A Secretive and Failed Zuma SpaceX Mission

Driving to Cocoa Beach from Ithaca, Pam and I missed a horrendous storm because we did a side trip to Louisville, Kentucky, avoiding I95 January 4th and 5th and a rare and treacherous ice storm.

We met people who were stranded overnight near Savannah, Georgia while, on the same days, we drove Kentucky Hill Country for an overnight at Macon, Georgia all in excellent, dry, cold weather.
The storm itself, was a stroke of luck.  The first Space X launch of 2018 was delayed by the weather until the evening of Sunday, January 7th.
I was in place, in the dark, on Cocoa Beach with my Canon DSLR on bulb mode, securely mounted on a travel tripod.  My choice of lens was the 24 mm “wide angle.”

Proximity to the Kennedy Space Center is a reason we return to Cocoa Beach.  A year ago, March 2007, we did the “Launch Director Tour” offered once a month (if at all) and had a fantastic day. I’ll need to blog about it.

For now, here is a shot from the former Space Shuttle launch room.

Launch Control Center

I planned camera placement well for this night launch.  The view held the entire parabola of the trail. Camera placement was based on researching the launch complex, finding it on Google Earth, using the line feature to determine the orientation of the complex from my location on Cocoa Beach.

Live, the start of the launch is like a dawn in the northern sky.  I broke off the exposure to somewhat capture the effect.

Secretive and Failed Zuma Mission

The human eye, only the Falcon 9 flame is visible, as a single point of bright light ever rising, lighting the beach and clouds in a soft glow.

Secretive and Failed Zuma Mission

The long exposure blends the flame into a bright parabola, at one point the rocket engines throttle back, eventually the color changed to reddish from bright white.  I held the exposure until the rocket flame, in the image, turned to blue and faded away.

We waited for six (6) or so minutes, the camera mount and orientation unchanged, and then the incredible returning booster briefly lit up to land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. I missed the beginning of the burn.  In retrospect, I should have timed the launch and opened the shuttle 5 minutes or so after “blast off.”

Secretive and Failed Zuma Mission

Followed by a TWO sonic boom finale. Kabooom….Kabooom.

We read in the news the secret military satellite, named “Zuma”, on top of the Falcon crashed into the Indian Ocean.  SpaceX claimed the launch was a success (??), that the protective fairing jettisoned successfully.  No mention was made of the secret payload. The failure was with the Northup Grumman built “Zuma” satellite?  Hmmmmm.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Herbaceous Peony 50 mm

Tree Peony

Peony species (scientific name Paeonia lactiflora) with plants that die back in cold weather to regrow each spring from a tuberous root are called “herbaceous,” from the latin word for grassy. The stems and branches remain soft and pliable, some stiff enough to hold the large, showy flowers. The first varieties introduced to Europe and named 1753 were white, “lactiflora” mean milk-white flower.

Reviewing my photography in preparation for this post I discovered not a single one for herbaceous peony, such was my interest in the woody varieties my in-laws planted around the property. Fortunately, they did not neglect the herbaceous varieties featured here.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens with a “BeFree” Manfrotto tripod with ball head. f-stop was tamped down to the maximum, f16 for this lens. Exposures were taken when the intermittent morning breeze abated.

Click any photograph for a larger view to open in new browser tab.

Paeonia lactiflora, in the family Paeoniaceae, contains around 30 species in Europe, across Asia and in western North America growing wild in scrub and woods, often in rocky places or on cliffs. Most species in Eastern Europe, others in the Caucasus, central Asia, the Himalayas, and Japan, mainly on limestone, and a species in dry parts of California.

Peonies have long been cultivated for their spectactular flowers as well as for their medicinal preoperties, particularily in China

Reference:  “The Botanical Garden” by Phillips and Rix, Volume I (2002, Firefly Books, Buffalo, New York and Willowdale, Ontario

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Island Shrine

part of the Irish landscape

A roadside shrine on Cottage Road, Inishmore. The faith brought by the saints has deep roots here.

A large crucifix set with wet stone walls with cut flowers. The walls are the native limestone.

It is a spring (early June) afternoon and there are fern and wildflowers. The white flowers are Greater Burnet saxifrage (Scientific Name: Pimpinella major).

Click Me for Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

The existing dry stone wall was interrupted by the shrine. In the distance are dry stone walls around fields, a stone shed, feeding horses and the sea, being Galway Bay, storm clouds with distant rain.

Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

References: search google “Wet Stone”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Peppermint Drops

Left for us by Pam’s Father

Pam’s father planted this rose on the east side where it is warmed wintertime by several hours of morning light when the sun is out. Extra attention is needed for watering as the roots are under a bay window and an awning.

It is a miniature rose, the blooms about 1.5 inch across, this and the irregular red and white coloring reminds me of peppermint candies, so we call it our peppermint rose (not to be confused with the “Peppermint Rose” branded doll). The descent from wild rose is clear in the simplicity of the form. The number of flower petals identify it as a hybrid “modern rose: there are many more than five (5) petals of the wild rose.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens with a “BeFree” Manfrotto tripod with ball head. f-stop was tamped down to the maximum, f16 for this lens. In spite of the light intermittent breezes I chose ISO 200. The combination of f-stop and low ISO resulted in a longer exposure that I worked around by waiting for the blooms to settle down between the breezes.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Inishmore Slideshow

An Aran Island Revel

Imagine yourselves in an open cart exploring the island. Here are the photographs from my Inishmore exploration posts. Enjoy!!

