Loch Ness Monster

LochNess20171108

While we were in Scotland, we drove past Loch Ness on the way to the Isle of Skye. We stopped and scanned the loch for monsters, but had no success. Unlike “see the Northern Lights”, I did feel like I could cross “search Loch Ness for monsters” off my bucket list. I hadn’t really expected to see any.

So imagine my surprise the next day when we were walking through the islands in the Ness River when we came across the monster! And it was very friendly, allowing us to sit on it for photos. My husband added to it, giving it feather ears. It was a delightful surprise, partly because it was a surprise.

LochNessMonsterAntha20171109LochNessMonsterFeathers20171109

If you’re ever in the area, I recommend searching for it yourself.

Northern Lights, Inverness, Scotland, 3 AM

Whenever I am north, I always check two things: what is the geomagnetic activity and is the sky dark and clear?

We were in Scotland last week visiting our son and travelled to Inverness to see the sights up there. We scouted out a good aurora viewing spot (on the 5th floor of a parking garage) just in case. The sky was clear. I knew the geomagnetic activity would need to be at least kp 5 to have a chance of seeing anything, especially from the city. I set my alarm for 3 AM because that was when the predictions said we might have enough activity. I checked the aurora web site and saw this:

AuroraPredict20171108

Geomagnetic activity above kp 6! A G2 geomagnetic storm!

It was cold, but we went outside. It looked like there was a green glow around the moon.

I had my tiny travel tripod, and it did not reach high enough to see the horizon over the parking garage walls. But there was a handy grit container that I could put the tripod over to see over the wall.

I had read that unless you are very far north, the lights are not overhead but on the horizon, so I aimed my camera at the northern horizon.

Originally, the light was dim, but then it got brighter and it was green and it moved! What a treat! Then it went away, and it was time to get out of the cold and get a little more sleep before our tour in the morning.

Unfortunately, we did not get to see the Northern Lights again on this trip.  I hope to see them again sometime in the future!

Camera geek info:

Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 8 second exposure, ISO 1250

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity

Tripod

Cable release

Movie geek info:

Pictures cropped to use lower right quarter

Title screen 2 sec, other pictures 0.5 sec

 

Halloween Costume – LEGO Bricks!

HalloweenLEGO2017

All of our family are big LEGO fans, so when we were brainstorming costume ideas with my nephews, my sister-in-law suggested a LEGO costume. LEGO bricks are a great geek costume, so we decided to run with it.

My husband, a wizard with a glue gun, implemented the idea. I think our giant LEGO bricks turned out really nice!

What costume have you created for Halloween?

Total Solar Eclipse – St. Joseph, MO

Our original plan was to drive to Missouri, visit family, and see the total solar eclipse from Rosecrans Memorial Airport in St. Joseph, MO. When we left home, the weather was predicted to be clear, but that grew worse as we travelled north. By the night before the eclipse, the weather was predicted to be partly cloudy at best, thunderstorms at worst. However, since none of the other local weather looked to be any better, we decided to stick to our original plan.

As we drove to the site, the clouds grew worse, but the traffic was not the expected carpocalypse.

The site had everyone parked in a field in a giant astronomy tailgate party. It was cloudy, but we were hopeful.

Here I am, ready to look at the sun.

EclipseSelfie

Camera geek info:

  •             Panasonic DMC-GF7 set at f/11, 1/125 second exposure, ISO 200
  •             LUMIX G VARIO 12-32/F3.5-5.6, set at 12 mm

Here’s what the site looked like.

EclipseClouds20170821-1108

Camera geek info:

  •             Panasonic DMC-GF7 set at f/11, 1/320 second exposure, ISO 200
  •             LUMIX G VARIO 12-32/F3.5-5.6, set at 12 mm

I set up my camera and tried to get a picture of the sun through the clouds. With the solar glasses on, I could see the sun, but not the camera. I tried to use live view to find the sun and focus so I wouldn’t be looking at the sun through the lens. Turns out, it was difficult to aim the camera with the telephoto lens at the sun with the solar filter on it using live view. I ended up using my wider angle lens to find the sun with live view and then switching.

Before the eclipse started, I was able to get a picture of the sun with its sunspots.

TotalEclipse20170821-1124

Time: 11:24

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/250 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 98 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

Then it rained. The camera gear and I sheltered in the car.

As the eclipse started, I was able to get another set of pictures of the sun as it went in and out of the clouds.

TotalEclipse20170821-1205

Time: 12:05

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/250 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 70 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

Then it rained.

The clouds looked angry, like aliens swarming in the sky.

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/160 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX lens, set at 24 mm, autofocus

Then it rained again, harder, with thunder. A lot of people started leaving. With totality a half hour away, I thought they’d just end up sitting in traffic and wouldn’t get anywhere better. We stayed. I hoped that the rain would clear enough of the cloud cover that we’d get another view of the sun.

When it stopped raining, I got out of the car.

An exclamation rose up from the crowd around me. Up in the sky, a tiny sliver of sun was visible through the clouds.

TotalEclipse20170821-1303

Time: 13:03

TotalEclipse20170821-1304

Time: 13:04

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/160 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 200 mm, autofocus

The sliver went in and out of the clouds.

Then it got dark. And I said, “whoa!” Then it got darker. “Wow!” Then it got as dark as night. “Amazing!!!!!”

For over two and a half minutes, we had darkness in the daytime. But the horizon was a sunset in every direction. In one direction I could see a pink and orange cloud with rain streaking down from it in the sunset, with black overhead and black below. Where we were, it was dark.

I spent some time with my mouth gaping open, admiring the sight.

My pictures of the sunset do not do it justice, as the camera was still set for taking pictures of the sun.

EclipseSunset

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/160 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 188 mm, autofocus

Then, after two and a half minutes of darkness, the sun returned. People on the field cheered. People on the bluff set off fireworks.

TotalEclipse20170821-1309

Time: 13:09

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/25 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 200 mm, autofocus

TotalEclipse20170821-1312

Time: 13:12

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/400 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 172 mm, autofocus

As the moon slowly uncovered the sun, the clouds drifted away.

TotalEclipse20170821-1338

Time: 13:38

TotalEclipse20170821-1347

Time: 13:47

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/100 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 163 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

TotalEclipse20170821-1405

Time: 14:05

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/4, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 163 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

TotalEclipse20170821-1408

Time: 14:08

Note that the sunspots have rotated from their position before the eclipse!

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/8, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 163 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

TotalEclipse20170821-1417

Time: 14:17

TotalEclipse20170821-1429

Time: 14:29

Camera geek info:

  •             Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100
  •             Canon EF 70 – 200 mm f/4L lens, set at 163 mm, manual focus at infinity
  •             Tripod
  •             Cable release
  •             Homemade Baader Solar Film solar filter

I have enough pictures of the second half of the eclipse that I may try to make a time-lapse movie of it.

Note that all of these pictures were taken through clouds, and even with that, the pictures at the end were overexposed, and I could not see the sunspots. For a cloudless day, I’d want to use a much faster shutter speed. And remember to zoom the telephoto lens all the way out. LOL.

In spite of the clouds, experiencing totality was nothing short of amazing. I would not trade my cloudy totality for someone else’s sunny 98%. I look forward to trying this again when the next US total solar eclipse occurs over my home state of Texas!