Friday, November 30, 2001

Now Down to Two

A sad day today. Word has come this morning of the death of George Harrison yesterday (November 29, 2001). With the death of John Lennon December 8, 1980, this leaves only Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The music is a little quieter today.

Now playing on the stereo: The Beatles - 1

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Coming Down from the High

Whew! Yawn! Am kind of tired and worn out right now.

I was up until 2 am putting my aurora shots on the website (check them out if you haven't - or actually want to), and then I had to get up early in the morning. Dawn Patrol early.

Up to work to put in a schedule request, then down to Corporate Color to pick up my slides. They turned out great, and they are now mounting them. The guys there thought the photos rocked, and mentioned they saw them on the television the night before.

Then... to GRCC (that's Grand Rapids Community College for you out-of-towners) to show the photos to Will (astronomy prof there). He took the digital versions off the website for his class PowerPoint presentation.

Then... out to the Post Office annex to mail the club's newsletter for the month. Since they know me out there, they wanted to see the photos.

I want to go back to bed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

It's Red All Over!!!

Last night, the sky was on fire.

Last night was one of the top ten aurora displays that I've seen around here. Not quite as good as March of 1989, but really close.

At 9:20 I got a call from Peter Chan - Chief Meteorologist at WXMI TV-17 - to tell me there were signs the aurora was starting. Since we (myself, Jeff, and my brother) were at the observatory, we walked outside to see a shaft of blood-red light going up in the northwest sky. That was the starting signal to get the cameras out and start shooting.

And of course, we had to get the word out while shooting. Between firing off the shutters, cell phones were busy: Kendall called all of his friends, while I rallied the astronomy troops - calls to Jake Bourjaily, Tom Slager, Rick Clements, Randy Mergener, Joe Blumm, and even a check in with George Lessens at WZZM TV-13. When the aurora went past the zenith and down to the southern horizon, I even put in a call to Ed Graff in California, Jim Ashley in Arizona, and Andy Harwood in Florida (later I read that the aurora was seen in south Texas, so Jim might have seen it. I don't think Andy did, thanks to Hurricane Michelle).

We shot all around the sky: north, south, east, and west. Even straight up. We were in the aurora it seemed like. At times the stars disappeared due to the intensity of the auroral display. The only thing that spoiled the event was the moon rising in the northeast, but it came up late enough that the most intense displays had passed.

I finally took my last shot at 12:25 am. 4 rolls of print film and 1 roll of slide film. I have the prints back already, and the colors are just as I remember seeing them. Reds, greens, yellows, and - even though I didn't see it visually - purple.

We had almost everything you could have asked for in aurora structure. Rays, arcs, columns, corona. No flaming arcs or streaming magnetic fields though. So in that respect, the aurora of June 1991 is better.

What a night! When will come another?!? (to paraphrase Shakespeare).

Saturday, November 03, 2001

Oh The Pain

I guess there's a bad side to spending most of the day outside.

Now, November’s in Michigan can be fierce, so it's great when you can go out without a jacket for the day. Unfortunately, when what you're doing is yard work to get ready for the unholy winter to come, it hits you later. I spent almost 6 hours outside blowing, raking, bagging, mulching leaves from the yards, in order to cut the grass for the last time this year. It was both fun and tiring, but it was a great day out. And to make it better, even though I was tired, I spent the evening at the observatory, becoming reacquainted with Saturn.

Now this morning, the pain set in. Sore shoulders, back, arms, etc. A little bit too much work outside. But hey! It felt good while I was doing it! Isn't that the way it always is?

Today's more of the same, and I'm even going to mow the lawn, since I didn't get to that yesterday. And tonight -- back out to the observatory. Maybe I'll stay out there long enough to observe Jupiter.