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.

When is “moss” not moss?

Southern Gothic

We spotted this stuff within minutes of arriving at McKee Gardens for an afternoon visit with the grandchildren. Festooned above our heads from thick Oak branches, I could not resist pulling out the camera for this photograph to capture the flavor of Southern Gothic. Fortunately, our group included neither deeply flawed nor disturbing characters, though we can confess to a touch of eccentricity.

Spanish Moss produces inconspicuous flowers with tiny seeds. Spanish Moss also propagates from fragments of the fine leaves.

Spanish Moss is neither moss nor Spanish. Scientific name Tillandsia usneoides, this flowering plant is in the family Bromeliaceae that includes pineapple. Here we have two epiphytic bromelias sharing the trunk of a palm.

A rootless epiphyte native to the tropical / semi-tropical Americas, Spanish Moss has a preference for southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) because of their high rates of foliar mineral leaching (calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus) that provides an abundant supply of nutrients to the epiphytic plant.

My two volume “go to” resource for plants and trees had sparse information about Spanish Moss and no wonder as it is a burden on trees, though not parasitic, and so more a pest than a decorative element to cherish. Surprisingly, Spanish Moss was purposely introduced to Hawaii where it is now known as “Pele’s Hair” after their fire goddess.

Click me for a dinosaur video from McKee Gardens.

Reference: wikipedia “Spanish Moss”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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

The Waterlily Genus Nymphaea

Congrats to all fathers and grandfathers, Happy Fathers Day

The McKee informative placard divides the Genus Nymphaea into “Hardy” and “Tropical” waterlilies. “Hardy” being plants native to temperate climates, such as New York State. I do not have photos of these from McKee. Nor are there examples of Lotus.

What I have is an abundance of the “tropical” varieties.

The family Nymphaeaceae, of which the genus Nymphaea is a part, is thought to be the most basic of all the Angiosperms. A minute flower of the Nymphaea type was found in early Cretaceous deposits in Portugal, dating early waterlilies to at least 115-125 million years ago.

Angiosperm,” the word referring to all flowering plants, is composed to two greek words angio-. meaning enclosed, and -sperm, meaning seed. “DNA studies indicate the Nymphaeaceae separated from the rest of the angiosperm family tree…..before the separation of the monocots and dicots.” – see reference.

Click me for wonderful sculpture at McKee Gardens

Reference: The Botanical Garden, Volume II, by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Firefly Books, pp 382-383

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.”

Birds Around the Weigela

an exceptional bloom for our backyard wonder

Sad to say, today, Sunday June 12th, the flowering bush is spent, the blooms withered and falling. Pam took time to document some visitors while the Weigela was in its glory. This is a sample of the species we enjoy while washing the dishes.

These photographs were taken by Pam through our windows with her Iphone 8 plus.

Here is a series of informative signs from Cass Park, just down the hill on the Cayuga Lake Inlet. Pictured are resident birds, most of them visited our backyard feeder.

Click me to find background information on our Weigela bush.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Weigela Bountiful

an exceptional bloom for our backyard wonder

Click me to find background information on our Weigela bush.

2022 is a breakout year for the Weigela bushes of our yard, each has bloomed literally for a month. The flowers are still fresh today.

Click either photograph to view a larger image on a new browser tab.

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 in the evening with the sunlight filtered through our hemlock trees.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

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