Category Archives: Weather

ISS Pass With Lightning!

That was a first!

I hope that some of you in LA got to see the nice ISS pass that I talked about last night. It was bright, it was long, it went almost from horizon to horizon, fairly near the zenith.

It was behind this:

(Image from NOAA Hi-Def Radar app)

But the green stuff hadn’t covered the blue dot yet, so hope springs infernal! Out I went with my tripod & gear!

Much as in the radar, clouds covered most of the sky. But not ALL of it – there was that little slice to the west-northwest where the ISS would be rising. And the lighting wasn’t continuous, nor was it close enough to actually hear the thunder yet, so standing out there in the open on top of the hill next to the trees and telephone poles wasn’t the stupidest thing I had done today!

And there it was!

I tried shooting this in portrait mode this time instead of landscape mode since the ISS was rising pretty much straight up. That part worked. I even remembered to focus! I still need to work on getting a slightly more stable tripod setup, since you can see where there was a slight shift twice.

But given the circumstances, I’m not unhappy with this result. I’ve seen (and photographed, for better or for worse) the ISS three times in two days. (No visible pass tomorrow, but there’s a so-so one on Sunday night, then nothing for a while.) And I didn’t get hit by lightning!

Now it sounds like the storm is here and that big orangish, reddish, angry looking blob is headed right towards us in the next fifteen to twenty minutes, so I’m going to go out on my front porch and enjoy (in safety) a bit of rogue Southern California weather. I might even do another Facebook Live if it gets to hopping and booming!

Leave a comment

Filed under Photography, Space, Weather

The Rain Missed Us

So far this stream of showers coming off the Pacific has missed our side of the LA area. (For those who haven’t been here, “the LA area” covers more square miles than several of the smaller states, so it’s not that uncommon.) That’s unfortunate, but it did leave some cotton candy skies while I was out in the back yard, serving a shift as Pilot In Command of the BBQ.

Low flying humming bird? High flying crow? Klingon bird of prey during orbital re-entry? It’s all a matter of perspective!

Leave a comment

Filed under Photography, Weather

Sunset From Anthony’s Deck

Meet your neighbors. Make friends.

The urban legend says that no one in LA knows ANY of their neighbors. This has a grain of truth to it – there were people who lived across the street from us for 27 years at the old house and I don’t know that I ever said two words to them and I most certainly didn’t know their names. On the other hand, the other five or six closest houses to us on the street as well as the folks who lived on the other side of the wall in the back were all at least casual acquaintances. We knew their names, we knew their dogs, if they were going out of town for the weekend we would keep an eye on their place and bring their trash cans up from the curb, and they would do the same for us.

Since we moved in May I’ve met several of our neighbors and I go out of my way to say hello, introduce myself, find out who they are, invite them over if they see the telescopes out in the front yard, and so on.

Tonight that paid off.

There are the remnants of a “small” hurricane to the south of us, streaming lots of moisture across Baja and into Arizona at the moment. That stream of rain and thunderstorms is shifting over us, so I figured there might be a decent sunset to look at. Fortunately, it came just as halftime started (where my beloved KC Chiefs were beating the Broncos to go 4-0) so I grabbed my camera and went out.

As I’ve mentioned, we’re at the top of the hill, on the side of the street where our back yard drops off to the east. To our west, there are a bunch of trees and lots of power lines.

Things were starting to look colorful – but trees, neighbors’ houses, etc. I wandered down the hill a couple of houses.

Back to the west, with all of these layers of clouds and the sun setting through the layers to the west, there were some interesting spots of color floating in a sky full of darker clouds.

As the sun started to get to the horizon and peek out from under the last layer of clouds…

…the colors started to get vivid near the horizon. But still, trees, antennas, neighbors’ houses. Better, not spectacular.

The pinkish mid-layers got even more pronounced.

One of the neighboring wives came out to leave and saw me, asked what I was taking pictures of. I told her – she called for her husband to come out. I had previously met Anthony and he told me I should come with him. They live on the other side of the street with the hill dropping away and giving a clear view to the west, and they’ve got a deck so that it’s a particularly spectacular view.

Down below in the gloaming are the West Hills Baseball fields where we spent so many hours with all of our kids. The central hill there we always called Castle Peak, primarily because it’s surrounded by Castle Peak Park.

