Last night the wife and I were up late watching Christmas movies (OK we actually watched Machete after realizing there nothing good on TV) so this morning would have been a highly appropriate time to sleep in before embarking on our holiday travel to see our families up north. I woke up at 7:15, however, and peeped outside through the blinds. I saw a sight that I haven’t seen in a couple weeks: a dark but promising turquoise sky! I realized that it was the first clear sky morning after a long streak full of overcast skies and wet air. Given that it was a Saturday morning, especially, I hopped on the bike and headed down to UDF for a $1 refill and was on my way.
Given that I had a bit more time this morning I decided to head on down into the valley to check out Lunken Airfield’s bike trail. It’s a spot that I do love visiting, but it’s about a 20 minute bike ride to my favorite bench that looks out over the airfield under the open sky, so with these late 8:00am sunrises it’s a bit difficult for me to make it down there during the week and still have a reasonable expectation of getting to work on time. There was no traffic on the roads this morning, which I found both surprising because I’d expect to see holiday traffic, but also appropriate since most people are on holiday today.
It was quite chilly this morning, with very high humidity and around 27F. The dew point was estimated to be roughly the same as the ambient temperature so I was actually very surprised that there was no fog. By the time I arrived at Lunken Airfield, however, I realized that the sun has drifted rather far to the right. The sun ended up being hidden behind the Little Miami River Levee for the first fifteen minutes after sunrise. I ended up getting in a nice little workout by biking around the five mile loop that surrounds the airfield. It’s a rare treat that I get to shift up higher than second gear in my bike since I tend to ride mostly along the hill sides in Eastern Cincinnati, so the quicker pace was a welcomed change to the morning routine. Although I still had to climb back up the hill to get back to Mt. Lookout!
I arrived at Lunken Airfield about 15 minutes before sunrise. The bright aura of the impending sunrise had already faded, and the sky had lost most of its turquoise shade. This giant tree sits right next to the air strips and is about the same height as all the other trees located on the Eastern side of the airport throughout Reeve’s golf course. I made the realization that this winter I should try to make it to the golf course at least a handful of times because where else are there such magnificent trees that stand by themselves, making the perfect silhouette candidates, than in an old golf course?
The sun is already up but we can’t see it! The highlights of the vapor trails were becoming incredibly bright as the sun popped up over the horizon behind heavily forested the Little Miami River levee.
As I started along the bike trail, I noticed this secret entrance. I imagine the workers of the yard in the background use this to access the trail to get a job in after work. That’s one great thing about winter – the forest reveals many secrets that are hidden during the summer. Soon… very soon I hope to hunt down the ruins of the Mt. Adams Incline (and perhaps the Bellevue Hill Incline as well) that will no doubt be a bit easier to find with the leaves off of the trees.
For the rest of the pictures, including the strange lock platforms at Lunken Levee, please click to continue if you’re on the front page! (more…)
After a solid week of drizzly, wet, gray, and cloudy skies, I finally tried to get back out before the weekend in the hopes that there might be a lucky break in the clouds. Yesterday was Winter Solstice and I had really hoped to get a decent chance at a sunrise, but unfortunately mother weather had different plans. I didn’t end up making it out yesterday, during the true solstice which was gray and wet. This morning, one day later than the true solstice, a friend of mine ended up coming out with me. Griff and his wife were in town for the holidays from Texas and he joined me as we climbed up the hill to Ault Park.
Griff made an interesting observation that a gray overcast sky is quite rare in Houston Texas since the weather is constantly moving clouds through the area. That’s an interesting observation because a bright gray sky really does add a different dimension to the daily routine.
