Saturday, January 30, 2010

Year's biggest moon and the passing clouds

Purchase a print | Friday night's full moon appeared to be the biggest and brightest of any in 2010. Earth's natural satellite was at its perigee, or closest approach to Earth. After getting home from work, I photographed the moon when it was high in the night sky. The shutter for the above shot was open for 2 minutes and 36 seconds, so the clouds appear streaky underneath a halo-encircled moon.

Purchase a print | These altocumulous clouds quickly approached from the west and built into a thick layer in the short time I was outside. This mackerel sky foreshadowed a cold front and stormy weather to come Saturday.

The clouds eventually became thick, dark and eerie, effectively hindering my view of the moon.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snow search in Appalachia | Carolina's back roads and the treacherous Smokies

The high point of U.S. 441 over Newfound Gap, in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, features the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. I never thought that I'd set foot in Tennessee for the first time while it was snowing.

In addition to spontaneous, my long-weekend trip north was foolhardy. There's an advantage to having no plans, no schedule to be at a certain place - a certain hotel in a certain town - at a certain time. I could be deliberate, stop when I felt hungry and take photos if something caught my eye.

But having no certain route to follow through Appalachia, where often-dangerous back roads abound, could be considered rash, too. My tack was to avoid using a map and instead rely on my GPS in hopping from small town to small town. When I got to the first town, I'd set a course for the next. My town hopping, I planned, would take me through scenic country and over the Great Smoky Mountains in my first day of travel.

From Atlanta, I drove to East Ellijay, Ga., where I stopped at the sight of birds, of all things. I saw cedar waxwings and robins feeding on berries in otherwise bare trees. I hadn't seen those avian species since moving to Florida.

I hadn't encountered a cedar waxwing since leaving Maine, so it was pleasant to see their feathery mohawks in East Ellijay, Ga.

The cedar waxwings were not cooperative subjects. I couldn't tell if they were flying around so much to stay warm - likely angry that they had flown south only to be greeted with frigid air - or to gather more berries than their counterparts.

Robins, this one with puffy plumage, are a sign of spring in New England. They are some of the first birds to arrive from the south when the weather warms in places like Maine.

When I arrived in the small town of Murphy, N.C., just north of the Georgia line, I had traveled nearly 700 miles since setting out from Melbourne early that Saturday morning. And it was there where I realized the flaw in my traveling strategy.

I had picked a random address in Murphy for my GPS to lead me to. I had planned to stop when I reached the town, then reset my GPS for the next city. Unfortunately, I didn't notice when I arrived. I followed a sign onto a road that I thought would lead me to Murphy. But actually, without knowing it, I had already traveled right through the heart of Murphy. (It was so small, I didn't even notice.) Instead of stopping, I continued to blindly follow my GPS.

I should have known there was trouble when I saw the route I was following was called Beaver Dam Road. That's not a name you'd see in downtown Manhattan, Miami or even downtown Murphy for that matter. It wound over low mountains, around cliff faces, next to rural farms with horses grazing in fields sprinkled with snow. The road surface was barely maintained. Salt had melted some of the snow that had fallen earlier, but what was left was a dirty slush. And none of the scenes were particularly photogenic. There wasn't enough snow to make the bare trees pretty. Once, I saw a beautiful hawk perched in an evergreen, backdropped by a distant farm in the valley below. But me exiting the car spooked the bird, and it flew off.

My patience was wearing thin. I wasn't lost, but I wasn't where I wanted to be.

None of the scenes were particularly photogenic. There just wasn't enough snow.

Many of the homes along Beaver Dam Road near Murphy, N.C., had been abandoned for the winter. If I got stranded, I figured I could break into one, start a fire and roast some of the Ritz crackers I had brought along for the ride.

The only salt my car is accustomed to in Florida is in the air that pushes off the ocean. After this trip, a good wash would be in order.

At this point on Beaver Dam Road, I stopped.

