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Gilman District Barite

Was up visiting a friend near Eagle and he turned me onto a public site near the Gilman District of Colorado to collect quartz and barite. It was a bit chilly showing that fall is on its way; all the peaks had significant snow. I was able to find some yellow barite but the quartz eluded me.

Gilman Colorado as seen from the road across the valley from the north.

Gilman Colorado as seen from the road across the valley from the north.

Gilman Colorado is a now ghost town that got its start during the silver boom of the late 1880s.  It was the town supporting the Eagle Mine, but production stopped in 1984 and the mine is heavily polluted making it a Superfund site.  What is interesting is I was listening to a great book on Rocky Flats on the way up that day, Full Body Burden by Kristin Iverson, which talks about another horribly polluted area of Colorado!  Note that the town and its buildings and mines are on private property.  Where I was there were many sheer cliffs and very steep hills, so caution is required in this general area.

Old wire sticking out of the ground.

Old wire sticking out of the ground.

Visiting museums and rock shops around the state I have seen plenty of pyrite and yellow barite mineral specimens from the Eagle Mine.  I was excited that I was able to find some great finds including larger 25+ pound rocks (which were really fun to carry up the steep hills of the area) and some great individual crystals!

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

 

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

Yellow Barite, Gilman District, Eagle County, Colorado

I was looking for pyrite but given I wasn’t near any of the mines or tailings I didn’t find any.  I did find a curious mineral, which reminds me a lot of Satin Spar.  This had some really interesting “worm” like appendages.  It is fairly brittle and I’m currently researching what this could be.

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The nodules on top of this (?) Satin Spar were really neat

The nodules on top of this (?) Satin Spar were really neat

Not sure what this is, it looked like Satin Spar, a form of selenite gypsum

Not sure what this is, it looked like Satin Spar, a form of selenite gypsum

I also visited several mine dumps above Leadville along 5th street looking for pyrite there, but again didn’t find anything much of interest.  There was snow on the ground here and it was a beautiful day to get out and hike around, and that is what I did!  Anyone that has been to Leadville knows the scenery is absolutely stunning!

2014 Orionids Meteorite Shower

Orionids shooter - this one had a nice tail that lasted for about a second.

Orionids shooter – this one had a nice tail that lasted for about a second.

The morning of October 21st was the peak of the 2014 Orionids Meteorite shower and as always I try to witness these celestial events!  This night was very little moon (none actually) and clear which made for great viewing.  We are viewing dust from Halley’s Comet.

I set the alarm for 1:30am and saw 7 in about 45 minutes.  The shower was not as active as I remember the Orionids being; so I will probably head out tomorrow morning and check out the other side of the peak.  Here are a couple of meteorites I caught on camera.

Orionids Meteoriteaa

Orionids Meteorite – This one had no tail and was bluish to the eye, but was rather large; definitely without the tail it is harder to photograph!

Orionids Meteoriteaa

Orionids Meteorite Interesting color on this smaller one.

Blood Red Moon – October 8, 2014

For the second time this year we have the opportunity to view a full lunar eclipse, the Blood Red moon.  I watched the other 2014 full lunar eclipse as well and it was spectacular.  On the Palmer Divide where I live there was a slight haze due to an upper level thin cloud deck, but you could see the moon throughout the night, for the most part, so it was worth getting up and watching.

I set the alarm for 2:45 and the sky looked mostly clear.  I set up the digital SLR camera on the tripod with a 70-200 mm lens.  As with all nighttime photography, it is a bit of a trick to get the settings correct for the camera.  I focused the camera on the moon when it was still full and un-eclipsed while it was nice and bright using the auto-focus feature.  This is much easier to focus than when it is eclipsed and you have to guess.  Note that all the way out with focus does not mean infinity and will be very out of focus.

