Augusts are typically dry in the Finger Lakes, drawing down creeks to a thin flow perfect for photography. I took the opportunity of Sunday leisure time to climb into Fillmore Glen gorge, set up the tripod and shoot.
The sun broke through the clouds for this shot.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 10, 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached the Florida Keys, I cannot sleep, worried about family members north of Miami and in Daytona Beach. To pass the time, I returned to the golden hours of March 4, 2017 evening. On vacation, Pam and I walked Cocoa Beach starting from Lori Wilson Park, headed north.
The light was perfect when I decided to switch to Raw-Jpeg mode, feeling the extra space was worth it. I don’t know why I don’t shoot Raw 100% of the time, as always, in retrospect, I regret using jpeg only. The camera was the Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a DT 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens purchased 2008 after an expedition to the Superstition Wilderness.
After capturing a wedding photo shoot and surfers there was this set of two Kite Skaters going at least 20 miles an hour. The Sony Alpha was quick enough to capture some of the action in raw mode, I am not satisfied with the sharpness of the images as the lens was not fast enough.
We had never watched kite skaters before and were prepared to understand the vision from watching distant kite surfers out beyond the breakers. North winds are the best for any type of kiting on Cocoa Beach and, that day, the wind was northeast. These riders zipped by in less than a minute. The sport is low key, it does not exist on Wikipedia. Image that. These two are having a fantastic time and stayed upright, going on and on and on down the miles long beach.
1990 KiteSkate pioneers on the USA east coast experimented with four-line controllable parafoil kites powering in-line skates for exciting rides on asphalt surfaces.
The name “Wheels of Doom” suggest the danger of going this fast over a hard, rough surface.
These Cocoa Beach riders are outfitted for speed and safety: pads, helmets.
Barefeet?? Unprotected skin? They must know how to dress, though maybe not. He has never fallen?
The beach within the tide line is solid, the pebbles, broken shells and such unforgiving as asphalt.
These views within the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure were captured during a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005. By way of orientation, the observation room we visited is near the location labeled “4” on the model of the following photograph or the “Observation Room” of the drawing.
We learned each of the sets of mirrors is considered a separate telescope. The first step in designing the new solar telescope was to determine the optimal image scale. Working on the spectra of the solar granules, on the physical structure of the sunspots and their associated magnetic fields, requires a considerable image size. Past experience has shown that the optimal image of the sun should be approximately 0.91 meters. The highlight of our visit to the Main Observation room was meeting with the technician operating the recently developed low-cost adaptive optics system.
Tip-tilt correction and low order wavefront correction is available with a number of portable optical benches. These are primarily used with the Main spectrograph and the Solar Stellar spectrograph on the Main telescope, but due to their compact mounting they could be used with other telescopes and instruments in the facility.
This configuration uses a rapidly deformable mirror to correct distortions introduced by the turbulent atmosphere. Using sensors to measure the degree of image distortion, the adaptive optics system adjusts the shape of the mirror accordingly and converts a blurred image into a clear one. The following image demonstrates the correction. “Low-cost” = $25,000 in 2003 US dollars. Under references is a link to a full description of the device by the creator.
A main area of study in the observatory is the structure of sunspots, which are relatively cold, dark spots on the surface of the Sun created by intense magnetic activity.
Some of the most important discoveries made at McMath-Pierce include the detection of water vapor in the Sun, the measurement of kilogauss magnetic fields (thousands of times stronger than those on Earth) outside sunspots and the detection of a natural maser (like a laser, but with a microwave instead of visible light) in the Martian atmosphere.
Over the years and technological advances, the National Solar Observatory has moved its headquarters from Tucson to Boulder, Colorado. The organization abandoned its solar telescopes at Kitt Peak and in New Mexico for a larger instrument in Hawaii, the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on the island of Maui, which began operating in 1919.
These views within the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure were captured during a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005. By way of orientation, think of yourself at the location labeled “4” on this model. This is the only large telescope where humans can view the interior and visually experience the light paths “bouncing” between the mirrors.
McMath–Pierce solar telescope has three heliostats mounted on a 110-foot tower adjacent to a slanted enclosure. The 2.03-meter heliostat feeds a 1.61-meter primary mirror, there are 1.07-meter and 0.91-meter primary mirrors fed by a pair of 0.81-meter heliostats. Here we are inside the slanted enclosure, looking up the shaft to the tower mounted heliostats, readily identified as the three circles, the largest at center (3.51 feet in diameter). The smaller (2.66 feet) heliostats named “East” (on left) and “West.”
Built in 1962, the building was designed by American architect Myron Goldsmith and Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan. It was the largest solar telescope and the largest unobstructed aperture telescope in the world. It is named after the astronomers Robert Raynolds McMath and Keith Pierce. Painted white to reflect sunlight to reduce heat accumulation, the enclosure is water cooled to prevent convection currents through the column of air within the slanted enclosure, keeping the air as still as possible along the light path between the mirrors.
In the three photographs following, we face the underground portion of the slanted shaft and (what looks to be) the 0.91 meter (2.99 feet) primary concave mirror. I say that because in some of the photographs a beam of light, to the left of the mirror, can be seen travelling further underground, presumably to the largest primary mirror. As there is only one such light beam, I conclude the west heliostat is inactive.
Here we looking up the slanted enclosure. Look carefully at the first photograph, below, to see reflections on the glass partition. The observation platform was separated from the light paths to maintain the stillness of the air column. The two mirrors of the first photograph are the third mirror, reflecting concentrated sunlight from the 0.91 and 1.61-meter primary mirrors into the observatory rooms. The mirror for the 1.07-meter primary is out of sight in foreground, I believe this set of three mirrors (West heliostats, primary and third) was out of service.
