Look, up in the sky, …

Atmospheric hole near Tassie. Credit NASA Aqua satellite
How’s this for a couple of really interesting pics to come up within a few days of each other? The one above shows a clear hole in the clouds near King Island at the NW corner of Tassie – you can just see the island in the top right corner.

The hole is hundreds of kilometres in diameter. It’s the result of an intense high pressure cell, that is, an almost circular mass of cold air pressing down and forcing the clouds away. You can see the anticlockwise pattern to the clouds. Anticlockwise = anticyclone = high pressure cell in the southern hemisphere.

Lightning over Africa. Credit ESA
This is circular too, but this time it’s lightning! It was shot over West Africa by an ESA astronaut. Wow, that’s some flash.
They are from http://www.universetoday.com  Good site. I check it every day.

Fast moving

It’s a nice time of the year at the moment, apart from the big storms. Do you realise we’re only six days away from the winter solstice? Yes, after next Thursday, the days start lengthening again. Amazing. I seem to be feeling the cold more than previous years (says he, while sitting with the back door open and no heating in use!)
 The light changes quickly at this time and here are three shots taken only minutes apart — the time it took me to grab the camera, change lenses and decide where to shoot. I had to move quickly because the light faded in a few minutes.
As I said yesterday, that shot of the shed was taken in near darkness. I had to bump the camera up to ISO800 to be able to hand hold. The fantastic thing is, I could! And I could post these photos within 10 mins of taking them.
Photography has changed beyond recognition. In the 80s and 90s, shooting film involved big expense (each shot of slide film cost about $2 with processing taken into account) and took at least 24hrs, or a week for Kodachrome, to be able to see what you’d shot, even if you finished the roll and got it processed immediately. Then I had to scan the slides or negs, which took hours and the use of a $2,400 scanner. It’s a new world now. People who didn’t do photography back then won’t understand what I mean.
I mentioned yesterday or the day before that I’d weakened and ordered a 120-400mm zoom lens for my Pentax. I was a bit nervous about it. I’ve been holding off for nearly two years but saw a bargain price (about $560) and decided to leap.
Gloom – fate stepped in and slapped my hand. They emailed me back and said, “Sorry, can’t supply, no stock after all, we’ve refunded your money”.
Well, maybe I wasn’t supposed to have it. At least it gives me a chance to reconsider my priorities. I went to Centrelink yesterday to check on the effect of reverse mortgage on my pension, and Bingo. No problem.
They recognise the need of us pensioners and as long as I take a certain maximum amount and spend it on fixing my house within 90 days, it isn’t counted as an asset. That’s exactly what I wanted.
I can also take the remainder as a fortnightly pension supplement with a minimal effect ($3 per fortnight reduction), and that’s also exactly my plan. So at last, after a year of scrimping and watching every dollar, I can ease up and relax a bit. Buy some new sheets, towels, get the floor strippers in and get new tiles and carpets laid, etc etc.
I do need some lounge furniture but I’m not going to buy new. Crazy expensive prices! Second hand shops, here I come.
Minnie insists on being outside in the cold all the time. She just won’t sleep inside. Yet she still comes to the door at 5pm for her big meaty bone and does her little head shake and dance of pleasure when I deliver it. I just don’t know – I don’t see distress. Not yet.