has to be calcuable or measureable in some way. So for the Leonids coming around Nov 17 there are areas in the sky where you can count stars, refer to a table of number of stars as a function of magnitude and determine how faint you can currently see.stars and hence meteors. Your sightings can then we scaled up to what an ideal observer would/might have seen if the  radiant had been at the zenith.

So how many starling did I see? I took 2 photos and counted the birds in 1/16 of the area and scaled to the toal image - too lazy to count all and anyway I have enough trouble counting to 6 to play "Chop Sticks" - easily challenged, as it were.
So here is an estimate of 640 starlings:

And here 800:


A "murmuration" in the night!

I had cramps during the night,  likes(? !) of which I have never had before: the sides of both legs started contracting so violently I thought the flesh would be torn from my legs, thighs to calves. Jack-knifing out of bed and stretching did nothing for an agony of time - just a little shorter than an eon! OK, I am fine today. But what happened? I drank lots of water yesterday, Ate a banana and a couple of naans and a roll.

What actually lead to this was something that happened back on Mon Nov 7 when Vicki and I were informed of a sighting of Cattle Egrets. Pictures to follow. Yesterday Vicki was out morning and afternoon so I thought I would like to bike there and see if there were any still any hanging about. That became a 32Km bike-ride, about 20K too far - but on such a lovely day, every peddle was worth it. So the "murmuration" was an accidental piece of good fortune. And the egrets? None to be seen. However, I can say that the cattle were still in the field - none appeared to have jumped over the moon at either moon-rise or  -set.

Here are the Cattle Egrets from the previous week:

We did not want to disturb the cattle so we stayed on the road and took our chances on finding a sight-line.

We actually saw 4 but not easy to get them free of white legs!

I think my "murmuration this night was a small price to pay. By the way, the starlings in flight were very quiet. Only when the were in the trees were they loud. I heard them minutes before I reached an opening where I could see them. I had been looking for individual birds in trees in front of me, not a conglomeration weighing down a wind break.


Monday 14 November 2016

What Is a Murmuration?

Actually, what I wanted to write about was something I saw today for the first time and a fellow out for a walk suggested the birds might be starlings. So I searched for a flock of such and

                                         What Is a Murmuration?

seems to fit the "bill"

Each photo shows less than a third of the birds present - maybe 1000 starlings? Very noisy, even for me being deaf. Hardly what I would call a murmur - even if they were quiet while flying.
Post Script: An HD video of a murmuration in England - approx 4 miuntes long

And how does one count birds - or stars for that matter. One uses a grid.  If you are having trouble sleeping try counting starlings!



Supermoon - or what?

I thought I could get through without being noticed but I didn't quite.

So , what is the deal? It is in this case a full moon very near perigee, the point in the moon's orbit when it is closest to earth. Perturbations on the earth-moon system mean that both ellipses, the orbits, drift systematically in space so that - in this case - the full moon does not occur at the same position in its orbit from moonth to month. The earth is also moving around the sun so the position of full moon also moves, occurs 2-3 days later  as the moon must revolve further to "catch up" with the earth.sun alignment to be at full moon.

Full moon was at 8:52am this Monday morning. The distance between the centres of the earth and moon was at a minimum at 6:23am (All times Easttern Standard). So was that when you were closest to the moon/the moon appeared to be largest? Almost certainly not - depends a little on where you individuals were. For most mortals living in Ontario they were closest - the moon was largest - around midnight. By nearly 7000km. And here is why:

This diagram is from my friend Daniel Fischer writing for Sky and Telescope
where you can get more insight. (Daniel got me involved in the ESA-Rosetta Mission back in February 2004.)

For a better understanding of the role being played by the elliptical orbit I refer you to another excellent article in Sky&Telescope
(I have been subscribing to Sky&Telescope since the early-mid 1950s.)

I still had Halloween on the brain Saturday evening when I took these photos:

Scary? Lunatic? Lover of the (unpolluted) night sky? Astronomer? Interested?

Actually, here is another link from the Canadian "Sky News"