Being the extreme storm chaser and landscape astro-photographer that I am, I couldn’t resist the rare opportunity to photograph such a tragic loss with our night sky. This Hurricane was different because instead of me going after it, Hurricane Sandy decided to come to me. I received a direct impact from Hurricane Sandy with heavy rains and very strong winds.  Most people associate Hurricane’s with the lower gulf states and the barrier islands of North Carolina, it was only a matter of time that a large system to would wreak havoc on the mid-atlantic and northeastern US. I spent several nights on the sand at the Seaside Heights Rollercoaster since Late October 2012, and have captured many dramatic images of the destruction for the last several months. It’s given me plenty of time to really take it what exactly happen here and how long the road for recovery is really going to be. So many people have lost so much, but in the end, we still stand tall,  just like the Jet-Star Rollercoaster.

The Jet-Star Roller coaster in Seaside Heights, NJ gainst a startrailed background and a meteor!

The Jet-Star Roller coaster in Seaside Heights, NJ against a star filled background and a meteor!

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(ATREX) Mission:Night Shinning Tracer Clouds over the East Coast, Thanks NASA!

(ATREX) Mission Chemical Tracers - March 27th, 2012 @ 5:13am

(ATREX) Mission : Chemical Tracers - March 27th, 2012 @ 5:13am

After weeks of delays from Mother Nature it happen….. 5 rockets in 5 minutes!  The launch began just before 5am starting a onslought of rockets and chemical trails in the upper most part of our atmosphere. I spent a lot of time driving around and staying up late at night the last couple of weeks, it all paid off this morning with a successful launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. I didn’t have the time this week like last week, so I couldn’t make another 400 mile roundtrip, over-nighter this week. I had some great spots less than 20  miles from the Wallops Flight Facility I “scouted” in earlier weeks…like the photo below.

ATREX Launch attempt Location 3

ATREX Launch attempt Location 3

On earlier launch attempts I had traveled hundreds of miles to get into great locations within 20 miles from Wallops Island. This was my “secret” spot that I had planned to photograph the launch from. If it wasn’t for a boat, I would have had it last Friday morning, but luck wasn’t on my side that night. Imagine this picture with  glowing eerie clouds piercing through  the sky in the early hours before dawn. I can’t help but to beat myself up, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  I am just happy that I was able be a witness to the spectacle.  Here are some other shots from some failed attempts as well as a few more from this morning.

18 miles from Wallops Island, last Friday morning,

 ARTEX Dolphins

 It was a great ride the last 2 weeks and I can’t wait for another launch.. I hope next time NASA launches 12 rockets in 12 minutes! Keep your eyes to the sky, you never know what you may find. 


Keeping Your Head Up

Random Meteor - March 2012

Random Meteor - March 2012

I drove 3 hours, about (180 miles) to view the launch attempt at Wallops Flight facility in Virginia, Thursday night, March 22/23, 2012. Weather has been insane across much of the country, but this night seemed worth the trip. With clearing in the forecast, I left Pennsylvania around 8:45pm and arrived on Assateague Island National Seashore around midnight. The weather was perfect for the first 45 minute’s, then some clouds started to pass through. I really wanted this to happen after driving a good distance, but as the skies cleared another issue came up and the launch was cancelled. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me, but I made the best out of the trip. I continued to shoot through the night working on some personal projects. I started to see a few meteors  fall from the same location in the sky.  I ended up catching this falling star between the clouds in the early hours of Friday morning. Seeing a few meteors really made the trip worth it, and catching one on “film” made it even better. New meteor shower discovered?  The point is you can predict all you want, but there will always be unseen issues and surprises along the way, and you won’t know what they will be until you put yourself out there. I plan to capture the mega launch of 5 rockets in 5 minutes again this week.  The skies will be clear as weather patterns are shifting, bringing in a new wind. Lets hope that the ” planets will align” this week and give us what everyone has been waiting for!

WARNING! Sunset Sky Show Tonight!

Sunset Sky Show -  The Crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter

Sunset Sky Show - The Crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter

For the second night in a row we will be able to witness a Celestial Triangle in the western skies around sunset.  Tonight, (Feb. 26th, 2012)  the Moon and Jupiter will be near to each other with Venus shinning bright just below them. The clouds and 50 mph wind gusts last night worried me some,  but the weather worked out perfectly. The clouds actually added a little flavor to this photo.
Where should you look tonight?
Look to the west just after sunset and you will see the “trio” piercing the sunset colors.  The best time is to check it out is 15 – 30 minutes after sunset.  The ambient light is much lower making the objects really stand out.
**UPDATE**   –      February 26th, 2012   –   “THE REUNION”
I decided to head out again Sunday night for a follow up appointment with the celestial triangle. I did some time lapse photography and still last night. The video will be available shortly. Here is a photo from the “firepit” last night.  The exposure is a couple hours long. Note all of the air-traffic.
Firepit and Celestial Triangle


Jeff Berkes Photography just got a drastic overhaul on the website! New and improved galleries make viewing all  galleries faster and more enjoyable!

