Eclipse of the Moon!

Moon Before Lunar Eclipse

Peak Totality of Lunar Eclipse

Last night (Sunday), January 20, we watched the “Super Blood Wolf Moon” Eclipse. It was stunning!   It was “Super” because the moon was passing Earth at its closest point in orbit, so it appeared bigger and brighter than usual.  It was a “Blood” moon because it turned coppery-red during the eclipse.  And it was a “Wolf” moon because in January the moon is associated with increased wolf activity and howling.

It was a crystal-clear evening here in Florida and the sky was full of stars.  The eclipse began at 10:34 pm EST, totality started at 11:41 pm, and the peak coppery-red color appeared at 12:10 am.  What a beautiful sight!  The next total lunar eclipse will not be visible in the United States until 2022.

Arizona: Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater Overview

Visitor Lookout Platform

Meteor Crater Panorama

Shaded Seating

Blasted Rock

Moon Mountain Telescope to View Crater

Apollo Test Capsule

Meteor Crater T-Shirt

Meteor Crater is the “World’s Best Preserved and First Proven” meteor crater on Earth.  It is nearly 1 mile across and 550 feet deep.  About 50,000 years ago an asteroid raced through the atmosphere at 26,000 miles per hour and slammed into the Earth with the force of 20 million tons of TNT.  The iron-nickel meteor is estimated to have weighed several hundred thousand tons and measured 150 feet in diameter.  Since no large core has ever been found at the base of the crater, scientists think the meteor was blasted to bits by the impact.  Since the landscape is so moon-like, NASA trained Apollo astronauts at the site in the 1960s and 1970s, and it continues to be a field trip for astronauts today.

If you would like to visit and see the crater from an overlook, it is an easy stop on your way off I-40 between Petrified Forest National Park and Winslow/Flagstaff, Arizona.  More info is at:

UPDATE April 2020:  Conde Nast Traveller voted Meteor Crater one of the “7 Wonders of the World for 2020”:

Florida: Spectacular Solar Probe Launch!

Launch of Parker Solar Probe (click to enlarge)

Image of Sun Taken with Solar Filter

We had a beautiful launch of NASA’s new Parker Solar Probe last night.  Only a few hardy souls managed to be up watching at 3:31 am for the second night in a row (first night was scrubbed).  Nevertheless it was spectacular!  The night was very humid with heavy water vapor in the air.  Can’t wait to see what discoveries will be made about the sun!  As a bonus, I saw a Perseid meteor streak by below the arc of the launch.  Wow!  Read about the solar probe at:

Arizona: Monument Valley

Spectacular Sunrise over the Left and Right Mitten Buttes

Classic Monument Valley View

Rider on Horse at John Ford’s Lookout Point

Three Sisters Spires

Big Hogan Rock Formation

The Thumb Stands Out

Tree Silhouette at Moccasin Arch

Antelope Petroglyphs

Milky Way and Meteor

Sunrise on Another Beautiful Day at Monument Valley

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a very scenic location in Utah.  It was a place we visited years ago on our first vacation together with our very first camera, and we’ve never forgotten it.  We returned to see it again last April and it was even better the second time around.  Many classic westerns were filmed in the area including John Wayne in The Searchers, plus also Stagecoach, Back to the Future III, Forrest Gump, The Wind Talkers, and Winged Migration among others.  We took a Navajo guided tour by Phillips Photography to see the park and also to photograph the Milky Way and sunrise.  Can’t wait to go back!

We filmed the short timelapse movie below at sunset from our room at “The View” Hotel.

Florida: Epic SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch!

Author Pam with Bill Nye “The Science Guy”

Apollo / Saturn V Center

Space Shuttle Runway

Commemorative Launch Brochure

3-2-1 Ignition Take-off

Falcon Heavy Launch into Space

Close-up of SpaceX Rocket

Twin Side Boosters Returning to Earth

SpaceX Tweeted Photo of Tesla Roadster in Space

On Tuesday I watched an epic SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  It was incredible!   I had purchased the “Feel the Heat” package to view liftoff from the closest public viewpoint at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at KSC (only 3.9 miles from launch pad 39A across the Banana River).  We could hear and feel the rumble of takeoff when the engines ignited and everyone wildly cheered!