Thanks again for coming out, Griff! And thanks for both days of sunrise pictures, Scott! Interestingly enough, this is the third out of four sunrise entries have all coincidentally fallen on days when I had a guest come with me to Ault Park. (Here’s the final link to the other guest sunrise that didn’t include an in-person guest, unless you count prankster snowmen)
Scott actually sent me two sets of sunrise pictures. He tried to get the sunrise yesterday but he had a camera malfunction at the worst possible time. He ended up getting a couple of neat dramatic pictures of the twilight sky. He got much more lucky than we did this morning, however, because he was able to catch the sunrise through a break in the cloud bank. The second set of pictures are from Griff on his cell phone this morning at Ault Park.
Guest Sunrise #1 & #2: Scott from Charleston, South Carolina
First and foremost, the best picture of this entire post was taken this morning for Scott’s second attempt at the sunrise. Scott got lucky with a break in the clouds! A sunrise on the first day after Winter Solstice in Charleston, South Carolina.
Taken yesterday, a pre-sunrise shot of the intercoastal waterways that are a famous marker of South Carolina’s coastline
Guest Sunrise #3: Griff in Cincinnati, OH
I checked the forecast last night and was surprised to see that the entire week is expected to be overcast and gloomy. It appears our streak of beautiful clear autumn skies is officially over as we break into the winter season. With last week being mostly filled with cloudy and wet mornings, it appears that this week will be no exception. This isn’t to say that there may not be a surprise or two hidden in the weather pattern, however. The forecast has been particularly shaky over the course of this season transition so I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there may be some gems hidden in the upcoming week. Even a slight break in a cloudy pattern can make for a spectacular sunrise because of the unpredictable dynamics that a cloudy sky provides.
This morning, however, was the only day for the entire week that there was an expectation of relatively clear skies. The forecast said 19% cloud cover which is a great bet considering that I can get lucky with up to 60% cloud cover. I went to bed looking up at a clear sky and woke up to a dark gray atmosphere of the kind you’d expect to be brooding a winter storm. I was a bit disappointed, but seeing as how today is Free Coffee Refill Day @ UDF (every Monday!) I decided to check it out anyway in the hopes that something may change. Interestingly enough, Mt. Lookout Square is kind of in a valley so it can be hard to judge what the distant horizon is up to without actually getting up to Ault or Alms Park.
By the time I was leaving Mt. Lookout Square, the sky had shown no signs of light and the sunrise time was just around the corner. I took the “long way” to Ault Park, up through some extra neighborhood hills just to keep my cardiovascular system in check as we head into winter hibernation. Once I passed the Cincinnati Observatory, however, I could see that the eastern sky was up to something. The bare trees provided a view that suggested that it was time to high tail it up to the overlook. I dropped the trusty old Fuji into high gear (OK second gear, who am I kidding with these hills) and pressed onward to the overlook hoping that I wouldn’t miss the show.
As it turned out, the eastern horizon was beginning to light up in a magnificent shade of fuchsia unlike one that I’ve seen so far in this project. A rare sight, indeed. The pictures unfortunately do not do it justice because it was as if the entire lower atmosphere was ablaze with a hot pink fire. The color did not spread into the upper atmosphere and was contained by the breaking cloud front that only temporarily was giving up control of the eastern sky. There was a faint mist across the Valley that served to accentuate the bright light. I arrived at the overlook in time, and just as quickly as the fuchsia show arrived, it dwindled into a muted gray/orange sunrise.
As a completely unrelated note, while I was going through the pictures on the camera I realized that I had forgotten to include some documentation from a recent Hot Air Balloon Festival (Balluminaria) at Eden Park. I was hoping to get back up to Eden Park to continue the exploration of the reservoir ruins, but it hasn’t happened yet. Rather than wait for that to happen and include the pictures there, I’m posting the pictures along with Sunrise 130.
This was our first time attending the Balluminaria and it was a neat thing to partake in. The balloons lit up as dusk settled in. It was pretty crazy to see the thousands of people descent on Eden Park for the event that took place November 17 2011. I’m not sure if they have two separate fuels, one for hot air and one for light, but there was a distinct difference between the flames that kept the balloons inflated and the flames that lit up the canopy.
