Friday, July 18, 2014

A Celestial Weekend

Katkandu headsail.

Last weekend, Capt. Mark hosted a sunset sail with the dock gang aboard Katkandu. With a light breeze and a headsail, we sauntered across the river and back, quiet and relaxed under wide blue skies.

John, Mark and BillS on Katkandu.

Soon after our return to the marina, a Thunder Moon emerged from behind clouds over South River, a bold rose colored orb hovering above the Neuse. As the sun melted into the western horizon and darkness settled over the river, the moon turned a brilliant orange with craters, impact rays, warts and all visible (through binoculars or telephoto lens).

Moonrise over the Neuse...

....and later in full darkness, a burned orange. Photo by Ben Casey.
See Ben's Gallery and more at

The following day around lunch time, our eyes peered northward, low on the horizon, in hope of seeing an unmanned Cygnus rocket roaring into space from NASA's Wallops Island, Virginia facility with a payload of supplies for the ISS. The rocket was projected to pass our view at about two minutes after launch. The river was crowded with boats also watching. But the low haze, light as it was, blocked our collective view. We watched and watched the time slip past. At ten minutes post-launch, the rocket had reached space and clearly escaped any possibility of anyone on earth seeing it. Oh well. Better to have tried etc....

As an historical note, Grace reminded all of us via that NASA used to bring a tracking trailer to Dolphin Point, just east of WPM, to track rockets launched from Wallops Island.

I tend to focus on the natural world immediately surrounding us here on the water. I am constantly scanning the horizon, searching the surface or peering into the thickly translucent brown waters of the creek, watchful for any glimpse of marine life, whether otter, pelican, dolphin, mullet or jellyfish. However, with little light pollution and a vast empty sky reaching far up, down and over the river, we enjoy seeing planets, stars, the dusty cloud of the Milky Way as well as passing satellites and the frequent, speedy orbit of the ISS (that I have yet to spot during daylight).

There is much about which to marvel. Sometimes we just need to look up.

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