Once focused, I turned off the lens auto-focus and image stabilization (which will vibrate the camera making it a little out of focus i.e. fuzzy).  With the moon full it is very bright, I used a f/stop around 7 and 1/100th of a second exposure with an ISO at 200 or 400. Once the moon was eclipsed it was very dim and I needed a lower f/stop (lowest possible for the lens to let the most light in as possible) and I used an 800 ISO and cranked up the exposure to several seconds.  With more expensive faster glass you can get away with less noisy values, hopefully someday I’ll have this option!

I took these first few pictures in the late evening well before the eclipse with a Meade ETX-125 telescope.  I didn’t have the T-adapter to the telescope so I used the normal eye piece connector, which worked but I had to hold the telescope steady; which obviously won’t work in low light situations so I didn’t get any close up shots of the Blood Red Moon during the eclipse with the telescope.  Due to the magnification, I couldn’t get the entire moon in the field of view.

Full Moon rising about 8 hours before the eclipse started

The other side of the Full Moon rising about 8 hours before the eclipse started

Full Moon rising about 8 hours before the eclipse started

Full Moon rising about 8 hours before the eclipse started

I started viewing the moon about 2:45 am and about 3:15 the eclipse started.  I watched until about 5 am when the moon started to set behind the forest canopy.

The hazy cloud deck made viewing by eye difficult, and with the camera I still was able to see the eclipse but the definition was poor.   As the morning progressed, the cloud deck started to evaporate and the moon, for a little while, was more defined.

Moon heading into eclipse

Moon heading into eclipse

Moon nearly fully eclipsed, blood starting to take over

Moon nearly fully eclipsed, blood starting to take over

Blood Red Moon during total eclipse

Blood Red Moon during total eclipse

Blood Red moon coming out of total eclipse

Blood Red moon coming out of total eclipse

Eclipse ending as the moon set behind the forest of trees

Eclipse ending as the moon set behind the forest of trees

Was a wonderful evening and a rare event to see the Blood Red Moon!

Pickin’ Red Feather Lakes Quartz

My dad, son and I had the opportunity to go on a rockhounding club field trip with the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society as guests of the Flatiron Mineral Club to a set of private claims near Red Feather Lakes in Northcentral Colorado.  Red Feather Lakes is known for some of the best Colorado Amethyst found and also clear quartz, and a few miles north high quality industrial grade diamonds!  Today we were digging for Red Feather Lakes quartz.

Here are a couple of past expeditions to the RFL area:

There were a couple of claims that we could visit so we had a choice of what we wanted to do this field trip!  Some of us stayed at the first claim the claim owner walked us to in hopes of bigger quartz crystals and clusters (but much more effort) while others went to a smaller claim that had abundant smaller clear quartz crystals that were much easier to find.  Hunter and I chose the first claim with more digging effort and a longer walk while my dad chose to check out the other smaller claim, eventually coming back and getting the best of both worlds.

Hunter is not much of a digger and has a keen eye for float, so he set off right away and started scouting the claim.  Meanwhile, I love to dig so that I did.  I found a couple of crystals within the top foot of soil and found some quartz veins that didn’t produce anything noteworthy.  Hunter found a very nice float cluster right away bringing up everyone’s confidence that there is good stuff in the area.  Meanwhile, the trip leader, Charlotte, was no more than two feet next to me and started hitting nice crystals as she opened up a seam.

Hunter's quartz cluster.

Hunter’s quartz cluster.

Just after Hunter gave us all a jaw-dropping moment, I hit a nice phantom with white quartz with a secondary period of crystallization of clear quartz.  So the father and son duo were not skunked and finding crystals right away!  Cool!

Nice phantom white quartz under the secondary growth of clear quartz

Nice phantom white quartz under the secondary growth of clear quartz

Soon there after Charlotte started pulling out really nice crystals from her seam she was excavating.  I can’t image getting bored of pulling crystals out of a pocket, but Charlotte wanted to ensure that everyone had a chance to pull out some nice crystals showing her kindness and generosity as the trip leader.  So many of us took turns at pulling out crystals from her pocket! :)  I found a really nice double terminated cluster, but I had to give that to Charlotte as a memento from the pocket she discovered!  I pulled out some great points and a couple small clusters!

