On February 20th, 2008 I was out taking some photos of the total lunar eclipse. About 1/4 to full eclipse, I started noticing a red vertical light beam coming from the eastern horizon. At first I thought it was a jet contrail, but the light strength increased, and I noticed many more vertical light beams along the southern horizon. These beams were faint, and were red and green in color. I used a night vision viewer and saw what looked like vertical banding along the southern horizon. I took the zoom lens off my camera and took a one minute exposure looking south. Here is the photo.
Vertical light beams
I am not sure what the reason for this light show since I can’t find any reference material citing the light beaming phenomenon. I suspect it has something to do with refractive light reflection between the celestial objects. I was only able to snap one photo. Cloud cover came in and a snow squall followed on that 15 degree night. I waited to see if any light banding would show up after the full eclipse, but it didn’t. I have never seen this phenomenon during any other lunar eclipse. If someone out there could give me a scientific reason for the lunar eclipse causing a vertical light beaming around the horizon, I would like to hear about it. One thing is for sure, the light show was one of the most beautiful things I had ever experienced.
After hearing Kat’s description below, I think the effect was due to a few city lights reflecting on ice crystals in the air, which were in the atmosphere before a snow squall came in. It was still a beautiful sight. One of the first times I would consider city lights beautiful. 😉
Here are some other photos from that night, including a not so good photo of the light beam I saw in the eastern sky (jet contrail also seen, and the moon for reference)
The Fall of 2007 was the most unusual Fall I have ever seen. The Fall in the Ohio/Pennsylvania area was exceptionally warm, especially at night due to high dew points. My family has always marked our mother’s birthday, November 9th, as being the time that all the leaves have fallen from all the trees. In 2007, a 100 year record warmth, in October and November, left trees with green leaves during the second week of November. December came and there were still fruit trees and shrubs with green leaves. The snows started and the green leaves started to fall. This was one of the weirdest Falls ever seen in the Ohio/Pennsylvania area.
Global warming? I would say so. It was also a record year of ice melt in the northern Arctic, with exceptional 20 degree above average temperatures. 2007 also marked a change in theory where scientists now estimate all the Summer Arctic ice will be gone by the year 2015. That is a huge change in thinking, and is in line what I believe, that world change due to Global Warming will be far sooner than anyone has calculated.
I have seen changes during my lifetime where I live. Summers have been not only hotter, but much more humid. I need to only look into the sky to know why. I see a ever increasing tanish cast to the blue skies, and the stars at night have become difficult to see even in the most remote, dark places in the county. Relentless pollution spews into the air. I am left many times with a tickle in my lungs after my biking workouts due to the high ozone levels and I live in the “country”. I think back to the mid 80’s and wonder what happened to the cars that got a true 60MPG, like the Chevy Sprint and Honda Civic?
Our need for change and to do with less is ever more critical. I hope for radical changes, but feel people and political change will be too slow. Global warming has serious implications to migrating birds who time their migration to the peak of insects. That timing has been faltering as the insects are peaking sooner and bird nesting is failing.
The year 2008 bounced back and had a longer and more severe Winter.
I wanted to post that I have worked out the details and now have almost all of my nature sound CDs available as MP3 album downloads. Plus, there is at least one track of each album available as a single MP3 download. I hope to add other various tracks that didn’t fit well into an album as single MP3 downloads in the future.
I wasn’t as easy I as thought it would be to able to sell downloads. I spent over a month with endless hassles back and forth with numerous software vendors, and web hosts about the requirements of each. I am telling you, most people don’t know how their own programs work, nor how downloads are handled. I eventually found a software engineer who knew what he was doing, and I was able to get his software integrated into the web site like I wanted to. Yay!
My MP3 downloads are large files. If you are used to downloading music, you will notice my track lengths are much longer, in the 10-30 minute range. Full albums are in the 100MB range. Those of you with dial-up Internet service may run into Microsoft time out errors while downloading due the length of the files. If you do have a time out error, that stops the download, try this: about every 10 minutes, cancel the file download, then restart the download, continue to repeat this until the file is downloaded. Windows saves the download in a temporary file and picks up where it left off when you restart the download. This a trick I learned from once being on dial-up out in the boonies until cable became available. Downloading an album with dial up will take over an hour. Those of you with DSL and Cable Internet service, should be able to download an album in less than 5 minutes, depending on your service provider.
I introduce to you another Gold Series CD, Allegheny Plateau, Songs of Birds in Spring Chorus. The large, connected forests found in Northern Pennsylvania is a rare find in the Eastern USA. Once striped of almost every tree in the early 1900’s, this region has bounced back having forests covering it’s ridges and valleys. This is one of my favorite places to explore, camp, backpack, and to escape the constant hum of traffic. This region has begun to suffer from acid rain from states west of Pennsylvania. Some of the thrushes have suffered the most from the depleted snails and worms that need less acidic soil to thrive. I used to hear beautiful choruses of Wood Thrushes in the Summer evenings, but now I only hear a couple of birds. The Oven Bird has also lost serious numbers. The Verry, on the other hand, appear to be increasing in numbers in the past years, but that maybe that they are more noticeable with a lack of other birds. Good news for the future is that the New England states, since the federal government wasn’t going to do anything, have successfully sued the power generating plants that were causing the majority of the acid rain problems to install scrubbers to dramatically reduce acid rain problems. I certainly hope the scrubbers being installed becomes reality.
