Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sky on Fire II

Written without any fatigue setting in, for some reason. Must be an adrenaline high.....

It was a Dark and (Solar) Stormy Night. Stormy with shafts and rays of light streaming from the heavens.

We all knew there was a chance of another auroral display tonight. We were waiting. And then around 10:30pm or so (from Grand Rapids), the wait was over. This time I went out with my brother, taking back roads and such until we finally found a great spot in northeastern Kent County. We ended up off Old Belding Rd on Lessiter Rd, which is on the way to the Grattan Raceway.

The road faced north, so we were shooting right down the middle of it. There were some clouds around to the north, but nothing too bothersome. Most of the action was to the northeast, with not much seen in the way of color except green, and an occasional red and blue. There were curtains, rays, shafts, and some really good pulsing going on.

I of course used my 35mm film camera, and my brother had his Canon Digital SLR. I was a tad pickier this time, and only shot 3 rolls by the time 1:30 rolled around, and it started to wane. Also, we were getting some clouds coming in, so we bailed.

On the way back to civilization, I noticed it was picking up again, but not very strong. We got to my brothers' place, and I jumped in my car to get home. On the way down the E. Beltline (I know those of you not from around here have no clue as to these roads, but it's my story!!!) I could actually see in my rearview mirror that it was flaring up again, so I turned east of Knapp St and headed for darker northern skies. I finally found a place a few miles down the road with a good northern horizon, and set up the camera again.

Oh… My… God. The curtains! The pulsing rays!! The pulsing shafts of light as they flickered up the magnetic lines of force to the corona. I was seeing pulsating shafts from the south!! All of them converging near Orion, forming another spectacular corona. I shot, moved the camera, and shot again. Always looking for the best display, and ever mindful to watch for composition (at least I was keeping my photographers' hat on during this), I shot frame after frame. At one point I was going to leave, as it was dying again. But as I put my camera in the car, it flared up to the point I HAD to get set up again; another roll of film in the camera. I finally stopped around 3:00, as it was dying down, and also because I knew if I didn't force myself, I'd shoot until I ran out of film. And I wanted to shoot the Moon/Venus/Jupiter this morning.

Fortunately after packing up and driving home, it was calm enough that I didn't want to shoot the aurora anymore. I'm now here sitting downstairs, not even tired. Writing this and waiting until I can go out and shoot the moon, etc. This will be the finish of the sixth roll of film tonight, and they will be at the lab by 7:00am.

In all my years of observing the aurora, I've never seen such intense pulsating effects. Also, the coronas (all 5 I counted) had more detail in them than I had ever seen.

Bring on the next one!! I'm waiting!!

Addendum: After two days and nearly seven hours standing near various roads in the county, not once did the Sheriff show up.:)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Fire in the Sky!

As I type this I can still see the aurora blazing away outside my window.

I got the alert around 7pm, and took off for the big "M" because I didn't have any film. But even from Meijers parking lot I could see it great. Very green.

After calling nearly everyone I know to inform them about the aurora, instead of heading out to the observatory I instead headed north to the intersection of Fruit Ridge and 6 mile road (a few miles north of Grand Rapids. I perfect northern horizon over a corn field, with no lights to the north. You could see the glow of Grand Rapids to the south, and a bit of Muskegon to the northwest.

There were clouds. Lots of them. But, they were lit from behind an eerie green color from the aurora. But we stood around for a little bit, and the clouds began to part. In fact, there were some great views of the aurora with the clouds around.

We had reds, greens, purples; rays, spikes, shimmers, coronas, jets - the whole works. It started to die down around 10.30, so we packed up and left. I had shot 5 rolls of film.

It's going to be there all night, and might erupt again. And there's a chance for the next few days as well.

This was amazing, but I will give it second place to the aurora of November 5, 2001.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Well, today's officially the 10 of October, and I've had my car for two years now. I wrote down the milage when I got home form the observatory just now. 51455 miles on the odometer.

I've driven 19952.1 miles since I got the car two years ago from the Marron's. That's just under 10,000 miles a year. Way too much, but I don't know how to cut it down. But, for a nearly 5 year old car (the car was made in April 2000) it's not bad.

Maybe I'll write something more later. It looks like its a few months between posts, but no one reads them anyways.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Yes, it's True

Just got back from seeing Yes here in Grand Rapids, and it was a great show. Proves that the music of the 70's (and the other times they have recorded) is TONS better than what passes for music today.

We were halfway back on stage right, and had wonderful seats. Steve Howe was on our side, with Wakeman on the right. The set design by Alan Dean was fantastic.

They started rocking right from the start, with "Going for the One" and taking a 15 minute intermission after "Yours is no Disgrace." Total time of the first half was one hour.

Coming back from break, they surprised us (well, at least me) by all sitting down for an acoustic section of the show. And the biggest surprise of that part was the re-arrangement of "Roundabout" with a Chicago-style Blues feel (the rearranging was described by Rick Wakeman). That brought the house to its collective feet.

Going back to full concert mode a few songs later, "Rhythm of Love" had Jon Anderson coming down off the stage and walking through the whole crowd on the floor level (figures, the first concert at this area I wasn't sitting on the floor).

They really kicked out a great version of Mind Drive, and just before the end they played "Ritual" and for the encore they featured "Every Little Thing" and "Soon." The lights came up at 10:30. Much too soon for all of us.

A few observations:

1. My god, can't people sit and watch a concert without having to get up every 15 minutes to get a frickin' beer? Sheesh. Wait until the intermission.

2. An older guy just to the left of us was up dancing and prancing around, much to his (much younger) wife's dismay. But by the end of the show, she had enough beer in her to put on an exhibition as well.:)

3. A show like this, from a group that has passed the test of time as one of the greatest bands, proves you don't need to hop/dance/bop around with a bunch of crappy backup people and lip-synching the songs because you can't sing. Hear that Britney? Christina?

4. I was disappointed that they didn't play "Starship Trooper" or "Close to the Edge." But hey, you can't have everything.:)

Too bad I can't afford the tickets to "The Eagles" and "Simon and Garfunkel" coming up here.