Early December

_LME9439-Pano-smThe sky above Lake Windermere. Pleiades directly above Taurus. The lights of Windermere and Fairmont. A satellite streaks at the top of the frame.

The snow still hasn’t started to fly in earnest. It’s coming, it always does. Meanwhile, I’m still getting used to the cold. My toque goes on in the morning and doesn’t come off until bed. Lisa even wore hers through the weekend. She looks cute in a toque.

_LME9441.segComet 46P/Wirtanen can be seen in the leading photo. This is it enlarged. It looks like a green smudge. Throughout December it will rise in the eastern sky towards Pleiades. 

Our house can be chilly. We believe in putting on a sweater before turning up the heat. The woodpile is holding up. It has some good wood in it. Fir, tamarack, pine and even juniper. It’s good to mix it up. If you are cold and need it warm quick, pine is the way to go. If you want it slow and hot, fir. If you are going to bed and want some embers in the morning, then tamarack. If you are staying up, maybe you’ve had some wine or smoke, juniper will set the mood with it’s wonderful smell and light.

Every know and again I’ll get a few blocks of spruce. It’s light put hard to split due to it’s twisted grain. If it freezes hard in November the trees crack like gunshots. When splitting, it is not uncommon to come across a worm, pale white, as big as a finger, hiding in the wood. It always crosses my mind maybe someday I’ll be happy to come across this protein.

Speaking of protein. I made mincemeat on the weekend. Currents, raisins, apple, brown sugar, sherry, suet, orange and lemon peel and every spice in the cabinet. I think those old-timers knew how to cook.

Lisa makes wonderful pastry and has promised me tarts.

Winter is looking better all the time.

There it is

_LME9434ISS appears in the west. The streak is its movement captured in a 30 second exposure.

There have been plenty of times I’ve seen the International Space Station go across the night sky. Tonight was the first night I planned for it. It seemed only fitting with newly arrived Canadian, David Saint-Jacques aboard. 

It is the first time a Canadian has been in space since Chris Hadfield in 2013.

Chris Hadfield has been an inspiration to Canadians, sharing his experiences, singing songs and even writing a children’s book. 

I followed Hadfield’s photography when he was on the Space Station. He took wonderful images of the Canadian landscape as it appeared from space. They were both fierce and fragile.

_LME9425-Pano.smA panorama of three photos facing east. Taurus, Hyades and Pleiades can be seen in twilight. A meteor streaks towards Nutmucqcin. 

I arrived early took a few pictures and set up the camera. Sure enough the Space Station appeared right on time in the west and started across the sky. It increased in brightness as it moved directly overhead. It was my intention to get a photo of it against the eastern landscape, however the cold made my camera loosen from the tripod. Metal parts shrink in -12°c. The camera had been sitting without use for a half hour. By the time I secured the camera ISS was gone. That’s planning for you and why I’ll never work for NASA.

From what I read and hear all Canadians are excited to have another astronaut to cheer for and wish David Saint-Jacques a safe, successful mission.

Late November

_LME9394.sm

A proud raven, with a shiny red piece of meat in it’s beak, flew and perched on our roof. I distracted Willow, so she wouldn’t see, but she caught a whiff. The barking started, the raven took off into the grey November sky. 

Used the last of the summer onions today. The ones I plucked out of the dry earth when the sky was shrouded in smoke from forest fires. They were tucked away and it was lucky I’d found them.

We still have plenty of beets, spuds, carrots, garlic and smoke. The firewood is also plenty, more than holding up.

November, when the ground is either froze or not, can be harsh. The light continues to diminish, colours disappear and are replaced by grey. It can rain or snow and footing must be tested.

There’ll come a day, sure as hell, we’ll suffer shortages.  But for now, thank God, it’s only money.

***

Rode into the bush tonight just to make sure the stars were still up there. It’s been awhile since the sky has cleared. Sure enough there they were between breaks in the clouds. They were all out of place from the last time I looked. It is reassuring to become aligned once again.

We were treated to two owls hooting back and forth. The one who started first sounded like a dog barking. Willow’s hackles went up. Her circle got smaller and she barked back. Then another owl started. It was the the barking owl, the barking dog and then the hooting owl, over and over, for about ten minutes. Finally, between the three of them, they must have worked out their differences and stopped the chatter. Quiet returned. Willow’s circle grew.

***

Down in the valley or up in the mountains, at my age, I’m lucky, I walk where I want, I’m either not worth the bother or too much trouble. Willow stays alert just in case my bluff is called.

Clearing

_LME8804-sm.jpgThe Milky Way dips below the horizon, leaving the night to the brilliant winter stars.

