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Denali in Winter

We thank you for your support and encouragement.

Please be considerate of others

When you pull up and stop to view the Northern Lights, please do not do as this person.

Once you park, turn off your lights

Once you park, turn off your lights

There is absolutely no reason for this. Once you have put the vehicle in park, shutdown your lights. If you can not run the engine / heater in your car without the lights being on, please go somewhere else and don’t spoil the dark skies for others. The driver in the above vehicle sat for two hours without moving. Motor running, lights on, nobody home.

And for those of you who just don’t “get it”. No one is saying you should turn out your lights while moving. Only a fool would think that.


Imaging PanSTARRS has proven to be difficult for me. I was out three nights in a row in the attempt. We finally had a break in the weather here and I wanted to see if I could get a decent image.

PanSTARRS over Alaska

PanSTARRS over Alaska

The first night I shot in aperture priority as I do with Aurora. I used two full frame cameras that have a high ISO range. Set up one was a Nikon D700 coupled to a Noct-Nikkor 58mm ƒ/1.2 manual focus lens. Set up two was a Nikon D3s coupled to a Nikkor 500mm ƒ/4 P ED IF manual focus lens. Both rigs were on tripods with a cable release.

I did get some nice sunset images with the Noct.

Sunset over the Inlet

Sunset over the Inlet

A bit after sunset, we spotted what we believe was the comet. But the images were not conclusive as they lacked sufficient sharpness and resolution.

Is it or is it not?

Is it or is it not?

On the next night, we shot several frames of what we believed to be the comet only to decide after much reflection that we were looking at a stray wisp of cloud or contrail. Based on the previous night, I changed the equipment to a D3s with the AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm ƒ/4-5.6D ED and a D300 (crop sensor) paired with the Nikkor 500mm ƒ/4 P ED IF and 1.4x Kenko TelePlus to give me an effective focal length of just over 1000mm. I wanted to catch the comet as large in the frame as I could. I also switched from aperture priority to shutter priority.

A fake comet

A fake comet

But I did get a nice sliver of the Moon.

About as new a Moon as you can get.

About as new a Moon as you can get.

Determined to get a halfway decent image, I was back out last night 3-13-13 while the clear skies held. There was a bit of a wind blowing sending the windchill down to the basement but I remained as long as I needed. I used the same setups as the previous night but in manual mode. I was never able to see the comet by eye or through the lens. It was only after I uploaded the images and opened them on the 27 inch screen that I was able to find it. It never showed in any of the long lens images only the 300mm

That image is definitely PanSTARRS and while not as good as I had hoped, it was not bad for a first try at a comet. Come on ISON !!

PanSTARRS over Alaska

PanSTARRS over Alaska

Boogity Boogity Boogity Let’s Go Racing

It’s time for the long distance dog sled classic. The Iditarod 2013. 66 teams left downtown Anchorage bound for Nome Alaska about 1000 miles away.

Sunday morning 65 teams set out at the race restart at Willow. One team scratched at Campbell Airstrip before leaving Anchorage.

It's time for the 2013 Iditarod Dog Sled Race from Anchorage to Nome

It’s time for the 2013 Iditarod Dog Sled Race from Anchorage to Nome

Aurora can be fickle

Supposedly, we are at the peak of the 11 solar cycle. This would indicate that we should be seeing frequent and, not to mention, large Aurora displays.

The reality is that there has not been a decent show in Alaska for several weeks. Given the cost of fuel and the distance involved in getting to a good viewing area, I am unable to get excited over a report of a faint show.

While waiting for Aurora to make her showing, I am linking to an image from March 9, 2011. That night was one of the best I have ever seen. The lights began early just after dark and continued until 4:00 am or later. It was exhausting.

March 9 Aurora storm

If you click on the image, you will go to the complete gallery from that night.

Thank you

For Space Junkies : A Day at Kennedy Space Center

During our recent trip to the Caribbean we spent a day touring Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

The Hurricane Sandy was heading north to New York just off shore so it was windy and rainy. This prevented the tour operators from letting us out at Pad 39a. Most disappointing as this would be one of the few times in my life that we were right at the launch pad.

We were able to get up close and personal with the shuttle Atlantis in the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building). The VAB is still the largest building in the world.

Atlantis in the VAB

Click to see more of the KSC.