Songbirds preparing for winter. The amount of bird activity in the park this morning was unusually high. Red headed woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays, robins and mourning doves, crows, and chick-a-dees to name a few.
The forecast must be a bit harder to predict during the seasonal change. This is two mornings in a row now that I would have expected a decent sunrise but instead was met with a dark cloudy sky. The forecast had mentioned a 38% cloud cover which should have given me a beautiful dynamic sunrise sky. Instead I got a dark winter atmosphere that eventually broke a little bit as I was heading home.
In fact, it was so dark this morning that half of my pictures seemed to come out a bit blurry. Oops! Some days are like that though and it really makes me appreciate the brighter days that make the pictures turn out so well! That’s the one thing about this camera, for all it’s great qualities, that could use some improvement. It’s hard to get a decent macro picture in low light, even while resting the camera on the ground. This is a bit of a “light” post because we’re about to head up north for some good old fashioned family Christmas festivities. Thanks for reading!
Be sure to check out about halfway through this post where I cover some light ideas regarding the vineyard history in Cincinnati and a future “Cincinnati Vineyard Sunrise” series.
For the rest of this post, including all 17 pictures and the old stone structures at Ault Park, please click to continue if you’re on the front page! (more…)
This week started off with a great sunrise. Some friends of ours stopped by last night before heading back home to San Francisco. Trent decided to come along with me this morning on the ride up to the park. It was a cold ride, but there was a decent amount of light cloud action in the lower atmosphere to provide some nice dynamics. We also happened to catch the tail end of the Mt. Lookout Luminary, an annual community event that raises money for the local council. Technically the luminary was last night so the candles were all used up by the time we found them this morning.
I also have the first European guest sunrise from Laura in Estonia. Thanks Laura!
A high-resolution picture of Frozen Dew Crystals on the previously shown clover leaf! Note the even spacing of the small crystals. My friend lee suggested that the clover may release a waxy oil which would cause the water to bead up. I’m not exactly sure what is causing it, but it’s a very neat effect. For the rest of the macro crystal shots, be sure to read the full post (they’re at the bottom!).
This morning almost didn’t happen. I woke up at 7:00am and attempted to shrug off the biochemical cocktail that almost convinced me that the sky was overcast and it wasn’t worth riding up to the park in 25F (note to biochemical self: it always is!). I poked my head out the front of our apartment building and noticed a patch of blue skies through a tiled cloud layer. Ok! Game on! As it turned out my bet was well placed. For a 72% cloud cover, this morning’s atmosphere was certainly atypical!
This morning’s sunrise was not unlike Sunrise 9, although with a bit less drama. Sunrise 9, back in April, is a classic example of a dynamic sunrise with a low lying cloud bank and an overhead light layer of clouds that can provide lots of interesting color dynamics. Here’s the picture from Sunrise 9 that stands out as one of my favorites of the project and also was printed in the local paper at the start of this project (click for higher resolution):
(As it turns out, 92 people “recommended” that article on Facebook. I had no idea! Thanks whoever you are!)
This morning I headed up to Alms Park in search of a twilight sunrise. Now that I’m more aware of how much fun the twilight period can be of a sunrise, I’ve taken a liking to getting up about a half hour early to catch the show. This is an advantage of the “late” sunrises of the Fall and Winter that I had not considered until now! On mostly clear mornings I can catch the pre-game show which can start as early as an hour before sunrise on a dry clear sky morning. That puts me in the park at 6:45am at the earliest, quite a reasonable time. During the middle of June this would put me in the park at 5:00am!
The atmosphere was interesting for Sunrise 127. There was the remnants of a dark cloudy layer overhead that I was certain would mess up the sunrise. However once I started on my way to the park, it was obvious that the cloud bank was being pushed out of the eastern sky to reveal a dark navy clear atmosphere. There was a low lying bank of haze just above the horizon in the distance that kept the sunlight at bay, preventing penetration into the upper atmosphere. This made for a dynamic purple/orange sky but there were no real traces of the magenta highlights that I was hoping to catch after missing them several sunrises in a row.