But I had gone far already, so I figured I'd push forward to see where the road led. At least traffic wasn't a problem. I met no one on Beaver Dam Road. In fact, most of the cabins had been abandoned for the winter. And of the homes that were occupied, none of their occupants were going far: I could tell the snow was alien to them. My drive took me through the part of Nantahala National Forest that most tourists never see.

After all that, though, my luck ran out. I came to a one-lane bridge, on the other side of which was a sign that said "end state maintenance." The road beyond it was dirt, unplowed and undoubtedly littered with downed limbs. I cursed my GPS and headed back to the town I never saw.

After realizing my error and correcting it, I set course for downtown Bryson City, N.C. - rather than some random address off in the boonies. That took me over the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, which was much smoother and slightly less snowy than Beaver Dam Road. Occasional turnouts along the roadway allowed me to once park and trudge over an embankment to a small stream. Park rangers don't much care for tourists who go off the trail, so I remained discreet. The whole intent was to photograph ice formations on a mountainside. In order to get closer, though, I'd have to cross the stream by way of icy rocks. But that seemed beyond the scope of my daring, so I snapped one shot and fought the bushes on the way back to my car.

I stopped again when I crossed the Little Tennessee River. The surface was icy and turquoise. Under better lighting, it would have gleamed. But none of the photographic gods were with me on this trip. I trudged on.

Water running off cliff faces through the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park froze into masses of ice. In some places, they reached down and kissed the pavement of the expressway.

The lighting is downrange from my lens in this shot of the Little Tennessee River in North Carolina, less than ideal for a good photo.

At a general store, I bought a chocolate milk, which served as my lunch, or my dinner. I lost track. At that point, about 4 p.m., the exhaustion from traveling all day set in. I had consumed countless Red Bulls and a few cups of truck stop coffee. All that caffeine, I'm sure, worsened my condition in the long run.

The terrain started to get serious. The mountains were higher. The trees at their peaks were coated in snow, which glimmered in the sunshine. The roadway itself was in shadow.

When I entered Cherokee, N.C., I was so tired that there really was no sense in even possessing a brain because it was not functioning. Flurries started to fly, but I "made the decision" to traverse the alpine U.S. 441 connecting Cherokee to Gatlinburg, Tenn. I passed the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was impassable, thanks to unseasonable weather. As my faithful car scaled the Smokies, the snow fell thicker. The sun peeked through occasionally as it set, allowing fleeting moments for photography.

These clouds over the Smokies dropped a good deal of snow in a short time, but the sun often shined through.

You can tell from this photo that the road was quite snowy.

Though it doesn't seem the case in this photo, snow is falling during a squall. This was high in the Smokies, where there was a foot of snow already on the ground, with the trees covered from previous storms.

At the apex of 441 is the North Carolina-Tennessee border. When I reached it, at 5,046 feet, there was a sense of accomplishment, despite having not taken one photo all day that made me happy. I was touching a state, Tennessee, that I had never touched before. Just as I began to savor the moment and to think that this trip is all about the journey, not the destination, I was honked and yelled at by a plow-truck driver who told me to pick a state and get off the mountain. I told him I was headed north, into Tennessee. He said the park was closed because of the worsening snowfall and that I had to go. So I went.

Very slowly, but I went. The road curved downward toward Gatlinburg. A manual transmission in these situations is advantageous, as the low gear kept my speed down without a need for the brake. If you know anything about driving in the snow, you know quick braking and accelerating are sure tickets to the snowbank - or, in this case, the bottom of a 200-foot cliff. That was unfamiliar territory: I know snow, but the high mountains in Maine were left to the L.L. Bean boots on my feat, not the Firestone tires on my car.

I took it slow the rest of the way. About two inches of white stuff fell in a short time, and I drove 20 miles in the dark. When I arrived in Gatlinburg, I had my life, and all my extremities were safe from frostbite. I ate pulled pork, fried okra, beans and cornbread at a local joint, then checked into a cheap motel.