Uncleaned quartz crystal from Red Feather Lakes

None of the quartz has been cleaned yet; I have a handful that are in the acid bath queue.

Interesting crystal form

Interesting crystal form

Large quartz, I cannot find the two crystals that were once next to this.

Large quartz, I cannot find the two crystals that were once next to this as seen by the matrix bottom.  This was the last crystal I pulled from the seam as it was opening up into the main part of the pocket (of course we didn’t’ know that yet!)

Meanwhile my dad returned from the other claim with many nice small clear crystals.  It became his turn and he was able to pull crystals out as the pocket bottomed out.  He was able to keep several amazing clusters from the pocket that kept giving!

Red Feather Lakes quartz cluster

Wonderful cluster from near the end of the pocket. My dad extracted this and another similarly amazing cluster

Dad has some nice crystals and when he gets some photos I will upload them here.  Meanwhile, I took some shots before I left; he has a couple of nice pieces of matrix that hopefully he has the crystals to repair to make a couple more stellar clusters!

Great quartz crystals from Red Feather  Lakes Colorado

Both amazing clusters, quickly washed with the garden hose.

Gotta love the fall colors while enjoying the forest and rockhounding in Colorado!

Gotta love the fall colors while enjoying the forest and rockhounding in Colorado!

All in all it was an incredibly fun day meeting many great folks from the Flatirons Mineral Club!  I hope to be able to dig with these folks again in the future!  Thanks to the owner of the claims for making this a fantastic rockhounding adventure in Colorado!

Red Feather Lakes Quartz

My turn at Charlotte’s Pocket pickin’ Red Feather Lakes quartz crystals.

 

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Rockhound’s Guide to Identifying Federal Mining Claims

Federal Mining Claims are granted to US Citizens for the purpose of extracting the minerals for commercial gain.  Rockhounding does not require a mining claim, however Rockhounds cannot mineral trespass on active mining claims.

The BLM’s Guide to Rockhounding is helpful for defining the general rules and responsibilities for Rockhounding.  The BLM’s Guide to Mining Claims defines the claim owner’s responsibility to clearly mark their claim so that Rockhounds have the ability to know where they can dig.  As part of maintaining a claim, the claim owner has to agree to erect corner posts/markings on the claim site:

The undersigned testifies all monuments required by law were erected upon the subject claim(s), and all notices required by law were posted on the subject claim(s) or copies thereof were in place, and at said date, each corner monument bore or contained markings sufficient to appropriately designate the corner of the claim to which it pertains and the name of the claim(s).

Note that a mining claim only grants mineral rights to the claim owner, it still is public land and unless there are dangers (which will be clearly marked) citizens still can use our land.

In my prospecting I have seen several types of markings for Federal Mining Claims.  As a rockhound I appreciate when the claim owner posts documentation on each of the corner posts with GPS coordinates so I can quickly identify the claim boundaries in my GPS unit.  I appreciate when on the road into the claim or near pits/digs there is an obvious posting on a tree stating that the area is claimed.  I’ve seen center/side posts erected which is helpful too!  The easier the claim owner makes it to let the Rockhound know where the claim is the easier it is to not have accidents.

Corner post including paperwork on this federal mining claim

Corner post including paperwork on this federal mining claim

That said, I know that many times claim markers are tampered with, sometimes completely removed.  I have talked with many claim owners that have to deal with marking their claims over and over again because the markers are removed or vandalized.  Thus, I have learned how to do a little extra research before I head out to help me know when there are claims in the area that I will be prospecting.

When prospecting an area I always look for claim markers and signs, and if I find a place I want to get serious about digging I typically pull off the pack and take a walk around looking for corner posts in one direction.  A little internet research ahead of time will also help in knowing how much hiking I want to do to ensure I’m not on a claim.