The second photograph, on right, is a close up of the third mirror for the largest primary. A foreshortened, perfectly round light disk is clearly visible.
Here we are inside the slanted enclosure, facing the underground portion of the slanted shaft and (what looks to be) the 0.91-meter primary concave mirror. In the lower right corner is the reverse side of the third mirror for the largest primary mirror, the 1.61-meter.
Reference: Wikipedia “McMath–Pierce solar telescope”
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Use your pinky finger to apprehend the sky dome. Imagine yourself at sea, out of sight of land, on a calm day. Keeping your arm extended, place your pinky-tip on the horizon due east, raise your arm directly overhead. The average sized pinky-tip will have spanned 90 of its lengths. The distance measured from the horizon to directly overhead, the zenith, is 90 degrees of sky dome, about one pinky-width per degree, one-fourth of the entire 360 degrees of sky around your spot on the globe.
The apparent width of the sun disk from earth covers 1/2 degree of sky dome. The disk center point moves 15 degrees per hour (360/24 = 15). Using these facts to estimate time to sunset is relatively straightforward. Estimating time to dawn from the sky is more difficult. This graphic, “Twilight-dawn subcategories,” is a way to grasping what happens. Your position on the earth globe affects the experience. For example, at northern latitudes above 60°34′ summer nights never become darker than civil twilight because the sun’s midpoint never drops lower than 6 degrees below the horizon. Civil twilight lasts all night long summer times in parts of Sweden and Finland.
The date-time stamp on the first photograph of this series is 6:46:23 am, Cocoa Beach sunrise for February 1st was 7:09:40, 00:23:17, 23.283 minutes in decimal notation, later. This duration divided by 60 minutes in an hour and multiplied by the sun’s apparent velocity across the sky (15 degrees per hour) and minus the .25 degree between sun’s center and disk edge, gives the sun’s center as 5.57 degrees below the horizon: this is a photograph of the sky a minute or so after the sun passed civil dawn into civil twilight. I am not more exact because this calculation does not account the deviation of the sun path from due east at this latitude, lengthening civil twilight duration by almost a minute.
The following photograph is time-stamped 7:05:06, 4.567 minutes until sunrise, sun center is just below the horizon, setting the dark clouds of the previous photograph fleetingly on fire.
Sunrise has passed in the following photographs, obscured by clouds and making for a great light show. Enjoy!!
“Dawn” Wikipedia page, the graphic “Twilight-dawn subcategories,” and the descriptions of subcategories came from this page.
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Even on vacation I rise early to better enjoy the day. This year’s escape from the Ithaca winter, at Cocoa Beach, up at 5 am with a beach chair and oranges in hand I walked in darkness from our beach side resort to the tide high point. My time occupied by sky watching I peeled, and ate, oranges while locating stars through the wind blown clouds. When the barely perceptible dawn light began I packed it up to find Pam, who asked to be awake for sunrise.
This day, we ate breakfast from ready to eat food purchased from the Publix market close by on Atlantic Avenue, and caught up with the news craziness. We had a day at the Kennedy Space Center planned after the sunrise walk.
Here is our view while walking north along the tide line. In the far far distance are the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly building and a space launch gantry. Follow the shoreline to find the pier.
We walked nowhere near the pier, barely visible, not to mention Sam Shepard park. The pier and park are a day’s walk. We had a few hours free before our “Lunch with an Astronaut” event at Kennedy Space Center.
The highlight of this sunrise walk was this large sandcastle on the beach in front of a condominium, the Hilton is to the left. Lori Wilson Park is out of sight to the left. A great feature of the park, for us since the International Palms were we stayed is next to it to the north, was the park life guards.
So, we approached this sandcastle from the north. It survived the high tide to a new day, obviously it required time and resources to build. The day before was a big beach day. Wednesday was a brilliant, summer-like day for the first of March.
A little closer, the footsteps inside the first moat are interesting.
Pam next to the castle provides scale
Here is the central pyramid. I enjoy the dawn light on the grasses. That is a sea gull feather on the apex.
Decorative sea shell band facing the ocean.
The destiny of all our human conceits. Impermanence is part of the beauty of sand castles.
With grandchildren in the Miami Area and a sister in Daytona Beach, Florida was on my mind this morning and memories of this beautiful experience on Cocoa Beach came to mind. After an eventful day touring the NASA launch control center, Pam and I took an evening walk during the golden hour, me with camera in hand.
Full in expectation of catching the passing scene with lots of shot I set to full size jpeg mode using a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a DT 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens. The light was exceptional, so I did not expect much post production work.
My first impression was of the line of cruise ships heading south from Port Canaveral, the starboard side lit perfectly behind human denizens of the Cocoa Beach shore, in full enjoyment mode. A synergy of the images struck me. I took a few experimental shots then, as we progressed down the beach front this unusual tableau came into view.
The session proceeded smoothly and professionally, it was a pleasure to watch. I felt no compunction for capturing these private moments on a public beach, the transcendence of the images reflect well on all participants.
Two minutes after capturing the last light on Concon Point, see “Valparaiso Departure II”, turning the camera 180 degrees, to the south, looking along the Chilean coast, to capture birds on the wing headed toward shore at day’s end.
Remembering other times,
waiting for darkness
with a sky map, studying it to make sense of the stars.
How far? How large?
Light from our star, eight minutes old,
grazed the earth’s rim the breath of a moth wing ago.
Connect the dots, stories of heroes, monsters.
Our star, as we know it now
Progress, an illusion to be understood
No less mysterious for that
Look back to the sheltering headland of Valparaiso, glowing.
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
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