While we waited in the viewing stands, we were entertained by Bill Nye “The Science Guy”.  Earlier we got the chance to walk on the shuttle runway.  The runway is so long (~3 miles) that you can’t see from one end to the other because of the curvature of the Earth.  Locals call it a “gator tanning facility”, because alligators like to warm up in the sun on the concrete. 

This launch was the historic demonstration flight of the world’s most powerful rocket.  It launched from the same pad used by the Apollo moon missions.  Nestled inside the rocket was Elon Musk’s personal red Tesla roadster, including a dummy driver named Starman in a SpaceX astronaut suit.  Usually demonstration flights include demo payloads like a block of cement as weight, but Elon Musk wanted to make it more interesting.  And he certainly did, based on camera images beamed from the roadster!  My favorite one, which simply looks unreal, is a picture of the car after payload release showing Starman driving the bright red cherry roadster through space with Earth in the background.  Until the batteries give out, the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie will play on the car’s stereo.  A display panel in the Tesla says “Don’t Panic” – a reference to the sci-fi classic book “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.  Ultimately the Tesla roadster will endlessly loop around the sun for billions of years in an orbit past Mars and the Asteroid Belt.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, just as thrilling was to see the twin side boosters simultaneously descend to Earth and land on target at Cape Canaveral.  Their speed was so great they generated double sonic booms.  The third core stage was set to return to the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean offshore.  Unfortunately the core crashed into the water near the platform.  But that was a minor hiccup in an otherwise flawless and amazing spectacle.  WOW!

The space center seems to be booming lately with private enterprise, and it is exciting to see new projects in the works.  Hopefully these launches capture people’s imaginations about future possibilities!  A great article about the launch is at:

If you would like to visit Kennedy Space Center (highly recommended), learn more at:

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge for more detail.

Eclipse – Just WOW!!!

Solar Eclipse Collage

Eclipse Humor: Smiley Face

Eclipse 1: First Contact

Eclipse 2: Three Sunspots Visible

Eclipse 3

Eclipse 4

Eclipse 5

Eclipse 6

Totality 1

Totality 2: Solar Prominences

Totality 3

Totality 4

Totality 5: Regulus on Lower Left

Totality 6: Diamond Ring Effect

Totality 7: Venus on Upper Right

Totality 8: 360 degree Horizon Sunset Glow

Eclipse Ale

Jackson Hole Eclipse T-Shirt

Richard & Pam Winegar’s Eclipse Photography Gear

Eclipse Megamovie Postcard Recruiting Citizen Science Photographers

Eclipse Megamovie Photo Team Pin

There are no words to properly describe the eclipse – just WOW!!!  The collage shows the progression of the solar eclipse in Jackson, Wyoming, on August 21, 2017.  Individual pictures follow (click to enlarge for detail).  Early morning we walked five minutes from our Teton Village hotel to ride a gondola up Rendezvous Mountain.  We set up our camera equipment in a beautiful wildflower meadow overlooking Jackson Valley.  We heard a ram’s horn blown in the distance when the eclipse began.  First contact is seen in the collage photo on the upper left.  Three major sunspots were visible on the face of the sun.  An amazing amount of light still came from only the tiniest sliver of sun.  At totality at 11:34 am it was safe to remove protective glasses and filters and look directly at the sky.  The beauty and magnificence of the sight was jaw-dropping!  Everyone gasped and cheers went up!  Many of us, myself included, had an emotional response – it brought tears to my eyes. Photographs do not begin to capture what the eye can see – the corona’s streamers extend way out beyond the sun and across the sky.  It felt like Star Trek come to life.  At least three solar prominences were visible on the edge of the sun, and the diamond ring effect was stunning!  The sudden darkness of totality brought a chill to the air.  The star Regulus and the planet Venus became visible, and a sunset band of orange extended 360 degrees around the horizon.  After 2 minutes and 20 seconds the light burst forth again and the air warmed.  I will never forget that moment!  I think we have officially become eclipse chasers.   The next U.S. eclipse will be April 8, 2024 in a path crossing from Texas to Maine (