The BLM provides Federal Mining Claim information online for free at LR 2000 website. If you look at the BLM Mining Claim packet, and their online help, they recommend to use the Pub MC (Mining Claim) Geo Report.  This report requires that you know a little bit about the area you want to search, specifically the MTR or Meridian Township Range, the Administration State, and the Case Disposition (Active, Closed, etc).  So as an example, I will show how I would identify active claims at one of my favorite areas in Colorado, Devils Head.

For this example, I already know the Administration State (Colorado) and Case Disposition (Active), but I need to find the MTR(s) that I want to research.  I do this by visiting another BLM site GeoCommunicator.  From the menu on the left side of the webpage I choose Interactive Maps and then All Layers.  A map displays allowing me to drill into the area I am interested in.  I then use the toolbar to choose the Identify option.

After zooming in, I choose the Identify icon in the toolbar

After zooming in, I choose the Identify icon in the toolbar

Then I click on the map to identify the Township where I’m interested in.  You can click the checkbox in the information box and it will outline the entire township visually.

Clicking somewhere on the map places the marker, then I check the Township box to show the township where you are researching federal mining claims

Clicking somewhere on the map places the marker, then I check the Township box to show the township where you are researching federal mining claims

I then repeat for as many townships as I want to research in the LR2000 database.

I continue to identify spots and check its Township until I have all the areas I want to research for federal mining claims

I continue to identify spots and check its Township until I have all the areas I want to research for federal mining claims

 Now I have 6 townships that I want to research identified.  The format is (for example the lower left):

  • State:  CO
  • Meridian:  06
  • Township:  10 South
  • Range:  69 West

Now I can enter the required fields in the Pub MC Geo Report on the LR 2000 website. The first thing I do on the LR2000 Reporting website is to select the criteria I want to use.  Obviously you don’t get a choice with State and Case Disposition, but for the other required field I choose MTR (Meridian, Township & Range) and then click the Select Criteria button.

I choose the MTR option for reporting, which is the most general requirement for researching federal mining claims database

I choose the MTR option for reporting, which is the most general requirement for researching federal mining claims database

Click the Set button to set each of the criteria.  For the MTR, you use the drop-down to select Meridian (06 – 6th PM) and then enter your Township (plus direction from the list) and Range (plus the direction from the list) and click the Add to MTR List button.  Do this for each of the MTRs you want to research, in my case I chose all six I found on the GeoCommunicator site.  NOTE, if you want to select multiple dispositions (for example, active and closed, hold the CTRL key and click all the options you want).

Select the state (CO) and disposition (ACTIVE) and then use the tool to add the MTRs

Select the state (CO) and disposition (ACTIVE) and then use the tool to add the MTRs

Now it is time to run the report by clicking the Run Report button.  I have noticed you may have to click it again if the pop-up window does not show up.  NOTE that this site uses pop-ups, so ensure that your pop-up blocker doesn’t suppress the report output window!!!  You will see a pop up with all your selected criteria and then another window will appear with all the claims in the area.

Ensure all values are uppercase, and click ok to run the report against the BLM's Oracle/Hyperion database.

Ensure all values are uppercase, and click ok to run the report against the BLM’s Oracle/Hyperion database.

The output doesn’t tell you the GPS coordinates of the claim, but it will tell you the Section and Subdivision along with the claim’s details including MTRS, name, serial number and information about the claim holder.  If you refer back to the GeoCommunicator website, the identify information “window” will let you drill into detailed information that will say what Section (the ‘S’ in MTRS) your identified point is in.

Pressing the Identify link (highlighted) will take you to more detail on this location.

Pressing the Identify link (highlighted) will take you to more detail on this location.

Click on the PLSS tab to see the section (the 'S' in MTRS) that your location is on.

Click on the PLSS tab to see the section (the ‘S’ in MTRS) that your location is on, in this example section is 029.  You will see this in the LR2000 database (if recorded) to know if your location on the map is in the same section as the claim.

As far as I have found, this is as detailed as you can get, but it will get you in the ballpark of where the claim(s) exists; and then you can visit the area in person and identify the claim by the corner posts that should clearly identify the claim name and which corner post you are looking at.