Meet your neighbors. Make friends. One of them, like Anthony, might like sunsets just as much as you do, and they might have a great view of the western horizon.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Castle Willett, Los Angeles, Photography, Weather

Punt

Shit, it happened again. Busier than god all day at my paying job, come home and spend all evening busier than god at my non-paying job. All of a sudden it’s 23:44…

Drop back ten and punt, at least in the blogging, website, “NDIAD” (Not Dead In A Ditch) sort of way. (NDIAD is how my kids learned to report home when they were travelling or staying over at a friend’s house and wanted to let me know they had gotten home safely or whatever. It’s a Willett thing.)

Oh, and I got turned down for the latest NASA Social that I had applied for. SHAZBATT!! It would have been for the Mars InSight landing, held at JPL, and would have been really, REALLY cool! Which is no doubt why a ton of folks applied and those of us who don’t have 5,000 or 25,000 followers (or those of us who have already been to five) didn’t get picked.

How did your day go?

Oh, if you’re anywhere on the US eastern seaboard, please stay safe – it’s going to be a rough couple of weeks. Check in once in a while, that sort of thing.

It occurs to me that NDIAD can also stand for Not Drowned In A Ditch…

Leave a comment

Filed under Castle Willett, Paul, Weather

Smoke & Humidity

The Holy Fire may be 50+ miles away, but it kicked up today and we’re downwind. In addition, today was the hottest day of the week so far (the rental car I was driving said it was 110° at 14:15). Best of all, it was humid.

The humidity’s actually good, since it makes the brush somewhat harder to burn as the plants, grasses, brush, and trees absorb water. It also fills the skies with some nice popcorn clouds. Put it all together when I finally got out of the office, and it was spectacular.

I can’t rule out the possibility that I was staring into the wormhole as a starship emerged – but I’m pretty sure the odds favor it just being the sun, smoke to make it orangeish, and a bunch of puffy clouds running interference.

You’re right, this isn’t the new view from the new house. It’s the old view from the office parking garage roof.

I wish I could claim credit for getting the exposure just perfect here due to an amazing amount of skill! Nope, just got lucky. (No filters!)

1 Comment

Filed under Photography, Weather

Smoky Sunset

As you might have heard, California is burning. On the other hand, California’s a pretty big place, so there’s nothing burning particularly close to us, at least not right at this second.

The closest fire here is the Holy Fire, down on the Orange County / Riverside County border, fifty or sixty miles away. But we still got a bunch of that smoke drifting over tonight and I was hoping it might at least make for a spectacular sunset.

Meh.

I’m not saying that the view from the heat soaked front porch wasn’t nice, but it wasn’t a 10/10 sort of day, let alone “an eleven.”

I do love me some sunset silhouettes, though!

You can see the bands of smoke that had drifted to the west from the Holy Fire.

As the sun set you could see (click on the picture to blow it up to full size) little bright spots in the palm tree fronds as certain fronds caught the sunlight just right and reflected it in my direction.

Admittedly, a much better sunset than some of the completely cloudless, boring ones we’ve been having, but not an award winner.

There were some nice ripples in the cloud layer showing up as the sun got further over the horizon.

And that little dot out there just to the left of center (click to enlarge) is a 747 on its way into LAX from Singapore –> Hong Kong –> Anchorage. We see them out there like beads on a string, coming in from over the pole, down the coast until they’re off Malibu, then turning downwind over West LA, turning base over Dodger Stadium and Downtown LA, and then turning final into LAX.

This particular one was Singapore Airlines Flight #7972, at about 13,000 feet when I caught it, slowing down to 342 knots. How do I know?

There’s an app for that.

(Image from Flight Aware)

As I said, like beads on a string, another big jet off of Santa Monica about five minutes ahead of it, another just coming into Ventura County north of Santa Paula and Fillmore about five minutes behind it.

I hope the people on the starboard side of those flights had a nice view of the sunset!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Flying, Photography, Weather

Wispy Clouds Over Santa Clarita

We had a dedication event this afternoon out at the site where we’re building homes. While I was waiting for a few minutes, I noticed the wispy, high clouds and contrails over the roofs of the houses.

Simple – but not simplistic.

There is joy to be found in tiny, “normal,” beautiful things, such as wispy white clouds in a baby blue sky. Especially when there are so many tiny evils trying to nibble our spirits away in a death by a thousand bites, we can restore ourselves by recognizing the thousand healing bits of beauty around us.

Of course, if it’s incredibly stinking hot & miserable while you’re out there collecting your thousand bits o’ beauty, your mileage may vary!

Leave a comment

Filed under Homes4Families, Photography, Weather