Willow and I took for the benches, beyond the ruck, into the burn. We arrived early. The Moon wasn’t down and Orion wasn’t up. We neither had a cup of coffee or a beer to expedite the wait. Willow occupied herself looking for mice. I thought about hunting. How I could have filled the freezer by now, instead I’m foolishly after stars.

_LME8818-Pano.jpgIt was an exceptional fall day. No clouds, cool but with sunshine. Today cannnabis is legal for recreational use in Canada. It is the step in the right direction to give people the right to do what they have been doing all along. Growing, packaging, advertising, pricing distribution and tax collecting will now be handled and approved by government and friends.

_LME8794-smA meteor streaks beside Mars before it follows the moon over the eastern ridge. 

It is odd to see folks so long in favour of prohibition now on the other side, espousing and controlling the market they see as lucrative.

_LME8820-smAlong the fence line, into the darkness, chasing the night.

Wouldn’t it be funny if everybody just grew their own.

More small gardens would be a good thing.

It took the moon to go down before the sky was dark enough to make out The Milky Way.

_LME8799-smOrion rises, in pursuit of Taurus and Pleiades. The trees limbs point to Orion’s Belt.

Very fine night.

 

 

western stars

_LME8765-Pano.smHazy nights often reveal colour from both Earth and the stars. The green and purples are from space. The orange is from earth, artificial light bouncing off clouds. Mars shows red near the horizon left. A rock sculpture is in the foreground, I damned near tripped over it and lit it with my cell phone so it could be seen in the photo. Lots of light, man made and natural.

Willow and I escaped the valley bottom and headed west. Usually it’s east for us to watch the stars come up. Once we got situated it was plain to see the stars were trying to shine through cloud.

Since February, The Milky Way has swung from right in front of me to over my shoulder. Willow’s nose was down; smelling rodents, sweating, busy all night making nests for winter. All of us attached to those stars whether we know it or not.

The stars seem to be going by faster now. They say that happens when you get older. The beer goes quicker near the bottom of the keg. Same with a full tank of gas. It seems to stay full forever, but the last quarter goes quick.

In the east, Orion (Wintermaker) is coming up sideways, turning face on, to guide us through cold.

Perseids 2018

hoodoos_crop_smAndromeda and a Perseid share the sky above the ribs of earth.

Lisa and I spent the night and early morning chasing shooting stars.

The smoke in the valley bottom was poor so we headed for the mountains. It was still smokey but we could see stars.

_LME8309.smLisa captures a stunning meteor emanating from the heart of Perseus.

We spent a few hours at higher elevation. The Perseids flew. Lisa and I agreed trying to get photos of meteors is like fishing. It is so enjoyable, to cast or press the shutter, and see one jump or streak beyond our line. It is a beautiful thing to watch and experience. Just like fishing she caught the big one getting the picture above.

RCE_1010-Pano.smBackroads. A Perseid Meteor flys (left) over the haze and below the stars.

The meteors were continuous but not as plentiful as other years. It could be we missed the peak. It could also be the sky was obscured with smoke, letting us only see the brightest. The ones we saw were long and often left smoke trails.

RCE_1025-Pano_smOn the benches, coming home. Mars shining through the smoke (low, left of the Milky Way). The tip of a bright meteor at the top of the frame.

On the way home the smoke thickened. We stopped here and there to document the night.

We arrived home at 5. We agreed it’s tough to stay up all night, but well worth it.

hoodoos.satalite.smUn-cropped merged panorama. A satellite points back towards star clusters, Chi Persei and H Persei.

Perseids

perseids2.17x22A meteor (left) streaks toward Perseus at tree line. The light of Andromeda Galaxy
(right, above and left of the tree branch) reaches us 2.3 million light years after
it was shone. Lightening lights the clouds on the eastern horizon.
A large rock, lit by our campfire, is covered in fossils of sea
creatures older than the light of Andromeda.
To see it is a miracle. 

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower is now underway. If you have dark clear skies you may be able to see a few.

The peak is around the 12th and could be very good as the moon is young, leaving the night sky dark.

Come peak, Lisa and I will spend the night in the mountains chasing the streaks. It is difficult to predict the conditions. Even if clear smoke could obscure the sky. Tonight, Venus could barely be seen in the western horizon. Mars can’t be seen yet. Once it gets higher above the eastern horizon it will become visible.

Meteors occupy the entire sky. I often point my camera towards horizons, this year may be better preserved shooting directly overhead where the smoke is not so noticeable.

If that is the case It may be better in an enclosed space like a canyon. You see less of the sky, but what is seen is directly overhead.