Please comment if you have other useful ways to identify federal mining claims.  Happy Rockhounding!

Rampart Range Prospecting

Did some digging today on the Rampart Range area on the Northeast side of the Pikes Peak Batholith.  This location is known for mainly Smoky Quartz but also sometimes Amazonite and Topaz crystals.  I started off prospecting a new area and did not find much so I wandered off to an old pegmatite I have worked in the past and went further into the zone I had found some crystals in previous years.  I was lucky today and found many smokey quartz including a couple of small plates, and some weak colored and shaped Amazonite.

I originally came upon this area as I saw some loose pegmatite upon the ground that was somewhat graphic.  Graphic granite is where the crystallization gets more pronounced and starts to get shapes and facets on one or many sides.  I was pulling large (50+ pounds) chunks of pegmatite out of the ground and then I came upon a zone that was much smaller chunks of rock.  After pulling out a couple of pieces smoky quartz started to fall out and then I saw a ceiling plate with a crystal intact.  This plate was about 20 pounds so I left it; but I did bring home two plates intact and was able to find 5 crystals that fit back into place…which was worth the haul of these very heavy rocks to the car.

I plan to hit this site one more time as I want to ensure the pocket pinched out, which it appeared to do; but the previous seam of crystals I found along this pegmatite did the same thing, so it obviously opened up a couple times.

Part of the top plate of the small pocket.  This crystal had fallen off but I was able to repair it.

Part of the top plate of the small pocket. This crystal had fallen off but I was able to repair it.

Another view of the top plate in the main part of the pocket!

Another view of the top plate in the main part of the pocket!

This was along the bottom of the pocket

This was along the bottom of the pocket

These two were repaired back together

These two were repaired back together

I love the point on this one.

I love the point on this one.

Nice crystal

Nice crystal

This crystal is mostly gemmy inside.

This crystal is mostly gemmy inside.

Kinda odd facets, but awesome crystal.

Kinda odd facets, but awesome crystal.

Nice large crystal.

Nice large crystal.

Love this point!

Love this point!

Some of the repaired and larger crystals; many or gemmy

Some of the repaired and larger crystals; many or gemmy

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These are mostly gemmy

These are mostly gemmy

Smaller but gemmy crystals!

Smaller but gemmy crystals!

Part of the larger bottom plate near the center of the pocket.

Part of the larger bottom plate near the center of the pocket.

Some light colored Amazonite crystals.

Some light colored Amazonite crystals.

These will require a long soaking; but I kinda like them as is...

These will require a long soaking; but I kinda like them as is…

 

Port Alberni British Columbia Salmon Festival

Went again this year for the 43rd Annual Port Alberni Salmon Festival with friends in British Columbia.  This is my 3rd year fishing in this large Labor Day weekend fishing Derby.  I took Hunter on his first major fishing trip and we had a blast.  Our hosts put together an amazing trip and provided top notch service on their fishing boats!  This is a trip of a lifetime and we had a wonderful time, fished with some excellent fishermen, and made some new friends.  We stayed at an amazing resort in Bamfield called Mills Landing, which I highly recommend!  They had very nice fish processing facilities and super friendly and knowledgeable hosts!

Hunter and I caught our bag limit of fish and was able to bring a good amount home for the freezer.  We had salmon for dinner the first night home and it is amazing!  Love the pink/orange look whenever we open the deep freezer!

The weather was great overall; one day was partly sunny and the swells were overall small; some days non-existent.  I’m prone to motion sickness (I can’t read my phone in the car) and at one point I caught up with a bit of nausea; Hunter had sea legs all the way home; but overall we did well in that department too!

We fished mostly with anchovies hooked up to a plastic head which allowed us to position the bait such that it “rolled” in the water.  The roll is important and needs to be nice and sexy for the big fish to have interest.  Then up the line was a plastic flasher/dodger which rotated in the water flashing sunlight in about 4 foot (or larger) circles in the water.  The line was clipped to a 10 pound downrigger attached to the side of the boat; and we fished anywhere from 65 to 25 feet under the surface.

