A Night on the Playa, Part 2

A sailing stone, the path behind it showing the route it took to get here.

There was a second wide spot in the road at the south end of the playa; we parked and continued our explorations.  This time we found stones sitting on the surface of the lakebed.  There were not many, and we had to hike a mile or so to find them.  Some sat happily contemplating their position in the uniform semi-infinite plane of mud cracks.  Others showed a faint trail of disturbed, and now solidified mud, leading to their current position.  These were the famous sailing stones! 

Continue reading

Timelapse and Lens Testing

A view to the southwest includes the Milky Way, a target for one of my tests, behind incoming clouds lit by city-glow.  The observatory has visitors whose cars illuminate its shell.,

A mostly clear night, and a new lens to try out!  A lens I was hoping to use to capture wide-angle views of the Milky Way, and of northern lights, should I ever be in a position to do so.

I headed to Baylor Park, which is the home of Eagle Lake Observatory, operated by my astronomy club.  I wasn’t there to use its facilities (though others were).  I just wanted a clear view of the sky outside the city, somewhere I could practice techniques for making timelapse sequences, preferably alone, where I could make mistakes without an audience.

Continue reading

A Night with the Sunflowers

Sunflowers in the light of the full moon.

I have long been fascinated by sunflowers.  On my travels across the prairies of the Dakotas I loved to encounter sunflower fields with their collective bright yellow heads all aimed in the same direction.  

It is generally known that sunflowers track the sun across the sky, from east to west.  I wondered what happens after sunset, when the flowers would all be facing west.  With no phototropism to guide it, how would they get ready for the eastern sunrise?  Would they be caught off-guard in the morning and suddenly swing their heads back at the risk of floral whiplash?  Or is there a gradual re-setting of the neck-stalk fibers back to an easterly gaze?

Continue reading