Monday, July 22, 2019

Eclipse 2019 at Vicuna, Northern Chile

"Show us your eclipse photos," asked many friends. "Why bother," some would say, "They all look alike."  Which is true if one looks at the standard photos, especially those shot with a hand-held point and shoot camera. Such as this one from my 2019 collection of photos.

Image 1 - Corona 2019 eclipse

Image 1 is of course a photo of the moon in front of the sun. The brighter region around the sun is its corona, the gaseous atmosphere, not normally visible because of the concentrated brightness of the sun's surface, but is visible during eclipses, when the bright surface of the sun is blocked by the moon. Interestingly though, the corona is actually hotter than the sun's surface, but being less dense, appears less bright.

Most photographs of the corona look more or less the same, eclipse after eclipse. The amount of the corona visible do vary and but that is partly dependent on the camera's exposure settings..

It is a quirky fact of images that an underexposed photo contains much information that can be recovered by "photoshop", The corona in Image 1 was in fact revealed by "photoshoping" an image such as this.

Image 2 -2019 eclipse

I deliberately  set my exposure low enough so that the corona's brightness did not blank out the more subtle features near the sun's surface - the reddish prominences visible now at six o'clock and 9 o'clock. These are hot plasma gases that erupt and are looped back by the sun's strong magnetic fields.

Compare Image 2 with Image 3, one that I photographed in the USA 2017 eclipse viewed from Madras in Oregon. The prominences were quite different in 2017.

Image 3 - 2017 eclipse

Features of the sun that are of interests to me include the Bailey beads which are spots of sunlight broken up by the irregular surface of the moon.  These are visible in the few seconds before Totality

Image 4 -Bailey beads at the beginning of Totality
and just after the end of Totality - Image 5.

Image 5 - Bailey beads at the end of Totality

And of course, we all like the arguably prettiest part of eclipse observations, the Diamond Ring

Image 6 - Diamond ring, 2019 eclipse

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Kay's Quarter Peal

In bell ringing a full peal is a marathon when ringers ring through a complete permutation of seven bells that requires 5040 changes in the sequence, an effort that normally takes about three hours non-stop. Ringers' fingers and palms often end up raw with broken blisters.

A kinder challenge is the quarter peal (QP) in which ringers ring for 1260 permutations taking about 40 odd minutes, a quarter of the time required for a full peal. It is still an achievement, an important milestone that new ringers aim for. Kay achieved that today ringing with a band of five other ringers.

Congratulations Kay! This a short video clip of the church viewed from across George Street with the bells sounding out.

Ringing World Bell Board

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Storm damaged tree

We had an electrical storm last Saturday afternoon (15 Dec) that came with strong wind gusts, rain and hail. Later we discovered that a large branch from our large Liquid Amber tree had broken off and fallen onto our neighbour's driveway. Fortunately there was not a car underneath or trapped. Together with a large area of northern suburbs of Sydney, we lost power for more than 24 hours.

The fallen branch did not appear large from our side.

But the neighbour's driveway was totally blocked.
We rang the SES (State Emergency Services). As expected, they were inundated with calls and ours was a minor problem in comparison with many urgent cases where properties were damaged. Still, they were able to come first thing on Monday morning. Their task was to clear free up the driveway and prevent the branch caught up in the tree from falling and injuring people.

A man was sent to the top of the broken branch, hauled up by the crane.

The branch was broken up piece by piece, each brought down by the crane.

On the ground three men cut the branches into manageable sizes.

Cleared driveway
In an hour it was all done and the driveway was cleared.

Where the branch broke.

Some of the debris were mulched but large pieces are left on the neighbours' lawn. We will arrange for these to be cut up and moved to the kerbside to be collected by the local Hornsby Council,

Monday, February 19, 2018

Fort Canning

We found time during a short Lunar New Year stopover to visit Fort Canning. We found a hidden gem, especially after the spruce up of recent years. The historic stuffs are still there, including the Battle Box (where the farcical defence of Singapore during the World War II was managed) and tombstones of old graves (remains exhumed). We enjoyed the walk along the well prepared paths, which was very comfortable with the gentle morning breeze and in the shade of the tall trees. The spice garden of nutmegs, cloves, curry leaf trees and pandan plants, as well as the old kramat were pleasant surprises.

General Percival has not been forgotten, with a road and a flight of steps kindly named after him.

Mythical animal on retaining walls.

Walking path

Percival Steps - downhill all the way (to Stamford Road)

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Cautious Visitor

One day we discovered we had a visitor just under our house's eaves. It was a possum!  Being a nocturnal animal, it left after it got dark. It obviously had other homes because it only showed up every few days.

Kay tempted it with a slice of apple, known to be popular with possums.

Cautiously, the possum inspected it and then quickly devoured it.

Then we discovered it had something in its pouch - a cub!

The cub gradually got bigger. 
They shared a love for apples.

The cub also became more demanding once it had acquired a taste for the fruit.
After visiting us over a period of more than a month, they suddenly stopped coming. We missed them!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Historic Sloan Court Hotel

Anthony alerted me to the impending demise of the historic Sloan Court Hotel at Balmoral Road.  So at our the opportunity when we met up again this week, we had lunch at the hotel restaurant, The Berkeley. We had the signature pork chop and the oxtail stew. Both dishes were noteworthy. Thanks Anthony.

Pity that the building will be demolished at the end of this month (October 2017) to make way for a 12 storey condo, though the building is quite rundown and reviews had been poor. However, how historic is historic in the case of the Sloan Court building?  I could not find any precise details on the internet.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Late winter garden

In the late winter sunshine, a movement in our camellia tree caught my eyes.

It was a well camouflaged Rainbow Lorikeet! A bit hard to get a sharp photo of the restless bird.