Crescent Moon Sails Between Jupiter and Venus on the Ides of July

I need my head examined.  Why else would I suddenly sit up in bed and immediately head to a window in the darkest hour of the night, just to see if an astronomical conjunction was visible yet?  And that’s exactly what I did this morning, without the aid of an alarm clock.  Some internal portion of my brain must be tapped into some universal system (let’s hope it’s not that Dark Energy that’s making the cosmological headlines lately), because I woke up at 3:55 a.m. earlier today, just so I could photograph two planets, a star and a crescent moon.

A quick peak out my second story east facing window showed something bright glittering through my large oak tree’s leaves.  For a better look, I went out the front door and walked halfway down the driveway.  Yep, I could clearly see the crescent moon, Jupiter above, and Venus below, as well as the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus (although that was the only star I could see in that constellation with my blurry bleary sleepy eyes).

Eastern Horizon for Lansing, Kansas at 4:10 a.m. 7/15/2012 (courtesy Astronomy Magazine’s Star Dome Plus subscriber only java web applet).

I went back inside and grabbed my camera gear and the keys to the van.  I remembered my purse, since I planned to setup the tripod in the cul-de-sac in front of Lansing City Hall and the Police Department.  I’ve been questioned more than once by the local ‘protect and serve’ brigade while attempting astrophotography on their front lawn.

I took a couple of shots with the normal lens, but quickly determined I really needed the telephoto.  Once I switched the lenses, I could zoom in and capture just the four primary objects in one frame.  I took a half dozen photos before returning the gear to the van.  At least one police car did cruise by, but he probably didn’t see me ensconced in the dark dead end to his right as he turned left down the hill.

Once I got back home, I went back to bed.  Five hours later, I woke up and thought to look at the photos I’d taken while half asleep.  I settled on the second to last one I took.  Here is that photo (twice … once without labels and once with):



A Fiery End to an Extremely Hot Day

Sunset Saturday 14 July 2012
Sunset Saturday 14 July 2012 (click image for rest of album)

I can blame nobody but myself.  I gave up the opportunity to sit in an air conditioned smoke-free bar (Woody’s Watering Hole in Leavenworth), where I could have listened to my husband and his band buddies perform classic rock to support A Ride for the Wounded.  I could have supported a worthy cause through my presence and donations and had a great time with old friends.

But no, I thought I would have a better time with my co-workers at our firm’s summer event, where the beer, barbecue and baseball were all free.  And so was the scorching heat and unrelenting sunshine beating down on us on the unshaded Bud Light Party Deck in right field at the T-Bones stadium.

Sizzle greets Toni and Tracey
Sizzling on the Bud Light Party Deck

Since I don’t drink beer, I walked back down along the concourse to purchase a very tall and cold glass of lemonade. The bottle of water I’d gotten on the Party Deck with one of my two free drink tickets had been warm. I hung out with coworkers, many of them people I see everyday, Monday through Friday, in our small corner of the universe called IT. I ended up giving my other drink ticket to my of my female coworkers, but not before attempting to exchange it for something first (like another lemonade?).

I hardly noticed when the game started. The T-Bones played against the Wichita Wingnuts (who used to be known as the Wranglers when I lived there in the 80s and 90s, but that team name has since moved to Arkansas). Staring directly into the sun from right field and unable to clearly see the scoreboard behind my right shoulder, I completely missed the Wingnuts scoring a run in the second inning. I did notice multiple rookie errors on the part of the T-bones. The only scoring for the home team came with two home-runs (with no one on base). I gave myself a headache staring into the sun for nearly an hour, when it finally hid itself behind a thin cloud bank approaching from the northwest.

With no comfortable seating available on the Party Deck (and because I’d opted to take a ‘left over’ ticket for the firm’s summer event), I decided enough was enough and left the park during the bottom of the fifth inning. Five innings, two runs and five errors on the part of the T-bones.  The Wingnuts had no errors and two runs.  I could see where this game was heading.  As I walked to the van, I could tell the sunset was shaping up to be a fiery one (click first photo above for entire album).

After taking a few photos from West Mary Street, I returned home to discover the bass player’s car parked where I usually park the van. I thought that was odd, since it wasn’t even nine o’clock yet. I found Terry and Sean in the nearly empty band room, eating a late supper and reporting that the gig went extremely well. This perturbed me to no end. Since my home hosts most band practices for this group, I get exposed to the best and the worst of the amplified rock music. So I had a somewhat jaundiced view of this latest collection of musicians’ ability to pull it together.  Who knows, if I had attended, I probably would have jinxed the performance.  But it still would have been nice to sit in a cool air conditioned bar and drank something other than beer (or lemonade … unless it was Hard Lemonade) and listen to my husband sing Cumbersome (which he’s not).

Terry singing (and playing) Cumbersome (Sat 14 July 2012)