With the heater on high, I slept, though somewhat unnervingly at the knowledge that I was the only person in the motel.

Gatlinburg is a kitschy town with attractions, such as this haunted house, that cater to tourists. A co-worker said it's Orlando with a hillbilly flair. Indeed, there's a downtown strip lined with plenty of hillbilly golf - one named after Davy Crockett and another advertising "guns and golf," a natural pair - and go-cart venues, a place to have your picture taken with the real General Lee and a museum of salt-and-pepper shakers. There was even a Harley-Davidson store, but it was so cold - in the teens - that I didn't want to even think about riding a motorcycle. I liked the town, but I didn't feel like taking many photos of it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Snow search in Appalachia | Snow search starts with storm's end in Georgia

Purchase a print. My search for snow drove me north, where I saw the back edge of a storm that, ironically, brought some light wintry precipitation to Florida. These cloud shots were taken on the west side of Macon, Ga., as I took Interstate 95 north toward Atlanta.

Purchase a print | This was the first time that I've seen such a clearly defined back edge to a large-scale storm system that covered all of Florida. I've seen such sights - though rarely with bright blue sky, like in this case - with the front of a much smaller thunderstorm, but never with the end of a large storm.

Purchase a print | This was taken a little earlier than the photos above, and it shows the cloud deck moving to the south as I pointed my camera to the north. For this shot, I ran down a steep embankment on the side of the roadway, nearly killing myself.

Click for larger sizes. This post-sunrise panorama was put together using nine shots similar to the previous one. As the storm moves to the south, this image shows a road over the red Georgia dirt that typifies much of the state. The road was frequented by tractor-trailer trucks that parked behind some commercial buildings in this area near Macon.

Snow was on my mind. It has been for most of the winter. It was a part of my childhood that was so ingrained, so commonplace, that I felt life wasn't right without it.

Last year was my first without seeing a single flake. The year before, my first winter in Florida, I visited Denver for a few days, where I was lucky enough to see a couple of inches while attending a conference. Last year, I did not travel northward during the winter and therefore didn't see the snow fly.

With unseasonably cold conditions in Florida two weeks ago - we had a stretch of days with lows in the upper 20s - I figured there was no sense to being in this supposedly "warm" climate. If it's going to be cold, I expect to see snow. But the odds of that happening weren't good in Florida. So I headed north.

It was a spontaneous decision. Two furlough days extended my weekend to four days, so I had the time to do something. But I never figured out what to do until I left work Friday night. For some reason, I thought a whirlwind tour of Appalachia, where there surely would be snow, was in order.

I went home, packed hurriedly and left at 2 a.m. amid a light, cold rain.

I drove through the night, up Florida's Turnpike toward the Georgia line. And the whole time, I couldn't help but to think I was making the wrong decision. Forecasters were saying there was a slight - a very slight - chance that Central Florida could see that cold rain turn to snow or sleet in the morning. Such a bizarre sight in the Sunshine State would be worth staying home for. But alas, I determined that it just wouldn't happen. Or that's what I told myself.

The cold front moved southward as I sped north. Near Lake City, in North Florida, the temperature dipped below freezing, and my mobile radar - on my iPhone - said there was snow in the air above me. But nothing hit the ground. Again, I figured I was wise to search for snow up north.

In central Georgia, just northwest of Macon, after refilling my car with gas and after the sun rose, the back edge of the storm system came into view. I've seen clearly defined storm fronts move overhead, but this marked the first time that I saw such definition on the backside of a large-scale system.

But it wasn't clouds I was seeking. It was snow. That would finally come just south of Atlanta, with a light film on roofs, car tops and roadsides. Georgia's signature red clay was sprinkled with flakes. Wooden signs, a light covering of snow on their top edges, advertised "authentic Georgia peaches, next exit." But a dusting wouldn't cut it for a Maine expatriate.