Whats new with the website?

Well, just about everything! The entire format has changed, litterally. The “image collection” has a brand new format with large thumbnails. Click on any thumbnail to enlarge it, see captions and descriptions for each image, click on that image again to return to the thumbnail gallery, simple right?

 The “Photo Tours” page has up to date information on 2012 workshops! As of now there are two (2) Nighttime / Meteor Shower Workshops planned for 2012, with others being added in this Spring. The “Exploring America”  Photo Tour page  has two (2) Adventures planned for August and September, one visiting Arches, Canyonlands National Parks, as well as Deadhorse State Park.  The other Tour will be in Yellowstone National Park – Geysers, Landscape and Wildlife.

Hope you enjoy the new design!  If you happen to find any errors please inform us, so we can fix any issue asap! Thanks in advance.. Feedback is always much appreciated!

Major Winter Storm this Weekend?

Winter has been hard to find across the US this year. That may change this weekend as a possible Nor’Easter is on the horizon. As always, there are a few factors that play into this.. #1. Will the two storms collide and explode, #2 – Will there be enough cold air in place to support snow, # 3 –  The storm Track.  Here are the visuals curiosity of The Weather Channel.

The Ingredients for the Storm are here –

The southern and northern storms need to combine “Phase” over the lower US and ride up the coast.  The Low(s) will rapidly intensify (bombing out) creating one mega snowstorm for parts of the Northeast.

Scenario #1 – The main LP explodes in the mid-atlantic and northeast, moving up into New England.

The southern tier storms could turn north along the coast and combine with the northern tier storm, creating a full-blown blizzard.

Scenario #2

Depending if the Storm tracks north or not is one thing. The other is the exact storm track. How far inland is the low? Does it graze the coast? is it 40 miles off the coast? This decides where there will be enough cold air to support snow. South /East of the Low Pressure (LP) will see rain. North and east of the Low Pressure will see the heavy snow and often thundersnow.

Scenario #3 –  If the southern storm moves east and out to sea.. There would be no storm at that point. We need the energy of these two systems to combine and explode up the coast and we would need the storm to stay just off the coast, keeping the “Snow line” east of the I-95 corridor.

With that in Mind –

The possibilities are here and you should keep an eye on this for the next couple of days. You remember all the snow in the northeast the last couple of years including “Snowmageddon”, right? Scenario #1 is needed for a big snowstorm. We won’t know until around Saturday what will happen with this storm. I wish for a powerhouse nor’easter every year, so I want it to snow like there is no tomorrow. But time will tell. So many things need to happen in order for an epic storm to form. We know all to well that these storms are a staple for winter in the Northeastern US, now I am “wishing / hoping” we get “the Blizzard of 2012”

Snowstorms of the Past.

Deadly Snowstorm of  March 1993.

(Above) This could be Scenario #1 – Winter storms should never be taken lightly. Mother Nature should NEVER be taken lightly.

Pictures from recent Blizzards –

New Jersey 2010.

New Jersey 2010. Pennsylvania - February 2010 Christmas Storm 2010.


Snowmageddon - Southeastern Pennsylvania

Snowmageddon - Southeastern Pennsylvania

Nor'Easter Camping

Nor'Easter CampingA lot of people call me crazy, but to me, it's just like waking up and drinking coffee (and I do not drink coffee). I live for weather like this. I have camped in blizzards with my 4 season tent (as shown) where my tent has had 35" of snow on it and 60mph wind gusts blasts the walls of my shelter, temperatures in the teens with wind chills way below zero. For me it's all about the experience and just being out in the worst weather mother nature has to offer, I take the pictures so I can reflect on my adventures and share them with everyone who well... doesn't have that interest in braving the elements. Winter's Wrath

Snow on the Coast

Snow on the Coast32" of snow and 50-60mph winds gusts created unique drifts, in some unusual spots. Snowmageddon - West Chester , PA

Snowmageddon - West Chester , PA

Snowmageddon - West Chester , PA

A couple of college students venture out into the blizzard to get some coffee. What does this photo make you think of?
Ice Night

Ice Night

 Freezing rain gathers on anything it come in contact with.
Snowmageddon 2009

Snowmageddon 2009

 Keep your eyes on the TWC and local new stations as we watch these storms move across the US.