tau Herculids Meteor Shower

There were plenty of caveats associated with the tau Herculids meteor shower. It could be a full-blown meteor storm or it could be a total bust. But there was a third possibility; not a meteor storm but a shower, or maybe a drizzle.

View of the Milky Way and several tau Herculids meteors.
View of the Milky Way and several tau Herculids meteors.
Cropped view of the three brightest tau Herculids meteors.
Cropped view of the three brightest tau Herculids meteors.

Of course I was hoping for the storm but was quite happy with the shower. I had a few ideas of how to shoot this but ended up going with the Keep It Simple concept. I ended up at a viewpoint on the west side of Mormon Lake and aimed the camera at the rising Milky Way.

A review of my images showed that I captured three very bright meteors and another six that were fairly dim. The first image is a composite of those images and shows the entire field of view from the ultra-wide 17mm lens. It has a field of view of 93° x 70°.

The next image is a tight crop of the three brightest meteors that also shows two dim meteors.

Time-lapse video of the three brightest tau Herculids meteors and some persistent smoke trails.

Finally, there is a time-lapse video of the three brightest showing the persistent smoke trails from two meteors.

It was a fun evening.

Edit: Fixed error in the field of view values.

Wave Cloud over the San Francisco Peaks

We had an interesting wave cloud over and downwind of the San Francisco Peaks on Saturday. I first noticed it as I left the house driving to a trail run on Waterline Road in the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff.

Wave cloud over the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.
Wave cloud over the San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.

The view from the parking lot and trailhead was partially obscured by trees but I knew that sections of the Waterline Road had a wide-open view. And, so, I found a view that I really liked with the wave cloud, road, and distant cinder cones.

I shot this as a set of five vertical panoramas on my iPhone. I then imported these into Affinity Photo to create a horizontal panorama (a panorama of panoramas!).  Finally, I used some warp transformation in AP to fix the horizon (i.e.; make it straight instead of curved) and the corners.

Five vertical panorama images used to create the final image.
Five vertical panorama images used to create the final image.

Oh, and the run was fun, too!

March Snow in northern Arizona

Another winter storm moved across northern Arizona on Friday and Saturday dropping several inches of snow. Clouds began to clear Sunday morning just before sunrise setting up the possibility of a great sunrise. Well—it was a great sunrise at my location but a small patch of low clouds blocked the sun from shining on the San Francisco Peaks.

First light illuminates freshly-fallen snow.
First light illuminates freshly-fallen snow.

Time to shoot photos of something else. Here is an image as the first sunlight hits the snow in front of me. The sun angle is so low that the slightest undulations in snow create long shadows.

Tire tracks in the snow.
Tire tracks in the snow.

Tire tracks in snow are interesting, aren’t they? Taken just a few minutes later as a bit of cloudiness moved in front of the sun.

Old ranch buildings near Mormon Lake.
Old ranch buildings near Mormon Lake.

There are a couple of old buildings in the meadow near Mormon Lake and the sun and clouds provide a natural spotlight on the old ranch.

Clouds blow across the top of the San Francisco Peaks in the wake of a departing storm.
Clouds blow across the top of the San Francisco Peaks in the wake of a departing storm.

Here is an image of the San Francisco Peaks with just a bit of light striking the highest clouds.

Finally, a short time lapse video of the peaks and clouds. Note the sinking motion along the eastern edge of the peaks as well as the hydraulic jump farther downstream.

Snow in the Desert

Snow in the desert is amazing. Desert plants and red rocks are covered with snow and birds are just a bit bewildered by the whole experience.

Red rocks and snow covered trees near Sedona.
Red rocks and snow covered trees near Sedona.
Snow-covered desert plants near Sedona.
Snow-covered desert plants near Sedona.

A very cold storm system moved across Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday and snow levels fell well below 4000′ feet bringing snow to the higher deserts including Sedona. I was pretty certain I was going to make the trip to Sedona for sunrise on Thursday morning.

Around 3 a.m. the snow plows came through the neighborhood pushing up a 2 foot berm of ice and  snow that would need to be cleared before I could get out of the driveway. Classic—happens just about every time!

Once in Sedona I followed a trail that had not seen any human traffic since yesterday but there were coyote tracks. I never saw the critter and it was probably just as well.

New snow covers red rock and trees in Oak Creek Canyon.
New snow covers red rock and trees in Oak Creek Canyon.

The snow in Sedona will be mostly gone within a day or two.

Cap Clouds over the San Francisco Peaks

A fast-moving storm system passed over northern Arizona on Wednesday. Snowfall amounts were generally 2–4 inches in the higher terrain of Coconino County and 2–6 inches in eastern Arizona. Clouds exited the region overnight leaving clear skies in the Flagstaff area. A check of satellite data suggested some clouds over the San Francisco Peaks so I headed out for some photos and video of the sunrise.

First light on the cap cloud atop the San Francisco Peaks (0712 MST 17 Feb 2022).
First light on the cap cloud atop the San Francisco Peaks (0712 MST 17 Feb 2022).
Sunlight illuminating both clouds and snow-covered peaks (0716 MST 17 Feb 2022).
Sunlight illuminating both clouds and snow-covered peaks (0716 MST 17 Feb 2022).

There was a cap cloud over the peaks that was generated by strengthening northeasterly flow moving into the Inner Basin and rising over the summits. The cloud could be seen dissipating as it moved down the southwest flanks of the mountains.

Time-lapse video of the sunrise on the cap cloud atop the snow-covered San Francisco Peaks.

I shot video using a Sony RX10—but the battery gave out sooner than expected owing to the cold (+14 °F; –10 °C). Still, I was able to get about 24 minutes and then compressed this down to about 11 seconds.

Another storm seems likely next week.