First, the fish.  We caught anywhere from 5 to 10.5 pound Coho salmon, and small to 20 lb Chinook this year.  We caught numerous black bass fish that we didn’t know were on the line for a while; and since those were DOA we fed them to the eagles which was a lot of fun to see.

Click image for larger size.

Hunter and his big fish of the trip; this took a while for him to land...but worth it!  20 lb Chinook (Spring).

Dave's first Coho of the trip

Hunter's first fish, a 10 lb Coho

Steve and one of his fish.  He organized one hell of a fun trip! Thanks!

 

John taking care of tackle on his fishing boat!

John taking care of tackle on his fishing boat!

Fisherman during the Port Alberni Salmon Festival

Fisherman during the Port Alberni Salmon Festival

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Beach and cave on Fleming Island.

Beach and cave on Fleming Island.

Secret beach on Fleming Island.

Secret beach on Fleming Island.

Common view as we were fishing.

Common view as we were fishing.

Overcast day looking through a straight near Fleming Island.

Overcast day looking through a straight near Fleming Island.

You'd think they get a little bit of a breeze?

You’d think they get a little bit of a breeze?

Cool cottage!

Cool cottage!

Nice sunset from Red's Reef.

Nice sunset from Red’s Reef.

Another wonderful sunset in BC

Another wonderful sunset in BC

Great sunset over the Broken Islands.

Great sunset over the Broken Islands.

We had some sunny skies one afternoon, and some convection!

Over the Broken Islands

Over the Broken Islands

Eagles are part of the fun while the fishing is slow!

Eagles are part of the fun while the fishing is slow!

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Zeroed in on the prize.

Zeroed in on the prize.

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Eagles where everywhere, just look in the trees for a white dot.

Eagles where everywhere, just look in the trees for a white dot.

This eagle was perched above the main dock in Bamfield.

This eagle was perched above the main dock in Bamfield.

Landmark island from Kirby fishing area.

Landmark island from Kirby fishing area.

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Interesting "rainbow" feature from the airplane over Washington state.

Interesting “rainbow” feature from the airplane over Washington state.

Heart lake?

Love Lake?

 

Larkspur Lightning

I have been feeling under the weather all weekend and was dozing off when I thought I heard a rumble of thunder.  As always, that sound just does something to ignite my senses and I sat while awaiting another bolt.  A couple of minutes later one hit less than a mile away lighting up the entire sky and trees.  I quickly grabbed the camera and was able to grab some shots as the storm quickly intensified and headed east.  I can’t say I “chased” this storm, but it was nice to have a break of the doldrums of being sick.

From the back porch, the orange is Castle Rock (yuck) and the violet is the storm.

From the back porch, the orange is Castle Rock (yuck) and the violet is the storm.

tn_LightningAug24-0341 tn_LightningAug24-0343 tn_LightningAug24-0354 tn_LightningAug24-0357

This one was interesting because it looked like a bat when i zoomed into the lightning.  Interesting cloud formation...

This one was interesting because it looked like a bat when i zoomed into the lightning. Interesting cloud formation…

tn_LightningAug24-0361 tn_LightningAug24-0362 tn_LightningAug24-0371

Supermoon & Geminids August 2014

It’s a couple days before the peak of the Geminids, one of my favorite meteorite showers I watch each year.  Fortunately and unfortunately the supermoon is full and setting right after dawn each morning, so the sky and ground is filled with lunar light!  I saw a couple of shooters but they were not as brilliant as usual due to the lunar light.

As I watched the sky, I realized the amount of nighttime light was probably how most folks in the suburbs see the sky on a good night!  I’m reminded how spoiled I am to live where I do on the Palmer Divide at nearly 7000 feet above sea level, in the forest far away from the city!

Perseids

2014 Perseids Shooting Star

Perseids shooting star

Perseids shooter over Cassiopeia. Very bright, about 1+ second.

Supermoon 2014

Supermoon August 11, 2014