There is a final reason that I have found to enjoy these ice cold sunrises. During the day when the temperature rises up to the 40s, 50s, and even the 60s, the air starts to saturate with the water from the Little Miami River and the great Ohio River. At night as the temperature drops into the 20s (welcome to Ohio!) the water is pushed out from the air and is subsequently frozen. The ice crystals from the foggy days are thick because of the high water concentration, but the crystals from this morning were smaller and cubed. In fact with this little point-and-shoot it’s possible to see the geometric nature of the crystals which was surprising to me when I zoomed in on the LCD screen.
I approached Alms Park and arrived roughly 25 minutes before sunrise. Yesterday the sky was much brighter at this time than today due to the upper cloud layer and the low lying haze bank that obscured part of the early light.
For the rest of the pictures, if you’re on the front page, click to continue. 18 total including more ice crystal macro shots. (more…)
There is something that I’ve learned about the sunrise through the course of pursuing this project. It stems from the differences that I’ve found in analyzing the various “species” of sunrise. What I have found, specifically, is how different a clear sky sunrise is from a sunrise whose sky is filled with clouds. If it is particularly humid it is even more drastic because humidity tends to draw out the sunrise color evolution so a cloudy humid sunrise has most of its color display after “first light”. The clear sky sunrises, however, have a tendency to get too bright too quickly so most of the subtle color changes occur before “first light”. This is especially true on a non-humid day, where the first blast of sun light can be almost blinding! This morning’s sunrise was one of the “humid clear sky” type, so the color display was present but the sun did not immediately take on a yellow hue and instead stayed a deep shade of red as it rose up over the horizon.
The main difference about these clear sky sunrises, which dominated most of the summer mornings when we weren’t having thunderstorms, and most of the autumn mornings when we weren’t getting invasions of winter rain fronts, is that often times the best colors occur 15, 20, or even 30 minutes before the expected sunrise time. If there is even a hint of cloud activity in the sky, you can see deep purple and magenta highlights across the clouds in the upper atmosphere as early as 40 minutes before sunrise as the curvature of the earth provides a glimpse of the upcoming sunrise. The colors can start off high in the atmosphere and swing down to the horizon quickly, and they can be gone in a matter of minutes as I found out the hard way a few days ago.
So this morning I decided to get up earlier than usual since the forecast had me getting excited over the possibility of clear skies. I arrived at the overlook by 7:20am, a full 28 minutes before sunrise. I was surprised to find that the ambient light was already bright enough where I had no trouble seeing with the naked eye. In fact, I could have arrived 20 minutes earlier and still had plenty of atmospheric color shifting to watch. As I look at the sunrise calendar, I see that “Civil Twilight” started at 7:14am. I am coming to realize that this is probably a good indicator of when one should attempt to “show up” to observe the full evolution of a clear sky sunrise. Today’s sunrise was actually quite humid, evident by the “red globe” effect that the sun appeared with, rather than the “bright blinding yellow light” effect that a dry sunrise with clear skies would produce. I would even venture to say that the Nautical Twilight time of 6:41am would have been an appropriate time to show up this morning. Heck, on a completely dry day where the first light would penetrate deep into the atmosphere, the Astronomical Twilight time of 6:08am would not be a bad idea, although that would take some serious commitment.
7:23am; 25 minutes before sunrise and 10 minutes after the start of “Civil Twilight“. No, that link does not take you to a page about vampires, I promise!
Twilight over the Little Miami River Valley. Check out the standing water down in the fertile corn fields. I’m surprised that there was no fog this morning considering that there has been 3 days of raining followed by a clear morning. But the fog must have been just around the corner given the high humidity in the atmosphere.
First Light: Sunrise 126. These high humid sunrises are kind of funny because it isn’t like the drama-queen low-humidity sunrises that alert you of their impending arrival by presenting their region of the sky with a bright orange and yellow aura 5 or 6 minutes before they actually waltz in the door. Nope, these deep blood red humid sunrises sneak up on you. I’ll look away for a quick minute, or fill up my coffee cup, and I look up and am lightly shocked to see the tip of the sun peeking out from behind the far ridge line, without an entourage or dramatic display of color.
A close-up of the sun rising over the Little Miami River Valley. Note the deeper reds and purples still in the sky just above the horizon, as if the sunlight can’t penetrate very far into the atmosphere. Compare this to a similar picture of a less humid sunrise.
Please stay tuned for tomorrow’s sunrise. It’s currently forecasted at 68% cloud cover, which means I could get lucky and get a dramatic sunrise for the first time in months!
The members of the band “Let It Happen“, whom I ran into at Ault Park this morning while they were filming for a music video @ Heekin Overlook.
This morning was another “surprise” sunrise and I’m very glad that I made it happen! I didn’t set my alarm this morning but my body woke up at 7:15am when nature called me from my slumber. I was already awake and I saw mostly clear skies out the window, so I had no excuse to miss the sunrise at 7:40am! This is the second day in a row that I made it up to the sunrise without setting an alarm because yesterday my pal “Hudson the Dog” had my back and woke me up just in time. It was really warm out there, too. Surprisingly warm. It’s 52F at the time of this writing. Was it just a couple days ago that I bundled up for a 20F sunrise? Weather in the midwest can keep you on your toes 🙂
This morning was quite the experience. Aside from the normal moody sunrise that was of a “species” not seen for months, I also met the members of the band Let It Happen. That’s another first! I’ve found that while it is relatively rare to find other sunrise cowboys and cowgirls during the week, Saturday and Sunday mornings make for great opportunities to have a social sunrise. The guys were filming for their new music video. I met them and told them about Ault Park Sunrise (I’m trying to be better at self-promotion, hah). Let It Happen is currently on tour and you can check out their website, myspace, twitter, and facebook page. Whew, all social bases covered. Thanks again for humoring me, gentlemen, and good luck on your tour and all your other endeavors! Check out their EP which available on iTunes for $5. You can listen to it for free on their website as well.
It would have been interesting if stars had aligned just a bit differently because I came up with an idea a few weeks ago that I would have loved to have tried out this morning. The sunrise was certainly a great display, but after all of the clear sky sunrises that we’ve been having this fall it would have been neat to be able to get a silhouette type picture against the sunrise gradient sky. I think that’s something that I’d like to start doing more of – silhouettes of people against a clear sky similar to my favorite picture of the project that I took two weeks ago at Eden Park:
More on this “silhouette series” later!
The sunrise this morning was moody and constantly changing, a sign of new weather to come. This fall so far I have experienced a distinct pattern: overcast, clear skies, overcast, clear skies, fog fog, clear skies. Basically the sunrises have been mostly “all or nothing” without the changing dynamically shaded cumulus clouds that were present so much in the spring.. It makes sense to expect that in the winter on the symmetrical opposite end of the seasonal change from spring that we’d find more “dynamic” skies. The truly unfortunate part about the sunrise, however, was that I think I missed the best part! The videographer of the band confirmed my suspision. When I was climbing to the park I could see through the trees that there was a hell of a show going on in the eastern skies. From what I could tell, there was almost no light being cast into the upper atmosphere, but the lower horizon was bursting with bright pink, deep purple, and all kinds of hazy reds. The mid atmospheric clouds had those hot magenta highlights that fade to deep purple, all while the backdrop to this display was fading to a light blue from a deep twilight navy. I did not stop to take a picture because I had hoped that I’d arrive to the overlook in time, but alas, I missed the show. It’s amazing how that works with these sunrises – the pre-dawn display comes and goes so quickly and depending on the cloud formations, it can be a narrow windows of 30 seconds or a wider window of 5-7 minutes. It just depends on the weather!
The clouds were moving quickly through the sky and the sun never did punch through the low lying cloud bank. As I previously mentioned, I think the best part of the show was about 15 minutes before sunrise.
For the rest of the pictures (15 total), please click to continue. That’s only if you’re on the front page… (more…)
The entrance to the Art Deco Krohn Conservatory at the end of the Holiday Tree Lighting party. Check out the parallel lines, a signature of the style. Also note the humidity dripping from the glass panels.
The atmosphere this morning was foggy for the second day in a row. I’m beginning to wonder if we’re close to setting the record if such a thing ever existed. I could see the sunrise’s deep red glow from Mt. Lookout Square, where I stopped by UDF to get a coffee refill, but by the time I climbed up to the park the fog had blown in from from the valley. The fog started to get thick as soon as I entered the park.
The strange thing that really stuck out to me this morning was the bird activity in the park. It was almost as if today was the day that the swarms of birds chose to gather in Ault Park before heading south for the winter. I have no idea of sparrows or crows migrate, but both birds were present in outstanding numbers this morning, filling up the sky and making a whole ruckus of noise! I even have a video of the “Murder of Crows”. There were at least 100 (I took a video) crows high in the trees this morning and their silhouettes were easy to find against the bright white background and naked branches. I’ve seen a handful at a time of these giant birds at the forest’s edge looking out over the valley, but this morning the murder moved together in a loud, squaking, organized group. I could hear them even as they moved deep into the forest even though they were hidden by the fog.
Last night the wife and I visited Krohn Conservatory in Mt. Adam’s Eden Park for their annual tree lighting ceremony. It was a really great time and there was excellent food and drinks. If you’re local to Cincinnati I highly recommend joining the Cincinnati Parks volunteer program because you get to hang out with some neat people and get invited to events like this at the Krohn :). The Krohn has a neat holiday display this year. A group came in and created a miniature train display that highlights several local Cincinnati landmarks as well as a few international ones. The trains glide around the fantasy landscape that is filled with the temporary holiday flowers and plants as well as the permanent citrus trees. The Krohn Conservatory is such a great building and we’re lucky to have it!
The giant pine lit @ Krohn. If you love plants like I do, be sure to pay the Krohn as many visits as you can! Especially at NIGHT during the winter. When you walk into the dark humid tropic room as ice crystals form on the green house panels, you feel like you’ve entered another world.
If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. 17 pictures total for this morning, including the video of those crazy crows… (more…)
After yesterday’s sunrise fakeout, I was excited to head up to the park this morning for the first clear sunrise of the week. The forecast was pretty much dead on – low 20s (-5C) with clear skies. I climbed up to the park about 20 minutes early and poked around by the edge of the forest to try and find candidates for some silhouette pictures against the dawn sky. I found a couple, including the lone tree by the pavilion. There was actually a couple joggers in the park this morning putting up with the cold. I bundled myself up with the usual gear: thick gloves, hooded sweatshirt, insulated wind breaker pants, and a knitted UC hat. I did, however, have one piece of extra armor (pun unintentional, but it certainly works!) this morning that made a huge difference. I borrowed the wife unit’s winter under armor shirt after her suggestion, and it really did make a huge difference. I was skeptical at first because of how thin it is (and that I can’t wear an undershirt with it!) but it really does a good job at trapping body heat and presumably releasing moisture. I felt cozy at the overlook this morning rather than miserable. I may have to get some winter gear for myself!
Lots of upper atmospheric plane activity today. When the weather is cloudy you don’t think about how many planes are scooting along up there, but on a clear morning with the dawn light reflecting from the vapor trails it becomes apparent just how busy the sky is. I counted at least 5 in the sky this morning at sunrise, silently gliding across the atmosphere.
Interestingly enough, we can see that the sun has moved to the right of the water tower. I didn’t know if it would make it this far to the right on the horizon but it shows no signs of slowing down. Sometime in the past week the sun would have risen up exactly behind the water tower, too bad the overcast mornings hid it from view!