UPDATE October 2017:  We have now received our pin for being members of the Megamovie Photo Team.  Thousands of photographers took pictures of the eclipse as it traveled across the United States.  Our uploaded photos were combined by computer into one Megamovie at:   All of the photos for this first-of-its-kind citizen science project will be archived for future research and analysis. 

Florida: Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

Faint Ring Around Full Moon

Faint Ring Around Full Moon

Reddish Hue of Moon During Eclipse

Reddish Hue of Moon During Eclipse

Firefly Trail Over Camera Lens

Firefly Trail Over Camera Lens

We set up a time lapse camera to capture the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse on Sunday night, September 27, 2015.  Although the weather started off iffy, in the end we did record the beautiful sight.  A list of worldwide eclipses over the next 10 years is at: 

Individual pictures above are pulled from the video.  As you watch the video, you’ll first see a faint ring around the moon.  Then the moon disappears completely as it is darkened by the eclipse and is covered with clouds, before reemerging as a red dot during totality of the eclipse.  Next the moon brightens as it becomes full again while tracking right (west) across the sky.  Sporadically you’ll see bugs flying over the camera lens, including a firefly that flew close above it.  The clouds switch directions over time, and at the end you’ll see bright planet Venus rising on the left side (east) before sunrise fills the sky.

Florida: Spectacular Dawn Rocket Launch Today!

30 Second Exposure of Atlas Lift-off

30 Second Exposure of Atlas Lift-off

Tadpole-like Expanding Cloud Plume of Mist

Tadpole-like Expanding Cloud Plume of Mist

Leftover Swirly Clouds that Stayed for Quite Some Time Afterwards

Leftover Swirly Clouds that Stayed for Quite Some Time Afterwards

We had an absolutely spectacular Atlas 5 rocket launch this morning of a Navy MUOS communications satellite into orbit.  The 20-story tall rocket lifted off at 6:18 am.  The dawn sky brightened as the rocket took off and rose up.  Then we saw something we had never seen before – the white rocket plume brightened into an enormous tadpole-like cloud of mist as the rocket arced east across the Atlantic.  The phenomenon was caused by the perfect combination of sun angle below the horizon and high humidity.  The white cloud of water vapor (not smoke) was formed when the rocket’s hot exhaust gases hit the air.  It was an amazing sight, and one of the top two launches we have ever seen!

Space Station on a Starry Night!

Space Station Trail in Night Sky

Space Station Trail in Night Sky

Starry Night Sky with Constellation Orion (middle) and Bright Planet Venus (upper right)

Starry Night Sky with Constellation Orion (middle) and Bright Planet Venus (upper right)

Space Station Track (Yellow Line) by Our House (Blue Dot)

Space Station Track (Yellow Line) by Our House (Blue Dot)

Long Exposure to Capture Owl Hunting in Dark

Long Exposure to Capture Owl Hunting in Dark

The International Space Station tracked right by our house last night in Palm Bay, Florida! It moves FAST! ! Other evening sightings included tree frogs on the window, raccoon and babies under the tree, armadillo looking for bugs, and owl hunting from a favorite perch by the pond (her sudden whinny behind me was surprising!). 