Click for another great Island post, “Inisheer Welcomes the 2014 Gaeltacht Irish Football Champions.”

Cliff Edge II

Flowers on the edge

From the commanding location of Dun Aonghasa, looking northeast across Inishmore island, we can understand why the ancient builders chose this location.

We also see the transition from exposed limestone to the fields built literally from the ground up (see my post “The How of Soil”).  For a closer view of island houses see my posts “Settled In” and “Cottage Road Cottage.”

The field walls are described in my posts, “What is a rock, what is a stone?” and “Stone on Stone.”

Click the photograph for a larger view.  Enjoy!!

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

Breaking waves, turquoise sea below the dramatic cliffs of the ancient fort Dun Aonghasa (Dun Aengus),

in the distance the karst landscape of Inishmore with clouds of an approaching storm over Galway Bay.

Sea Campion (scientific name: Silene uniflora) (irish name: Coireán mara) clings to the edge.

Inishmore, Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Betty Boop

A cartoon come to life

These Floribunda, semi-double petaled blooms were captured along with the yellow double cluster roses of the previous post, in the evening shade of a late spring day, June 23rd.

Above is a mix of just opened (the dark red, center bottom), fully opened new (just to right of center) and aging (all the rest).

Throughout this set I used the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr with the EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM stabilized with a Manfrotto 468MG tripod with Hydrostatic Ball Head.

Floribundas, sometimes called cluster flowered roses, originated with Poulsen’s nursery in Denmark from crossed with Hybrid Teas with Polyantha Roses, themselves crosses between dwarf Chinas and a dwarf, repeat-flowering form of R. multiflora. Texas-based rose hybridizer Tom Carruth released Betty Boop in 1999, naming it after a cartoon character from the 1930’s. Pam found this plant around 2008 offered by the K-mart store in Cortland. She is amazed by the beauty of the Betty Boops.

Another beloved characteristic is the longevity of the blooms. Pam collected and arranged this vase last week, for Father’s Day. I provided the setting. In this controlled environment the low ISO provides better colors and contrast with minimal digital noise.

References

“The Botanical Garden” Vol 1, Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Firefly Books, Buffalo, N.Y. 2002 pp 228 – 233.

Wikipedia search for “Betty Boop rose” and ” Tom Carruth rose.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lemon Yellow

With us since ancient times

Enjoyed since ancient times throughout the Middle East and China, our European roses were cultivated from Chinese introduced in the late 18th Century. One evening this June, unusually quiet with no breeze, Pam asked me to photograph this tall shrub in full bloom. These are protected from grazing deer by a stout fence, six feet tall.

At first it appears the blooms are a mix of colors from lemon yellow to cream.

The variation is an indication of each bloom’s age since opening. At first each opens to a lemon yellow. Here is a combination of opening and tightly closed bud. Throughout this set I used the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr with the EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM stabilized with a Manfrotto 468MG tripod with Hydrostatic Ball Head. The stabilization allowed me to present the following comparison, at right the very fast 50 mm lens allows the opening bud to be highlighted. Left side, the lens diaphragm is somewhat closed and the opening bud, tightly closed and leaves are all seen. The pinnate, serrated leaves have one terminal lobe and two lateral for a set of three. There are fewer thorns than some, but sharp enough to be careful.

Flowers bloom throughout the late spring, summer and fall. Pam stops fertilizing in late summer to allow the plant to harden for our Zone 4b winters. Here you can see the plentiful flower buds, compare the opening to mature flower colors.

References

“The Botanical Garden” Vol 1, Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Firefly Books, Buffalo, N.Y. 2002 pp 228 – 233

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Stone on Stone

Wide enough

Enjoying travel on a horse trap, a type of carriage, on Inishmore (Inis Mór), the largest Aran Island in Galway Bay we headed up Cottage Road from Kilronan, the main island settlement.  It was there we embarked from the Doolin ferry, hired the driver, his horse drawn trap.  Our destination an iron age fort, Dun Aengus (Dún Aonghasa, the Irish language name) and the sights along the way.

The feeling of this blurry photograph is too good to let lie.  I just kept snapping away from the moving carriage, here we are descending a hill and moving a bit faster, the elevation provides this view of Galway Bay, Connemara and the Twelve Pins beyond.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

There’s a gate in the cow field, though some fields with cows were gateless. There is a simple answer to the mystery. At one point our driver stopped by his field and and demonstrated how the wall is pulled down to make an opening, the rocks stacked to make this easy. When the cows are in, the rocks go back up, a matter of 10 minutes or so to make a cow-width passage.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Settled In

Inishmore Cottage among fields

An island cottage among fields along the Galway Bay coast, the twelve pins of Connemara beyond.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

Notice the playhouse, a replica of the larger cottage.

Click me for the next post of this series, “Stiffed.”

Click me for the first post of this series, “Horse Trap on Inishmore.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved