Monday, September 27, 2010



After weeks of waiting and whining, we finally got a little snow. For the last three or four days, my morning walk to school has been a little crunchier, a little whiter, and I'm loving it! Even the lake and river are showing signs of freeze-up. Maybe fall ice fishing will commence on time after all.

Another long-awaited event (at least for me) occurred just last night. The clouds finally parted momentarily and I was able to catch a brief glimpse of Jupiter and its moons! I wasn't sure I'd be able to see anything. I don't have a powerful telescope at my disposal, but I do have some nifty (and gargantuan) binoculars.

My astro-binos in moonlight.

Jupiter was easy enough to see with the naked eye, but I could only see the moons through my binoculars and (surprisingly) through my camera.

Catching sight of this very cool cluster made the cold legs and frozen fingers completely worth it!

Wind from the WSW (250 degrees) at 13 MPH (11 KT)
Visibility 10 mile(s)
Sky conditions mostly clear
Temperature 19.0 F (-7.2 C)
Windchill 6 F (-14 C)
Dew Point 17.1 F (-8.3 C)
Relative Humidity 91%

Jupiter...barely there.

I know this is not impressive photography. I wasn't really expecting to get great pictures, but I thought it couldn't hurt to try.

I had no tripod and just set my Sony DSC-H50 on ISO. I know there are probably settings that I could have used to get better photos, but I am admitting complete ignorance here. I have not read my owner's manual and have not experimented with settings much.

And still, my little camera does the best it can do under the circumstances. (Great little camera that it is).

This was the best shot I could get without a tripod (I held my breath a lot).

Jupiter and moons (the best my camera can do).

And this is a cropped view of the same shot. It's not pretty, I know, but it (not-so-clearly) shows Jupiter with two moons on the right and one on the far left. I think I saw three moons on the right through my binos, but I can't be completely sure because...well...I'm fairly ignorant of astronomy too.

Jupiter and moons (cropped photo).

I'm still happy. I saw Jupiter...and it's moons....more than I've ever seen before.

And there's fresh snow on the ground!

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010



Even today, a glorious, blue-sky morning bursting with sunshine and windswept clouds tinged pink and gold, the first morning in over a month possessing the faintest hint of fall, even today the air is thick and heavy and wet.


It is yet another in a long string of days laden with the bane of my existence, one hundred percent humidity. As I walk to school each morning, I feel the oppressive weight of it as I breathe in and out. It clings to my skin and clothes and every other available surface. I won’t even mention what a snarling tangle it makes of my hair.



There should be frost on the berries, but instead they’re just wet, wet, wet. Everything is wet and dripping and has been for weeks. September usually brings our first substantial snowfall. Sometimes it melts away, but more often it remains, white powder piled up on fresh sheaths of ice skinning the surfaces of ponds and lakes and eventually the river...just the way I like it.


I know this isn’t much to complain about while Southern regions are still scorching (and plenty humid as well), but…this just isn’t right. It’s not the Arctic autumn that I know and love.

Students have been asking, “Man, when’s it ever gonna get cold?”

I shrug sympathetically and admit that I’m wondering the same thing. I remind them that break-up came late this year, that the river ice didn’t go out until the middle of June and most of the summer was cloudy and cold. August brought lots of rain ensuring muddy boots and juicy berries. The seasons seem to have shifted a bit, abandoning the predictable timing of things that some of us so obviously crave.


September’s chill usually brings dryness. Humidity, trapped as frost or snow, crunches underfoot and leaves the air so fresh and crisp that it seems to snap. It’s something I look forward to—a lot. This year is just different. For now, first frost is still an elusive prospect as we wade through day after day of thick humid air...


...and more wet.