Sunday, July 26, 2020

July 13-25, 2020 A Week+ with CometC2020F3 Neowise

What on earth did we just do?
I'm thinking out loud here when I say: "We experienced an "out-of this world" week.
The beautiful comet NEOWISE was here, paying us a visit as it traveled along it's 6800 year retrograde orbit of the sun. We took a few trips this past week, as well,  to say hello, just hanging out under the stars.
Comet chasing...
star gazing... 
staying up late at night...
cat-napping during the day...
meeting new friends... 
discussing the whys and hows of photographing a comet......
learning new things....
Comet NEOWISE dazzled the skies. One could see either with binoculars, or in many situations........VISIBLE to the naked eye.
***There have been 2 naked-eye "Great Comets" in the past 25 years (Hale-Bopp in 1997 and Comet McNaught in 2007. Several years ago, Comet ISON, known as C/2012 S1, was available for viewing through an equatorial mount tripod. I'll never forget that moment, at the Radford University Selu Conservancy., seeing and photographing this Comet. ***
My addiction fascination with the night sky began a few years ago when I first began my new hobby of photography. Oh the wonder! From the moon, to the Milky Way, to the stars, and beyond. A sense of peace from our worldly wows.
Photos did not compare to seeing NEOWISE with the naked eye.
What a thrill.
My first photo of the Comet C2020F3 (NEOWISE) was taken at Explore Park on the night of  July 13, 2020.

I wasn't as prepared as I thought I would be, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to see it. Thankfully other gazing admirers nearby, with a telescope, pointed to the comet location. 
I was hooked. 
It involved looking through binoculars first, then through my zoom lens. 
Clearly I would be going to higher elevation for darker skies soon. 
July 15, 2020, we ventured to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had done research on camera settings, lens to use, clear sky charts, night sky charts, and suitable viewing areas. We pack a nice picnic dinner, and set up our places at View Arnold Valley Overlook. The sunset was breathtaking, as was the view.

Who doesn't love a beautiful sunset? It's a magical moment that we all would love to cherish more often, but many of us never take the time to watch. Sunset are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully. Our attempts to photograph NEOWISE was a bust. The clouds were in the way of the comet, but none the less, our evening was restful. 
July 19, 2020. The skies were predicted to be clear. Instead of heading back to the Parkway, where thousands of photographers and stargazers were, we headed to Craig Co. No city lights made for a very dark sky. The thunderstorm from afar was an added treat. (not to mention the Milky Way)

A few million stars and Neowise strutted their stuff...... What a majestic view!
Nothing runs like a 'deere' except maybe a comet! What a sight! You can almost see the double tail on the comet!
July 20, 2020...... my addiction for following the comet continued. My body was tired from lack of sleep, but my soul searched for that moving object in the night sky....... off the front porch, before going to bed. (ObviouslyπŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡ not the dark skies needed to see the billion stars in addition to the comet)
On Saturday night, July 25, 2020, we were able to catch a very dim glimpse of Comet C/2020 FE (NEOWISE). The comet had started moving away. It reached its peak brightness the previous week. The nights have been late since July 13th, and the skies have not always been clear enough to see the comet. But being outdoors at night, looking up at the stars, makes you realize there are more important things than what people do all day!
"...........but this rock is as wide as Manhattan blowing by our planet at 150,000 miles per hour that's making the night sky look like something out of Fantasia. That's undeniably cool. Nobody knows when it will happen again. It's been a front-row seat to a limited run show put on by one of the more mysterious types of objects in our solar system....." 
The view here ☝☝☝ is from Harvey's Knob Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway. (MP95.3). The white glow on the left side is the light from the bright moon, which made viewing the comet a challenge. 
Our time of comet gazing has come to an end. "Sayonara Neowise"

Sunday, July 12, 2020

July 12, 2020 Garden Update

The month of July promises to be ABUNDANT!
You bet!
Nothing beats a morning or afternoon stroll through the rows, picking the produce.
Yesterday Ron picked his first crop of green beans.
Urban gardening is rewarding.
Watching the combined efforts of hard work, watering, and sunlight is an event to be experienced.
(My hat is off to the farmers who grow and sell produce for their livelihood.)
This year we are trying a few new items, in addition to our tried-and-true favorites:
Italian tomatoes πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡
 And  Habanero Peppers πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡
Both of these promise to be great additions to Italian dishes/sauces, and can be frozen for later use.
We have already picked our first of MANY green pepper..............YUMMY!
Soon these Jalapeno Peppers will be ready to harvest!πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡
Oh my........ the cucumbers...... I love to watch the curly tentacles that come off of these plants. They are kinda neat to photograph as wellπŸ’“πŸ’“πŸ’“

Yep, there are lots of bright yellow blooms....... just waiting to develop into baby cukes!
Not to be overlooked are bugs! Most are harmless, but do your research to see which ones will eat your produce. This cute little catepillar is pretty harmless!
Summer gardens are fun.
They grow quickly.
It is difficult to leave a summer garden for an extended amount of time, unless you have someone to water, pick, weed, and 'ohh and ahh' over πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹.
I wrote about our Butternut Squash here πŸ‘‰πŸ‘‰πŸ‘‰ BUTTERNUT SQUASH CURLS (which by the way is starting to take over an entire corner of our garden!)
As of today, we have ONE butternut squash that is clinging to the vine! It will be interesting to see the final size and weight! πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡

The lettuce is almost history.
Our herbs are flourishing.
So far, there are no visable figs on our trees......but maybe this week.
Until next time.............. HAPPY GARDENING! πŸ…

Saturday, July 4, 2020

July4, 2020 Full Buck Moon Rising up Mill Mountain.

