Category Archives: Video

No Venus & No Jupiter

They’re closer tonight than they were last night – celestial mechanics is sort of unstoppable – but we saw nothing from Los Angeles.

Sunset was an exercise in Chiaroscuro – very nice.

But there was no way we were going to see Venus or Jupiter. I couldn’t even see the moon overhead.

But an interesting sunset. You take what you can get.

An hour or so later when I went to double check…

Solid overcast & rain. And apparently more of that for the next couple of days.

It would be nice to get a clear sky on Wednesday, the day of closest approach, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Sunsets, Video, Weather

A Quarter Gazillion Ravens

Again today, a LOT of ravens.

They were filling the sky when I was getting home with groceries.

In an interesting follow up to yesterday’s post, the red-tailed hawks were out as well. (This may again have something to do with why the ravens were carrying on.) I couldn’t see the hawks, but I could hear them – that cry that you hear in the soundtrack of every movie ever made showing the American West. Then, about 30 seconds after this video was finshed, I heard one again, much closer, and spotted one of them diving out of the sun. The cloud of ravens had shifted off a half-block or so down into the canyon, but there were one or two stragglers off by themselves…

*BOOM* Just a cloud of black feathers where the raven and hawk’s paths had intersected.

I don’t know if it was the hawk that had been injured yesterday by the mobbing of the raven pack, and it almost certainly wasn’t the raven who did it (I’m assuming), but the Wheel of Life took another turn right there!

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Filed under Birds, Critters, Video

Big Rain In SoCal

Well, NorCal is getting hit hard to, but this is even more unusual for us. It started out quiet, with steady, soft rain all day. I love the sound.

I started to see news reports about some seriously bad weather heading south towards us, with places up in the Santa Barbara mountains getting over ten inches of rain in just a couple of hours. That, of course, leads to some major flooding up in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, and now we’re seeing some of that in Los Angeles County.

Then the heavy rain started.

Followed by the strong winds.

We’re fine. We live on top of a fairly large hill, so as long as we don’t have a mudslide or something taking the ground out beneath us, we’ll be just fine. If water gets to our yard, we don’t need a rescue, we need an ark! There might be some branches down and some street flooding down at the bottom of the hill, but our biggest potential concern would be a power outage or one of the big trees coming down on the house. So far, no sign of anything like that happening.

We’re in a lull for a couple of hours, but the word is that the second, BIG part of this storm is coming by tomorrow morning. Thunderbolts! Lighting! Very, very exciting!

Stay safe out there, folks!

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Filed under Video, Weather

New Year’s Eve 2022

Good bye, 2022. I can’t say that I’ll miss you much.

You were better than 2020 or 2021, what with Biden and House investigations and vaccines vs Trump and January 6th and COVID, but let’s be honest, the bar wasn’t set that high.

Personally, we did finally get to take a handful of trips, but you left a lot of room for improvement for 2023 to tackle.

It’s pouring in Los Angeles tonight, there’s street flooding in San Francisco, and pretty much the whole state is getting one of those 10-14 day “atmospheric river” deluges – the ones we’ve been praying for since the drought was getting pretty desperate, so 2023 is starting out okay from that viewpoint.

We’ll see what 2023 brings. I’m trying not to be hopeful, but the permanent optimism (Pollyanna syndrome) that was beaten into my DNA by the nuns at Christ the King Elementary still is lurking out there, hoping for good things for my beloved Chiefs, Kings, and Angels. There’s the eternal hope that THIS will be the year I get back into the left seat at the pointy end of a plane. There are already a couple of trips planned (barring the emergence of yet another COVID strain and the deaths of hundreds of thousands) and if I could spend some quality time with friends, well, that would be spectacular.

So, with the 2022 Christmas cards all sent (*) out last week, I’ll get on with with accounting and tax returns and financial statements for 2022 but let’s start living in 2023. As a good friend on Twitter was saying tonight, “We must love one another or die.” I like Plan A so much better. It sounds much more fun.

Let’s do that. Happy New Year, y’all.

(*) – If you’ve gotten cards in the past but have moved and don’t get a card this year, let me know what your new address is… If you haven’t gotten cards in the past but want to, I’ve still got a handful left, so send me your address. (


Filed under Christmas Lights, Video, Weather

Our Sky Is So Much Not Clear

I think the word “opaque” comes to mind.

I hope some of you saw the planets. I’ll try again tomorrow. And for the rest of the week.

But tonight was definitely a no go.

There’s supposed to be a night launch out of Vandenberg in the next couple of days? Maybe? Weather permitting?

If the weather is like this, I won’t be watching. But if the weather’s like this, they might not be launching, so we’re even.

Again – desperately need the rain. But there’s a price.

But it’s very relaxing to listen to the rain and watch the lights.

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Filed under Video, Weather


Early again today with a couple of quick notes and one critically important message for the day:

    1. Critically important message for the day – if you’re in the US and eligible,


    2. For last night’s total lunar eclipse, the last one until 2025, as expected, I saw exactly diddly squat.
    3. In case you haven’t heard, there’s an incredibly important election in the US today, so make sure you vote if you’re eligible!
    4. About an hour before last night’s total lunar eclipse started there were huge breaks in the clouds and the extremely bright full moon was lovely. You can see Jupiter just above the tree in the lower left.
    5. In many US states, California included, you can sign up and register to vote on the day of the election, so not being registered isn’t an excuse. If you’re in one of those states and you can do this, then vote!
    6. We didn’t win the $2.04B lottery last night, even though they’re reporting that the ticket was sold in LA County. There’s something like ten million plus folks in LA County and about 99% of them bought tickets. Someone’s a megabazillionaire today, but not on our block.
    7. In most states (I’m not an expert, but it’s what I keep seeing repeated) if you’re in line when the polls close, stay there and they have to keep the polls open until everyone votes. So get in line and stand your ground to vote!
    8. This morning, we’re getting some much needed rain. It’s only an inch or so, but given the multi-year drought we’re in, that’s a good thing.
    9. Finally, even if it’s raining or snowing where you are, even if the lines are long (which is actually a good thing!), even if it’s inconvenient, even if it means you’re going to miss some TV show or sportsball event, even if you’re really tired – none of those are legitimate excuses. For probably the most critical threat to our government since the Civil War over 160 years ago, we all need to go out and vote. Bury the fascists and their attempts to drag us back to the 1850’s with an overwhelming vote for democracy, personal rights, and human decency.
    10. With this list format, pictures, and video, the formatting on this is going to be bizarre – whatever. You know what’s important?

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Politics, Video, Weather

Vandenberg Video

This was a shot in the dark. There were so many unknowns. Where would the rocket be rising over the mountains? How loud would it be? How fast would it move? How big would it be? Which direction would it be going?

I had some good guesses for some of those. If you look at the video, my eyeballing of the map and directions said “over that white barn with the brown roof out there.” It actually came up directly over that telephone pole to the left of the white barn.

I had my iPhone set as wide as possible in order to increase the odds of catching the rocket – but that also means that when it did, the rocket was just a dot. If I had been actively controlling the video recording, I could have done much better, zoomed in, etc. Next time.

It was windy out there. You’ll hear a LOT of wind noise, and I don’t know if anyone makes a wind sock to slip over the bottom (i.e., the microphone end) of an iPhone 13. Probably should Google that, they probably do. Or I should probably make one, patent it, and get rich.

Lessons learned.

If you can zoom in to see portions of the video, do so. You can actually see the rocket pretty well since this is a high-definition video. I’ve also got some reasonably fancy video software that I’ve never used that says it can do that and give me a video output of that – we’ll see how my learning curve goes. But not tonight.

Through the wind noise, in the background you can hear the launch comms (the guys in the foreground had a radio) and you’ll hear “Engine start,” then “Liftoff,” then at 0:24 you’ll hear people say “There it is!”

At about 0:37 you can start to see the rocket as a glint, heading straight up from that telephone pole toward the sun, and at about 0:47 you start to hear the roar of the engines.

At about 1:18 you see a vapor condensation trail start to appear just to the right of the sun and you can really start to hear the “ripping” sound from the engines.

At 1:48 the vapor trail stops but you can still see the dot of light from the engines as the rocket starts to pitch over to the left, headed south over the Pacific Ocean.

I gave the camera a nudge to the left to keep tracking it at about 2:00, and you can follow that dot all the way to the left edge of the frame, about the time you hear a helicopter go by at 2:39.

The vapor trail starts to drift, down at the bottom you see a cloud of exhaust start to rise from the pad, over the hill, and there’s a ton of wind noise as the video wraps up.

A lot of room for improvement, but it doesn’t suck for a shot in the dark.

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Filed under Space, Video

Another Night Launch Out Of Vandenberg

Perhaps not quite as spectacular as a launch just after sunset, when the sky is almost dark but the Sun’s still just over the horizon, illuminating the cloud of gas at stage separation to make a giant “space squid” in the sky. Perhaps. But far easier to see than a day launch, where with binoculars you might see a bright dot for five seconds, if you’re lucky.

About 45-50 seconds after launch something like 100 miles northwest of here, the rocket climbs high enough to be seen above the mountains to our west. The rocket’s tail is orange and grows longer as the rocket climbs and the atmosphere gets thinner. It also turns more blue and white, finally blinking out as the first stage shuts down and separates from the second stage.

Visually I could see the rocket’s second stage firing and pushing the payload on to orbit for another two minutes or so. With binoculars in the past I’ve seen it for another two or three minutes, all the way until it disappears over the horizon to the south. Tonight, with just my Mark I eyeballs, I wasn’t quite that lucky.

Quite the show! I can’t wait to see a launch much more up close and personal.

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Filed under Space, Video

A Conversation With StumpTail

StumpTail apparently drew duty guarding the front porch. I didn’t want to distract or disturb him, but didn’t want to be rude either, so we exchanged a few pleasantries:

Some might say that StumpTail is too small to serve as a proper guard lizard. Oh, ye of little faith! Have we seen one single Mongol horde or legion of Uruk-hai come through that door today? NO!

I say the results speak for themselves. All praise and honor to StumpTail!


Filed under Critters, Video

Video From The Back Forty

There were critters about, despite the heat!

This guy wasn’t so much scared as he was annoyed. He had been in a nice, sunny spot out on the back wall at the lip of the hill and when I had the gall to walk by in my own yard, he felt compelled to hop down, jump up onto the sidewalk, and glare at me. And I do mean “hop” and “jump” since he did both. I’m not sure I’ve seen other lizards do that, usually they just run and skitter and slink and scramble. But this guy I’ve seen jump several times, including twice today. He’s not much on height, so I’m not worried about him going for my throat, but he’s pretty good on distance.

These were the surprise of the day. They’re about 40% to 50% the size of the normal mourning doves, so I’m guessing their fledgelings. They didn’t fly away or even try to fly, but they also didn’t seem too upset about me being just a couple of feet away. I guess they missed that “OH GOD RUN FROM THE GIANT HUMANS!” lesson. I think that the nest is low to the ground in the hedges behind them that separate the yards, so I’m not surprised to see them here. I just hope one of the neighborhood feral cats or a hawk doesn’t see them as well.

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Filed under Birds, Critters, Video