I am surprised at the number of Warblers that nest and migrate through this region. While recording the material for this CD, I was surprised by two birds. I found a Woodcock in a small clearing in the forest, prenting in late May. It was so unusual to hear a Woodcock that late in the year. The other surprise was that I found some Whip-poor-wills. I know, your thinking that shouldn’t a big deal. A few years ago, I was on a mission to record Whip-poor-wills. I went to southern Ohio, where I have always heard good numbers before and there was nothing. I had to travel all the way near the Ohio River to find enough to record. I since learned that Whip-poor-wills have been decreasing in numbers greatly, so to hear some in Northern Pennsylvania was a pleasant surprise. It also tells me that the area I was recording was a very good habitat that hasn’t seen the wrath of human sprawl.
The Allegheny Plateau CD celebrates the sounds of this forest. The sounds were recorded with the lowest noise microphones available and the best, lowest noise microphone amplifier, with direct 24-bit, digital recording and editing. This is one of my very best Eastern woodland bird CDs. Allegheny Plateau differs from my Woodland Birds in Chorus series in that it is not as busy sounding, more relaxing. The Woodland Birds in Chorus series were recorded at the peak of the bird migration with rich sunrise choruses. Allegheny Plateau is a story of a day in the forest, with morning, afternoon, and evening bird songs. Listen to more audio samples and buy your copy today at http://www.natureguystudio.com/. An MP3 album is also available for download.
I was out traveling this late April and early May on the back roads of New Mexico and Arizona with my brother. It was a two and a half week, cross-country trip where we managed to camp every night. We visited all the birding hot spots I read about, but there just wasn’t much there or we had terrible wind storm problems. We ventured to the most desolate places we could find, and found some areas with good bird activity. During our trip we found out that much of Arizona has been in a very bad drought. Some of our favorite spots in the past, such as Koffa National Wildlife Refuge, was very quiet due to the serious drought conditions. The vegetation looked dead, even the cactus plants were growing black and dropping branches. The few birds and animals that were still in the drought areas were quiet due to the stress. The trick was to find areas that wasn’t so drought stricken. There were some areas east of Phoenix that had normal moisture. The plants were green and blooming, creeks were running, and all the birds were happy. The only problem being east of Phoenix and Tucson was lot of airplanes criss-crossing the skies.
What was new on this trip is I had all my new recording gear. Earlier in the year I was so busy burning the midnight oil acquiring and building new equipment. I now have a stereo field microphone array using the world’s quietest microphones covered with my custom, high wind, windscreens. The biggest new item is my new microphone amplifier. My brother helped me design it. It is a very low noise unit with accurate, quick responding meters, a number of analog inputs and outputs, plus a 24-bit digital output stream that goes directly into my new digital recorder. I made this amplifier myself because I couldn’t find anything on the market that would actually obtain true 24-bit performance. The parts are available for 24-bit performance, so I made my own. I got the amplifier done less than a week before the trip with hardly any run time on it. It was quite amazing I was able to assemble it without a single error. All the new equipment worked great. Except for a slight glitch with one of the new microphones that was apparently overcome with moisture while recording in Arkansas.
I am quite proud of this new CD. I think it represents the bird sounds heard in the Sonoran Desert. The sounds are very clear, extremely low noise and distortion free. I hope everyone who buys a copy will truly enjoy it. You can find out more information and listen to more audio samples of the CD at http://www.natureguystudio.com/.
Hello, my name is Bruce Rutkoski. I am the owner of Natureguy Studio. My background is in audio recording, electronic engineering, automotive mechanics, business, and mechanical engineering. I guess I was always an environmentalist at heart since I was a kid. I did some volunteer work for the local park districts and the Nature Conservancy in the past. It was really fun work, like deer censuses, owl surveys, bird banding, and invasive species clean up. I love the outdoors and have a deep appreciation for the beautiful order of nature. As a nature recording engineer, I see the effects of human impact on the environment first hand throughout the USA. Often times, I feel like I am in a race to capture the sounds of the birds and animals before their sounds go quiet, or they are drowned out by the noise of man. I have memories of what the Spring woods sounded like when I was very young, and every year since, it has gotten quieter. In my travels I have found a few places that still have that wonderful sound that I remember as a kid. I hope my recordings will not be enjoyable to those who already enjoy nature, but also inspire people to stop, listen, and understand that we share this little blue planet, called Earth, with lot of other important floral and fauna.
I hope you enjoy reading the blogs and share the information freely. The blog will have news and information about Natureguy Studio, and nature related items of interest.