This Florida family, riding in a motor home with the words "In Pursuit of Margaritaville" emblazoned on the back, appeared to be on a quest for snow, as they toss it into the air. They stopped in a small turnout area near Ellijay, in northern Georgia, where there was a little more than an inch of snow on the ground.

A thicker blanket of white stuff came with an increase in elevation. From Atlanta, I hit the Piedmont, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia. I drove over the Appalachian Highway through towns like Ellijay, Blue Ridge and Mineral Bluff, all around or near Chattahoochee National Forest. When I finally stopped at a "scenic overlook" with a great view of ugly, bare trees, I ran into a family on the same mission to play in the snow.

But the conditions back home in Florida? Cold and sleety. Some areas even saw a faint accumulation. But it wasn't enough to make me want to turn around. My car kept climbing into the Appalachian Mountains, in search of deeper snow.

The clouds move over the treetops in Macon.

Purchase a print | The system moves over a Krystal fast-food restaurant in Macon. Krystal is the Southern equivalent of White Castle. They are somewhat sparse in Florida but apparently more prevalent in Georgia.

Purchase a print | A flag outside the Baymont Inn, shown earlier, is backdropped by the contrasting sky.

Purchase a print | I drove through the night, so when the sun rose, I finally caught a glimpse of this large system. Mind you, the sun didn't make the air much warmer; it was still in the 20s when I snapped this in southern Georgia. Brr.

A crescent moon emerges from behind the clouds as they move quickly to the south. After this, I continued northward in the comfort of my heated motor vehicle.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who says there's no autumn in Florida? Leaves and other things in a ditch

Florida maple leaves turn a bright red along Parkway Drive in Melbourne.

Many posts on The Offlede are driven by my own longing for home - for the sights, tastes and activities I grew up with in Maine. I flew there in October to take photos of fall foliage. I spent 20 days in December looking for signs of Christmas here in Florida that reminded me of the traditions I'm accustomed to during the holidays. And in the past two weeks, my search for ice and snow started here in Central Florida and ended way up north in mountainous West Virginia. There's more to come on that later.

Sometimes, though, I just lose track of what lies under my nose here in Florida. Yes, the climate is subtropical, but there are elements of the north that still survive here. There are no apple trees or sugar maples, the things I frequently associate the autumn season with. We do have Florida maple trees, though. They don't provide the brilliant color that northerly varietals do, but it's something, and it's something that reminds me of home.

This week, during my daily jogs, I noticed that the trees along my route were changing colors. One was a nearly fluorescent yellow and blanketed a home's lawn with fallen leaves. The Florida maples, situated along a water-filled ditch, turned to a solid red. I took may camera out yesterday to record that fall indeed does show itself in Florida, however subtle - and late - it may be.

Maybe this place isn't so bad after all.

After living here for more than two years, I'm beginning to notice the less dominant aspects of Florida's environment. Once I got beyond the shock of encountering palm trees at every turn, I saw the pine trees and maples, such as this one, that are reminiscent of my childhood in Maine, the "Pine Tree State."

Fallen leaves cover the surface of a ditch.

The leaves weren't the only things in the ditch. This single-car accident happened just as I arrived to take photos of the trees. The lone driver was unhurt.

The young motorist became distracted, hit this soft embankment and flipped into the ditch.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My first sighting of naturally occurring ice in Florida

Most of the frost was contained to the ground, on the grass and assorted weeds.

The various ditches and retention ponds that populate much of Florida had a skim of ice over them, about an eighth of an inch thick. This frozen ditch was near Turtlemound Road in Melbourne.

Just as Florida weather was getting a little boring, Mother Nature threw in something a little different. It has been cold here on the east coast since Saturday, but the temperature never quite hit freezing until this morning, when it got down to 27 degrees, cracking a record low of 31 for the date.

Early this morning, around 2, I saw frost forming on my car, so I set my alarm so I could get up with the sun and take some photos in daylight. After all, this is the first naturally formed ice I've seen since I visited Denver in April 2008; it was a big deal.