Space Station Flyover

Moonrise in Florida

Moonrise in Florida

Long Exposure of Space Station Flyover

Long Exposure of Space Station Flyover

Airplane Trails 1

Airplane Trails 1

Airplane Trails 2

Airplane Trails 2

View of Pacific Cyclone from Space Station (streamed by ISS Above to our TV - click for details)

View of Pacific Cyclone from Space Station (streamed by ISS Above to our TV – click for details)

We had an extra bright flyover of the International Space Station on Friday evening.  It was a gorgeous warm night with a full moon rising.  As I was taking the pictures, I could hear mama owl singing by the pond.  For better photography next time, I’m looking forward to a nice dark night so that I can take a longer exposure.  If you want to see the Space Station, check flyover times at: Remember that the Space Station emits a bright continuous light (the reflection from the solar panels), and airplanes emit flashing lights.

California: Palomar Observatory

Palomar Observatory

Palomar Observatory

Model of Telescope

Model of Telescope

Celestial Lamp

Celestial Lamp

Palomar Mountain View

Palomar Mountain View

Big Berry Manzanita Flowers

Big Berry Manzanita Flowers

Purple Lupine Flowers

Purple Lupine Flowers

Scarlet Bugler Flowers

Scarlet Bugler Flowers

The drive up to Palomar Observatory is especially beautiful in spring (near San Diego, California).  The wildflowers and mountain scenery are gorgeous!  The telescopes at Palomar have discovered quasars, brown dwarfs, and Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.   Read more about Palomar at:

Spectacular Atlas 5 Rocket Launch Tonight!

Timed Exposure of Atlas 5 Rocket Launch on January 23, 2014

Timed Exposure of Atlas 5 Rocket Launch on January 23, 2014

We had a spectacular rocket launch tonight here on the Space Coast of Florida.  NASA launched a 3.8 ton Atlas 5 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral at 9:33 pm Eastern Standard Time.  What an awesome sight!  This picture is a 2 minute timed exposure of the launch as seen from our home in Palm Bay (about 40 miles south of the Space Center).  Notice the reflection of the rocket trail in the pond (click on the picture to see details and star colors).  Updates and coverage of all worldwide rocket launches is available at

Vintage Space Art Christmas Cards

Card #1 Missileland

Card #1 Missileland

Card #2 Spaceport and Moon

Card #2 Spaceport and Moon

Card #3 Spaceport and Capsule

Card #3 Spaceport and Capsule

Card #4 Capsule on Moon

Card #4 Capsule on Moon

Card #5 Martians Singing on Moon

These vintage Christmas cards were created by NASA space artist Don Mackey in the 1960s and 1970s. I got the cards on eBay. Click on them and look closely for some really fun details.

Card #1 Missileland features a houseboat called the Indian River Queen.  The flying saucer is powered by Florida swamp gas. The artist himself is on the porch beside the pelican, and he is painting the missile launch. A Christmas tree is inside. Santa is on the roof in his long underwear playing cards with the aliens, and his outfit is hanging on the clothesline. On the lower right are leprechauns and an alligator in a Santa hat!

Card #2 Spaceport and Moon shows Santa with two aliens in a Model T sleigh with a surfboard on back. A sign on the Moon says “Snoopy was Here”! Running away from the reindeer is a little dog in a space helmet. The two aliens are digging up gold. The astronaut on the right has a box of Moon gold, and the astronaut on the left is filming the scene with a TV camera.  Perched on his back is a parrot in a space helmet.

Card #3 Spaceport and Capsule shows three aliens wearing Santa hats in a sleigh that says “Wide Load”. The astronauts in the capsule are waving, and one of them is filming the scene with a TV camera. At the back of the capsule is an antennae with an owl perched on it! 

Card #4 Capsule on Moon shows lots of happy green aliens greeting a capsule that has landed on the Moon. The capsule sits on a lunar landscape filled with craters and mountains, with the Earth and a bright shining star in the background. Coming out of the capsule is Santa Claus carrying a bag of toys and a Christmas tree. Ruldolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is peaking his head out the capsule door. The greeting on the card says “Merry Christmas from Cape Canaveral”.

