2012 Lyrid Meteor Shower: A Look Back

Meadow In The Sky

I found myself at 3,500ft in elevation with crystal clear skies on Friday April 20th, 2012. Being “Park Week”, I had no choice but to visit a long time friend of mine; Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. With the forecast looking poor during the peak activity, I arrived a couple of days early to  maximize my chances at a clear night. The first night was clear, but the dew point was causing issues with creating tons of condensation, which formed on everything. Things got a little hairy at point when a black bear approached us at 11pm in the pitch dark. I didn’t realize he was there until I heard a stick break and then noticed the bear 50 feet away. He growled and made noises, but kept on moving towards the east with no issues at all.

Sunset was even a pleasant palette of pastel colors in the western skies facing West Virginia

Valley View

Shenandoah Celebrated it’s 75 year anniversary last year as I celebrated my 12th year there at the highest Point in the Park, Hawksbill Mountain

Self Portrait - Hawksbill Mountain

Rain water created tiny pools of water along the highest cliffs in the park

Cliff Water

The second night there wasn’t a problem with condensation forming on my gear because we had gusty winds near 40mph or higher along the ridge preventing that from happening. The sturdy tripod made all the difference this night taking the stronger winds. Keeping the tripod low to the ground increases the stability. A steady rain, followed by 6″ of snow blocked any chance of observations for the “peak night”.  But the night before offered some gorgeous views of the heavens.

2012 Lyrid Meteor

 

The TOP photo is featured on MSN Photo Blog.. Check it out here.  http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/27/11434037-looking-back-at-the-lyrids

2012 is a great year for meteor showers unlike 2011. The next “major shower” is May 4/5, but the full moon block out all but the brightest meteors.

 

 

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Colors of Autumn are Coming!

 

As August fades, and September’s cooler temperatures settle in, the leaves begin the final stages of their lives. We are all often in awe when the leaves change from a  lush green to a vibrant yellow, orange or red. It often raises questions such as, “Why do leaves change color in autumn?  Why do some trees turn yellow, orange and others red? How come the color varies in intensity from year to year?” Well what if I said the leaves are always yellow and orange and the green just covers it all up? It is true, these colors exist in the leaves all year and are covered up by the green chlorophyll.

 

The Fall Leaf Cycle starts at the end of summer with the shortening of the days and cooler nights. At that point, the trees do not receive enough light to produce food for themselves, and the production of chlorophyll is haulted.  Some trees that turn fire engine red, like a Maple ,

have glucose trapped inside it. A combination of sunlight, shade, and the cold nights help turn the glucose into this red color we see.  I have seen some of the most spectacular colors of my life in New England and along the Appalachian Trail. Shenandoah National Park offers some of the best vistas and hiking trails in the East! 

This picture was published in Popular Photography and Imaging Magazine October 2008. Itwas taken in Shenandoah National Park during a weekend camping expedition.

 

During the Winter, the tree will loose  it’s leaves so it can survive the harsh season ahead. My Autumn usually begins around the second week of September. The weather patterns seem to change and cooler air is filtered down like clockwork making beautiful fog-filled scenes at sunrise and sunset. Like this..

or this…

or this…

Even this morning, I was blessed with some nice low-lying fog and a beautiful  morning sun halo.

You are not just limited to photographing leaves and trees, you can also photograph activities that take place during this season, or incorporate them into your shot.

Riding Harley Davidson’s in New England.

 or fishing in Vermont..

Maybe all you need is a little good luck this fall!

I love taking hikes through Ricketts Glenn State Park in Pennsylvania! You can see so many beautiful waterfalls and thick forests filled with photo ops!

Check out the Green Mountains of Vermont!