Many of the motorists were dumbfounded. I saw one stop in the driveway of my apartment complex when the sun hit his windshield and the glare off the frost blinded his view of the road. He simply cranked up the wiper speed instead of blasting the defrosters. Must have been a native.

Most of the photos people see on a news report about the big Florida freeze will show plants - especially citrus - that have been covered with water to prevent a deeper freeze. That's not natural. All of my photos are of ice created without the aid of man.

This blade of grass or weed - I'm not that familiar with Florida flora - gets a little golden as the sun rises over the trees.

I layered clothing appropriately for the conditions, but it was still chilly for my Florida-thinned blood. My hands as frozen as they were, I didn't bother to change lenses and kept my 105mm macro on the whole time.

I tried to achieve some different compositions of the same patch of clover-shaped vegetation.

Kind of a star-shaped grass varietal here.

Frost formed on top of this ant hill. It's plain to say there were no ants around.

Frost covers my windshield, as the sun pokes through the trees around 7:25 a.m.

Here's more of a close-up of one snowflake-shaped portion of the frost on my windshield, with sunlight filling the frame.

I stepped back to show a wider view of the frost on the ground vegetation.

This shot was actually a mistake, but it works in that it's a cooler view of the frost. It was actually taken when a car passed on Wickham Road in Melbourne, near my apartment, blocking the low-lying sun's light.

I'm posting this shot merely for the purpose of illustrating how the frost quickly melted. To the left is the frost deep in a ditch, which was just graced by sunlight when I snapped this. To the right is the grass on the elevated embankment, which had been exposed to the sun for longer and thus, the lack of frost.

I broke a piece of ice off the frozen ditch and took a shot. I'm saving this rare piece of Florida ice, complete with algae, in my kitchen freezer.

Wait, wait: In addition to winter arriving in Florida on Wednesday morning, fall did, too. I spotted a little red foliage in a sea of green trees along Turtlemound Road in Melbourne.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Photos of the year 2009 (many of which are for sale)

Purchase a print | Barack Obama delivers his inauguration address after being sworn in as president on Jan. 20. Full post

Purchase a print | A crowd is gathered on the National Mall on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Full post

Purchase a print | Seen from Palm Shores, shuttle Discovery lifts off after sunset on March 15. Full post

Purchase a print | A tree casts its shadow onto an outside wall at my apartment complex on April 29. Full post

Purchase a print | Venus and the moon rendezvous for a close conjunction on April 22. Full post

Purchase a print | Traffic moves across Pineda Causeway in Brevard County as Venus and the moon rendezvous for a close conjunction on April 22. Full post

A boy, impersonating a soldier, laughs next to his father at a "tea party" protest against government spending at Wickham Park in Melbourne on April 19. Full post

Purchase a print | An Atlas V rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral with a military communications satellite on April 4, as viewed from Melbourne. Full post

Purchase a print | An osprey chows down on a fish at Viera's Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands on April 30. Full post

Purchase a print | A palamedes swallowtail spreads its wings on top of a fern deep in Melbourne's Wickham Park on May 2. Full post

Seen through palm fronds, a cardinal carries a bug as it hops along on a house fence on May 4. Full post

Purchase a print | The sun breaks through a cloud over Space View Park in Titusville just before the liftoff of shuttle Atlantis on May 11. Full post

Purchase a print | A strong thunderstorm moves over the Indian River in Palm Shores and brings needed rain on May 18. Full post

Intense lightning strike in Cocoa Beach
Purchase a print | Lightning strikes in the Atlantic off south Cocoa Beach on May 19. Full post

Purchase a print | A killdeer scurries away from oncoming traffic at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on June 1. Full post

Sunset in Titusville (horizontal)
Purchase a print | The sun sets over the Indian River in Titusville on June 1. Full post

Purchase a print | Shuttle Atlantis rides on a 747 as the cargo transport flies along Patrick Air Force Base beach on June 2. Full post