Card #5 Martians Singing on Moon shows four aliens singing Christmas carols, one playing a trumpet, three reaching out of a moon crater for their guitar, plus one alien and one astronaut directing the choir.  In the background Santa and his reindeer are flying into the lunar landscape with a banner that reads “Merry Christmas from Cape Kennedy, Fla and Happy New Year” and Earth is in the background.

Another post that contains Christmas card art by Don Mackey is at:

Florida: Close-Up View of the Space Shuttle Atlantis

Rollout of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Side View of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Front View of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Back View of Space Shuttle Atlantis

Close-Up of Weathered Heat Shield Tiles

76-Wheel Space Shuttle Transporter

Next Generation NASA Orion Crew Module

Next Generation SpaceX Dragon Crew Spacecraft (flames come out of those nose-like holes!)

SpaceX Dragon Inside (Astronaut Seating)

Inflatable Astronaut Greeting

Last Friday was NASA’s rollout of the retired space shuttle Atlantis from the Vehicle Assembly Building to its new home at Kennedy Space Center.  The shuttle had been undergoing refurbishment as part of its transition from a working orbiter to a museum centerpiece at KSC.  Its new mission will be to inspire generations for years to come. 

The rollout ceremony was full of excitement and emotion.  As Atlantis was rolled into a special exhibit area at Exploration Park, music from Star Wars, Proud to be an American, and an original shuttle song were played.  The touching shuttle tribute song is at:

Visitors enjoyed close-up views of Atlantis, along with displays featuring the next generation of space vehicles.

Atlantis was first delivered to KSC in 1985.  Since then she has flown 33 missions, traveled over 126 million miles, and spent 307 days in space.  Her crowning achievement was the mission that repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. 

The new building featuring Atlantis will be ready in summer 2013.  She will be displayed as-is and tipped on her side as if flying in space.  Interactive exhibits are currently being designed by engineers from Disney and Universal Studios.  KSC never fails to impress – it was awesome!

View of SpaceX Rocket Launch from Our Pond

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch on May 22, 2012

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch on May 22, 2012

The launch last night of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft was awesome!  Like many people here on the Space Coast, I set my alarm to get up in time for the launch at 3:44 am.  The night was warm, the crickets were chirping, and an owl was hooting in the distance.  When the rockets fired, the sky lit up like a sunrise.  This long exposure image was taken at our backyard pond, which is about 40 miles south of Kennedy Space Center.  Night launches are truly the best!

UPDATE:  On March 30, 2017, SpaceX successfully reused the Falcon rocket booster that had previously been launched and landed 9 minutes afterward on the “Of Course I Still Love You” platform on an offshore drone ship near Cape Canaveral, Florida.  This achievement is a technology breakthrough and milestone in space exploration!  

Kitt Peak Astronomy Experience

Eagle Nebula

Whirlpool Galaxy

Kitt Peak National Observatory (southwest of Tucson) offers an Advanced Observing Program to the public (  Guests spend the night working side-by-side with a resident astronomer to prepare digital pictures of the universe.  We worked with Flynn Haase to create these images of the Eagle Nebula and Whirlpool Galaxy.  The Eagle Nebula image was published in the book “Archaeoastronomy of the Southwest”.  I highly recommend this experience!

Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton, California

Lick Observatory Domes

Lick Observatory 36 inch Telescope

Lick Observatory Old Photograph

Lick Observatory Seismograph of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Lick Observatory Space Art on Display

Lick Observatory is located at the top of Mount Hamilton (south of San Francisco).  Lick was the first mountaintop observatory in the world in 1887.  All supplies (construction, food, telescopes, etc.) were carried up the mountain on the backs of burros.  The observatory was financed by James Lick, a wealthy San Franciscan who profited from the gold rush.  He is buried in the cement pier that supports one of the oldest telescopes.  On an ultra-clear day at Lick Observatory, the view is incredible:  the Pacific Ocean to the west; the snow-capped Sierra Mountains to the east; San Francisco to the north, and the Central Valley to the south.

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