FORCES OF NATURE: Volcanoes (Hawaii)

The Big Island of Hawaii is a place where new earth is created and taken away on a daily basis. On this island you will encounter several ecosystems and microclimates. A microclimate is the climate of a small, specific place within a larger area. Places such as your back yard, National Parks, or Islands can have many microclimates depending on the sunlight, shade, altitude, exposure to the wind, or lack there of etc. I remember one day sweating in 90 degree heat, with little wind, while photographing a cactus on the west side of the island. Later that day, I was in an Arctic Parka over 13,000ft with  40mph winds, making it feel like 15 degrees. The big island still remains a wilderness and depending on where you are traveling and how far your ambitions for adventure take you, it is possible you may never leave this island. 

Here are some photos from the Big Island of Hawaii. 

Puʻu ʻŌʻō (often written Puu Oo), pronounced “poo-oo oh-oh”, a cinder / spatter cone, is located on the eastern rift zone of the Kilahuea Volcano. Puʻu ʻŌʻō has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1983, making it the longest lived rift-zone eruption of the last two centuries.

Saddle Road / Route 200 traverses the width of the Island of Hawaii, from downtown Hilo (East) to its junction with Hawaii Route 190 near Waimea (west). In May of 1849, G.Judd proposed building a road between these two populated areas. After 10 years,  12 miles of road was completed. The eruption of Mauna Loa in 1859 caused the workers to abandon the site. In the wake of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the U.S Army built a poor access road in 1943 strictly for military vehicles of all kinds. After WW II the government handed over the road, which was eventually renamed Rt.200. The last lava flow that covered Saddle Road was  in 1984 when the Mauna Loa eruption was triggered from an eruption at Kilahuea.

In the photo above: You can see the newly paved (in spots) Saddle Road from it’s most recent lava flow. Mauna Loa continues to erupt every 8-10 years, and is due for another eruption any day now.

I probably saw at least 50 rainbows in Hawaii during my 2 week stay on 3 islands. I am standing in a desert lava field when I took this photo.  The rainbow marks the spot of another microclimate.

Mauna Kea is a dormant shield volcano, and if measured from it’s oceanic base, Mauna Kea is over 33,000 feet tall, much higher than Mount Everest. Mauna Kea is over 13,700 above sea level. In Hawiian mythology, some say the peaks of the island of Hawai’i are sacred, and Mauna Kea is the most sacred one of all. Mauna  Ancient Hawaiian law allowed only high-ranking tribal chiefs to visit it’s peaks. Today some people seem to disregard that law. In this photo you don’t see a mountain in the background, it’s the shadow of Mauna Kea as the sun sets in the West. Talking about shadows of Mountains… try living in this one. With little oxygen at its summit, unhealthy, overweight, and people that have been scuba diving within 24 hours are advised to find another adventure.

Mauna Kea’s summit is one of the best sites in the world for astronomy because of its high altitude, dry environment, and stable airflow. The access road to the summit was completed in 1964 and since then thirteen telescopes funded by eleven countries have been constructed at the summit.

Astronomers of all levels converge on the slopes of Mauna Kea to catch a glimpse of our universe from an unparallel location.

This Lava flow was the first to have burned down a home on the island in over a decade.  The flow started at the end of July 2010 amd was heading east towards the Kalapana Gardens subdivision. More than one house was burned to the ground including a church. This is the biggest Lava flow they have seen in ages! Timing is everything.

The Puhi-o-Kalaikini ocean entry, which is almost 1 km (0.8 mi) long, continues to feed the ocean after first reaching the pacific in July 2010. This photo is taken from a boat about 15feet or less from the actual entry point. I must admit it was hot, steamy, and a hell of a good time… most likely the most insane thing ever! Strong sulfur dioxide odors can be found in the plumes from both ocean entry and the Kilauea Caldera. Sulfur dioxie fumes may reach such dangerous levels that the National Park, which sits in the middle of it all, will close and evacuations are put into place.

 Kilahuea Caldera, Milkyway, and a Perseid Meteor. Taken during the Perseid Meteor shower in August 2010.

Hope you enjoyed some of my photos! I know I enjoyed creating them!

*Some facts and information found at wikipedia