Purchase a print | The underside of a shelf cloud over Sebastian appears wind-torn on May 26. Full post

Purchase a print | A thunderstorm moves over U.S. 1 near FLORIDA TODAY headquarters on June 5. Full post

Purchase a print | A spiraling tail cloud is lit at sunset on June 5. Full post

Purchase a print | Ducks stand by the water at Wells Park in Melbourne on June 11. Full post

Purchase a print | A rainbow arcs over the green Atlantic off Indialantic on June 11. Full post

A thunderstorm, which had brought funnel clouds earlier to Central Florida, moves off Patrick Air Force Base on June 13. Full post

Purchase a print | An egret grabs a fish in the Indian River in Titusville on June 15. Full post

Purchase a print | Clouds light up with color at sunset over launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on June 17. Full post

Purchase a print | A trio of lights - the moon, the shuttle's launch pad and Jupiter - highlight a rib of clouds over launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on June 17. Full post

Purchase a print | A thunderstorm moves over a house on Harlock Road in Melbourne on June 18. Full post

Lightning strikes offshore near the Cocoa Beach Pier on June 22. Full post

Purchase a print | The skies get stormy over a deserted part of Palm Bay on June 23. Full post

Purchase a print | A Delta IV rocket lifts off through layers of blue, as seen from Palm Shores on June 27. Full post

Purchase a print | A gust front moves over Lake Washington in Melbourne on June 29. Full post

Purchase a print | The sky over Melbourne produces a rare display of mammatus clouds at sunset on July 3. Full post

A storm moves over Patrick Air Force Base Beach on July 4. Click for full panorama. Full post

Purchase a print | Fireworks explode during a show off Cocoa Beach's Shepard Park on July 4. Full post

Purchase a print | A small alligator lurks in Crane Creek off Promenade Park in Melbourne on July 6. Full post

Purchase a print | The sun rises over a flooded church parking lot near Wickham Park in Melbourne on July 9. Full post

ISS zoomed
A few details of the International Space Station can be seen during a flyover on July 9. Full post

A nearly full moon is seen on July 9, as the Apollo 11 anniversary nears. Full post

Purchase a print | A shelf cloud moves over Cape Canaveral beach, scrubbing a shuttle launch attempt on July 13. Full post

Purchase a print | Lightning strikes near the parking lot of FLORIDA TODAY on July 24. Full post

Purchase a print | Toy cows with parachutes are dropped from a helicopter during a promotion for a new Chick-fil-A location in Viera. Full post

Seen from Space View Park in Titusville, shuttle Endeavour lands on July 31. Full post

delta II_0013_widemoon
Purchase a print | A Delta II rocket streaks into the pre-sunrise sky at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral on Aug. 17. Full post

Purchase a print | Contrails from a Delta II rocket are lit in a pre-sunrise sky at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral on Aug. 17. Full post

Purchase a print | Contrails from a Delta II rocket are lit in a pre-sunrise sky at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral on Aug. 17. Full post

Purchase a print | A shelf cloud moves over Pineda Causeway on Aug. 20. Full post

A surfer crashes into a wave as Hurricane Bill sends swells toward Cocoa Beach on Aug. 22. Full post

Purchase a print | A wave from Hurricane Bill nears me as I swim off Patrick Air Force Base on Aug. 22. Full post

Purchase a print | Lightning flashes inside storm clouds over the Indian River in northern Melbourne on Aug. 23. Full post

Purchase a print | Lightning, seen from Titusville, scrubs a shuttle launch attempt on Aug. 25. Full post

Purchase a print | Shuttle Discovery streaks into space in this time-lapse image with a police cruiser's lights in the foreground on Aug. 28 and 29. Full post

Purchase a print | Lightning crawls near Trinity Towers in downtown Melbourne on Aug. 31. Full post

Purchase a print | The Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay is seen under a haloed full moon on Sept. 4. Full post

