Late Season Severe Weather Event A Surpriser

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Glancing at an AccuWeather alert on my cell phone just before noon on Monday, November 28, 2016, it indicated "strong thunderstorms and half-inch hail," and left me thinking, "wait, what??" Tornado reports began coming in a couple of hours later, and I almost forgot about what time of the season it was! The thin line of severe weather was plodding along at 18 mph at 4:00 pm CST between Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, and I knew the likelihood of it holding up or even being able to see funnels in the growing darkness was very slim, so I stayed put in Cedar Rapids. After one solitary loud crack of thunder, I captured the panorama shown above. The line of storms, now considerably weakened, had finally arrived. Image looks northwest over Bowman Woods Park at 6:11 pm CST. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.





The upper radar image above shows four tornado-warned cells at 4:08 pm. These cells would produce five confirmed (EF0) twisters. The lower radar image shows the line of storms corresponding to the top photograph. Air temperature was 50 degrees F, dew point 50 degrees, humidity 100%, and the wind was from the south. Prior to 3:30 pm, the wind was from the SSE.

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Morning Reflectors

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Altocumulus clouds situated in the right position in the sky on the morning of Sunday, November 20, 2016 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa reflected the rising sun with spectacular color. Both images posted here were captured at 6:57 am CST from Brentwood Drive NE. Air temperature was 19 degrees F. Actual sunrise was 7:03 am. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.


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Super Harvest Moon

Monday, November 14, 2016


Super Moon. Harvest Moon. Beaver Moon. Frosty Moon. Take your pick. Conditions were very good for viewing the moon's rising on Monday, November 14, 2016 north of Marion, Iowa. Above, the moon peaks over the horizon and through some haze at 5:32 pm CST, about 8 minutes after official moonrise, with farmers still harvesting crops in their fields. The location for these four images was Ross Veterinary Clinic on North Marion Road, about .1-mile north of County Home Road.


5:37 pm. The moon and a farm combine.


5:39 pm. Vertical orientation of the same theme. Air temperature was 48 degrees F.


Supermoon close-up (300mm lens), captured at 5:34 pm. The enlarged, oblate appearance of the moon near the horizon is an optical illusion. Not an illusion is the fact that the moon is closer to the earth than it has been in 69 years (221,525 miles), and won't be this close again until November 25, 2034.  At this moment, the moon was actually waning, as it had reached technical fullness earlier in the day at 7:52 am CST. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.

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Serious Cirrus

Monday, November 7, 2016


With very little cloud cover in other parts of the sky, this line of cirrus (fibratus) stood out spectacularly in the afternoon skies of Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Saturday, November 5, 2016. The panoramic image above, captured at 4:38 pm CDT, looks west over Bowman Woods Park.


Similar capture at 4:41 pm.


Closer shot of the soaring cirrus fibratus tendrils at 4:41 pm, with a forming circumzenithal arc (center).


The circumzenithal arc has now become more pronounced at 4:45 pm. These parhelia phenomena are created by sunlight refracted through a 22-degree angle by horizontally oriented hexagonal ice-crystal plates. The circumzenithal arc is one of the most colorful of the ice crystal phenomena and is always seen high in the sky when the sun is within 18-26 degrees of the horizon. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.

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My Andromeda Strain

Saturday, November 5, 2016


I strained hard to find the galaxy Andromeda (M31) in my camera's viewfinder, and I strained to get a good sharp focus. Using a 70-300mm lens zoomed all the in, the galaxy appears in the upper left portion of the top image. A successful focus was achieved by focusing to infinity in manual, then tweaking it back just a bit. The image, captured from Brentwood Drive NE in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at 9:05 pm CDT, Friday, November 4, 2016, is a 6 second exposure at f/5.6, 5000 ISO and 300mm focal length. Andromeda was shining at apparent magnitude 4.5 and was 70 degrees above the horizon.


The image above was exposed with the same settings as the image at top, but cropped closer in post-processing. The Andromeda Galaxy is the most distant object that can be seen with the naked eye. It resides some 2.5 million light years from Earth, but is predicted to be on a collision course with the Milky Way in about 4 billion years. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.

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Only The Shadows Know

Friday, November 4, 2016


A vibrant twilight seen from Bowman Woods Park in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, October 27, 2016 created contrasty shadows in the foreground trees. This panoramic image was captured at 6:23 pm CDT. Actual sunset was 6:06 pm. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.

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Triple Floaters

Friday, October 21, 2016




This photo opportunity "nudged me right on the shoulder": I began hearing the distinctive sound of a hot air balloon burner, so I naturally went outside to catch a glimpse of it. Not one, not two, but three balloons were clustered together with a beautiful altocumulus background sky to boot on Friday evening, October 21, 2016. The three images shown here look SW from Brentwood Drive NE in Cedar Rapids, Iowa near Bowman Woods Park.  Top image was captured at 4:55 pm, middle at 4:56 pm and bottom at 4:58 pm. Nikon D7200 DSLR camera.

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