Category Archives: Castle Willett

What’s Up With ATC Tonight?

As I’ve mentioned, we live pretty much right under the extended centerline for Burbank runway 8, which leads us to have 737’s and the like overhead at about 4,000′ all day long. Since I’m an airplane nut, this is not a problem.

It also means that I’m pretty used to which direction planes are coming from 99.99% of the time. So when I’m busy on the computer but I hear one coming from an odd direction, it makes my ears prick up.

When a second one follows, I pull out FlightAware to see what their flight paths are.

(Image from FlightAware)

That first plane (a United flight) came in from the northwest (not so unusual), then did a big 360° turn over Hidden Hills (pretty unusual) before he got lined up and had just exited stage right toward final approach. (For reference and scale, from our house at the blue dot, the 405 Freeway and Van Nuys airport there are about half way to Burbank.)

The second guy (a Southwest flight), currently over Tampa Avenue, came in a bit more normally from the north over Simi Valley, looped a little wide, but was now on final.

Then the third plane (Alaska Airlines Flight 1150) followed the second plane and made an even bigger 360° out over the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu!

What’s up with Air Traffic Control (ATC) tonight?

Let’s step outside and look toward the southwest and Malibu, shall we?

Yep, there he is!

And, yep! There he goes!

A weather-related issue? Possibly. You can see a storm cell over Topanga State Park to our south. There’s a front moving in and some of the showers were supposed to get severe, but that wasn’t supposed to happen until tomorrow morning.

Spacing? ATC maintains minimum separation between aircraft and if there are a few coming in all at the same time, someone might get told to take the scenic route and linger for a few in order to not crowd anyone else.

Whatever. I got my own personal mini air show! The day got better!

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Kotter Was Here

Found in the back yard this weekend.

Forget about Kilroy.

Kotter was here.

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Getting Close

The old blue bomber of a mom-mobile van (my 2001 Chrysler Grand Caravan) is finally almost at another big landmark:

I usually only drive it out to the CAF hangar and back on Saturdays these days, and that’s just to keep the fluids circulating and everything getting a little workout. It’s my “spare” vehicle, which is handy when kids come into town (like for the wedding last month!) or when I need to haul a bunch of crap (like when we moved last year!).

It’s about 65 miles out to the hangar and back, so next week should do it. Let’s home it doesn’t do a “Blues Brothers mobile” ten seconds later!

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Fiat Lux 2019

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the first day of the Christmas lights going up. This year is the latest that Thanksgiving can ever be, November 28th, so there’s no time to delay.

After years of putting up massive numbers of lights at our old house, we moved about eighteen months ago into a much smaller place. So last year was a bit of a learning experience. This year, having one Christmas worth of experience, it went a bit better on day one.

While the lights often look like fine spider webs of colored or sparkling luminescence, there’s a blob over the garage door that defies that.

It’s more like a black widow spider web in form rather than one of those gorgeous, symmetric, orb weaver webs. Just a weird blob of lights in a glob or a clot.

Blob. Glob. Clot.

Might have to do something about that.

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Skylight Moon

One thing about having a big, fancy, east-west aligned skylight in the kitchen is that, when the geometry is right, you can watch the full moon rise through it.

Straight up the slot!!

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Owls, Coyotes, And Meteors

There was supposed to be a decent chance of a “meteor storm” tonight for an hour or so. It sounded like a click-bait headline, but I had seen a few legit sources talking about it, so I went out to take a look.

The odds were against me. The radiant, the point in the sky where the meteors seem to be coming from, was low near the eastern horizon from the US West Coast. Viewing was to be much better on the East Coast and in Europe, where the radiant would be high in the sky. Plus, there’s always all of LA’s light pollution. And right now we’re just clearing out after our first rain of the season, so there was a lot of haze and a few scattered clouds.

I went out anyway.

It was cold, at least, “LA cold.” The temperature was about 54°, which is balmy by Midwest standards for November, but chilly by wimpy LA standards.

The owls were hooting. I heard them for the first time in weeks last night, but when I got home from the office there were at least three of them, maybe four, in the trees just a few houses down. By the time it was “at least potentially maybe meteor storm” time they had moved off a block or two, but were still easy to hear. That hooting can be heard for miles, the sound really carries.

The coyotes were howling. There’s a pack of them that lives down at the bottom of the hill – at least, that’s where I always hear them. There’s a fairly large flood control basin down there that’s all filled with brush and the creek channel leads right up into the wilderness area around Castle Peak (you saw it burning about this time last year), so it would be ideal for them. I don’t know who or what they were chasing tonight, but they were loud.

To my surprise and delight, there were also a couple of meteors. No “storm” where they were expecting as many as 20 to 30 meteors a minute (from a dark sky, on the East Coast, with no clouds, etc) but I did see two long, bright ones and three or four dimmer trails.

Did anyone else see any of them?

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Filed under Astronomy, Castle Willett, Critters

Bold Lizard

I went out into the back yard (it was about 89°F – sorry to my friends in the sub-freezing climes) and spooked a lizard.

This is one of the “tree Freds” – they’re often found sunning themselves on the side of a large tree just off to the right in this view. I went out for something, Tree Fred felt that caution was in order, and he bolted for the bushes along the fence, seen behind him.

But he stopped to watch me. He was a bold lizard today.

I had time to go in and get my good camera with the telephoto lens and Tree Fred was still waiting.

I took a couple of pictures from across the yard, just after I came out onto the porch, then started slowly walking toward him, a couple steps at a time.

Every time I got closer I expected him to bolt, but he was a Bold Lizard!

I was getting a lot of side eye, and I’m pretty sure he knew that he was much faster than I was. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he could make it into those bushes before I could blink, if he so chose.

I finally got within about five feet of him, then backed off in respect for his ectothermic lifestyle. He had a nice, toasty spot on the sidewalk and who was I to deny him those solar photons? I promised to keep on taking any crickets that I found in the house and releasing them back into his bushes. I’m going to assume he appreciates it.

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