Cheers to another 4th of July celebration.
Who could have asked for anything more:
a clear night sky.........
a full moonπŸŒ•.....
the Roanoke Star lit in Red, White, and Blue πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯
We traditionally gather to celebrate with fireworks at Rivers Edge, but this year most all of the official events were cancelled. 
Without a doubt, I have a fascination with the moon.
I adore watching it in the night sky.
Obviously, I love photographing it as well.
With camera gear in hand, we headed to Jefferson Street Bridge'
We checked the Moon apps to clarify the time for the moon rise.
We set up tripods and waited. The time of capture here πŸ‘‡ was 7:53PM
As darkness fell, the glow of the moon began to appear on the side of Mill Mountain.
Capture time: 8:15PM
Photo taken at 8:15PM
 Because this was my first attempt at actually following the moon up the mountain, I kinda thought the moon would rise straight up.........WRONG.
The Buck Moon 'crawled' up the side of Mill Mountain, before making its appearance.
Photo taken at 8:30PM
We were privy to some added fireworks πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯
The 'Crawl' up the mountain was to beatiful to watch........ and exciting to capture on my camera.
The occasional firework display seemed insignificant compared to the brilliance of the moon.

Photo taken at 8:38PM

"How beautiful is the relationship between the moon and the dark night sky. So contrasting, yet so incomplete without the other."
The last photo above ☝ was taken at 8:48PM. 
You can see the fullness of the moon through the trees!
The closer to the top of the mountain the moon appeared to climb, the more excited I became.
It reached the top, and started it's 'move' to the right. Photo below taken at 8:59PM
My heart was in my throat!
The journey to the Star began to accelerate.
The moon had reached the Star.πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡ (Photo taken at 9:04PM)
This one shot at 9:06PM (Probably my favorite) πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’
All of the photos are SINGLE SHOT. (no photoshopping). 
Did you know that the moon travels around the earth?
***** The moon orbits the earth once every 27.322 days. It also takes approximately 27 days for the moon to rotate once on its axis. As a result, the moon does not seem to be spinning but appears to observers from earth to be keeping almost perfectly still.*****
Do you want to know how fast the moon travels around the earth?
*******The moon orbits earth at a speed of 2,299 miles per hour. During this time it travels a distance of 1,423,000 miles.*****
This one taken at 9:07PM πŸ‘‡ (also a favorite)
These last 2 were taken at 9:09PM. and 9:12PM.πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡
"I love you to the moon and back."πŸ’“
Well, off she goes.....
Happy 4th of July, 2020
Kate Smith wrote the following lyrics. The song was published in 1931:
When the moon comes over the mountain
Every beam brings a dream, dear, of you
Once again we'll stroll 'neath the mountain
Through that rose-covered valley we knew
Each day is grey and dreary
But the night is bright and cheery
When the moon comes over the mountain
I'll be alone with my memories of you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

July 1, 2020 GARDEN...Butternut Squash Curls and Spirals

Nothing tastes quite like:
Simple Roasted Butternut Squash....
Caramelized Butternut Squash....
Curried Butternut Squash soup.....
OK..... my mouth is watering already!
Would you believe that this particular butternut squash began in the winter of 2016😲.
What a history!
One squash was purchased and cooked.
The seeds were saved, dried, and planted in the spring.
The squash produced.
We ate.
And again we saved, dried, and planted the seeds  the following spring.
The seeds sprout up easily in the ground.
And then they crawl.........
on the ground,
on the wire fence,
on the grass.
Nothing stops them.
It is fascinating to watch the entire process, especially the curls and spirals.

Mother Nature knows precisely why they grab so tightly!
The WEIGHT and SIZE of the flowers and fruits of the butternut squash are at least twice the size of other squash.
Here is the blog from July 25, 2016⇒⇒⇒Beware of the Crawling Butternut Squash.
A few buds are beginning to appear. 
For now, lots of curls and spirals are preparing for the weight of the squash!
The Butternut Squash has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin.
Butternut squash cubes freeze like a champ!
It's a potent source of vitamin A, has a low glycemic index, and makes a smart addition to any healthy meal plan.
Look out July! We are gonna have thisπŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡
Photo taken July 25, 2016
By the way.......... have you looked lately at the grocery store to price these jewels?
While the price may appear insignificant...........
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚........ you do the math! That's right! $12.00 for this Butternut squash!