Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ISS/Shuttle Pass Overhead

The picture below was taken about 9:30 p.m. on July 26, 2009, as the combined International Space Station (ISS) and the Shuttle passed over Farmersville. In this reduced shot, you can see the streak left by the ISS during a 10 second time exposure.

A close-up (full resolution) of just the ISS is below. This is taken facing southeast. The timing for this pass was: start 9:25 p.m. (10 degrees NW); peak 9:28 p.m. (79 degrees WSW); end 9:31 p.m. (10 degrees SE).
There is a crew of 13 on board at the moment.

I walked into the back yard at about 9:15 p.m. so I'd have time to let my eyes adjust to the darkness (it was hardly yet dark). As I was setting my camera up on the tripod, I saw that the sky was busy with bats. Two of them fluttered by so closely that I could hear their wings beat. I waved my hands a few times so they could "see" me and most of them moved higher and off to the side.
The ISS pass was perhaps the brightest I have ever seen. It's peak magnitude was -3.2. Venus, by comparison, is about -4.1. The object passed so quickly when it was overhead that I had trouble keeping it in the frame. Thus the picture I've posted was taken as the ISS was lower in the sky and moving apparently slower.
What a beautiful night to watch science at work.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pinehaven Red-White & (No)Blue Pie

How about something red, white and blue for the 4th of July? Well, the version I had for lunch was minus the blue but the addition of a few blueberries - or raspberries - would complete the recipe in Independence Day fashion.
This is a modified recipe for Glazed Strawberry Pie and it is as wonderful as it is easy!

Pinehaven Red-White & (No)Blue Pie

1 (9 inch) baked pie shell - a commercial graham cracker crust is perfect
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 small package strawberry Jello
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
fresh strawberries

Combine water, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Cook until the white color clears and the mixture becomes gel-like. Stir entire package of Jello into the hot mixture. Cool in refrigerator until it begins to thicken. Place strawberries in pie shell (we left some whole but cut a few for enhanced flavor). Pour glaze over berries and place in refrigerator.

Other fruit (peaches, raspberries) would work as well. Change the flavor of Jello to match.

Add a dollop of whipped cream and you have the red and white. Plop a few raspberries or blueberries atop the whipped cream if you want to add the blue.