Purchase a print | Lightning strikes along Interstate 75 in South Florida on Sept. 4. Full post

Purchase a print | A storm hangs low over Interstate 75 in South Florida on Sept. 4. Full post

Purchase a print | Key West and Disney's Magic are seen from the top of an old lighthouse on Sept. 6. Full post

Purchase a print | A prairie warbler browses for bugs in a pine tree on Smathers Beach in Key West on Sept. 6. Full post

Purchase a print | Fish swim under the pier at Smathers Beach in Key West on Sept. 6. Full post

Purchase a print | The International Space Station passes by a thunderstorm over the Gulf of Mexico and into the lights of Marathon on the other side of Seven-Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys on Sept. 6. Full post

Purchase a print | A fisherman watches the sun set over Lake Washington in Melbourne on Sept. 9. Full post

Purchase a print | A great blue heron is caught snoozing at my workplace on Sept. 14. Full post

Purchase a print | A rainbow arcs over Pineda Causeway on Sept. 23. Full post

A Delta II rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral, as seen from Jetty Park, on Sept. 25. Full post

The solid rocket boosters separate from a Delta II on Sept. 25. Full post

Anticrepuscular rays appear in the sky opposite the setting sun in Rockledge on Sept. 25. Full post

Purchase a print | The International Space Station makes a pass of the moon over Pineda Causeway on Sept. 28. Full post

Purchase a print | Pilot Jason Newburg's Oakley-sponsored Viper biplane is seen through beach grass during the Cocoa Beach Air Show on Oct. 4. Full post

Purchase a print | A rainbow appears over the Penobscot River in Lincoln, Maine, on Oct. 5. Full post

Purchase a print | Storm clouds move over Stump Pond in Lincoln, Maine, on Oct. 5. Full post

Purchase a print | Clouds float over the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge on Oct. 6. Full post

Purchase a print | Fall turns blueberry fields red in Meddybemps, Maine, on Oct. 8. Full post

Purchase a print | A photographer shoots a moose in Stump Pond at Maine's Baxter State Park on Oct. 9. Full post

Photographers wait for moose to appear in Sandy Stream Pond at the foot of Mount Katahdin in Maine's Baxter State Park on Oct. 9. Full post

An amateur photographer from New York City takes exposures of the low-level cloud cover over Maine's Mount Katahdin on Oct. 9. Full post

Dark clouds move over a house along a backwoods road off Route 6 in Washington County, Maine, on Oct. 10. Full post

Purchase a print | A lone red maple leaf sticks out in a sea of gold in Princeton, Maine, on Oct. 11. Full post

Purchase a print | Stars of the Milky Way shine brightly above the treetops in Princeton, Maine, on Oct. 11. Full post

Purchase a print | Pileus - the horizontal, wispy clouds that often form over cumulonimbus clouds during strong updrafts - also appear over plumes from forest fires, such as this controlled burn at Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 21. Full post

A child reacts after hearing that the Ares I-X test launch was scrubbed because of cloud cover on Oct. 27. Full post

A shock wave forms around the Ares I-X rocket in a test flight for NASA's next generation of spacecraft on Oct. 28. Full post

Purchase a print | Shuttle Atlantis lifts off from Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A, as seen from the NASA press site on Nov. 17. Full post

Purchase a print | An Atlas V rocket carrying several communications satellites blasts off from Cape Canaveral on Nov. 23. Full post

My new Harley-Davidson Sportster is seen in the setting sun and wildfire smoke on Nov. 30. Full post

Purchase a print | The launch of a Delta IV rocket lights up the Indian River in Palm Shores on Dec. 5. Full post

Purchase a print | A roll cloud moves swiftly over Cocoa Beach on Dec. 14. Full post

A meteor appears during the Geminids shower on Dec. 14. Full post

Purchase a print | A floodlight is filtered through a tree and shines on fog in Melbourne on Dec. 16. Full post

Purchase a print | Comet pops his head through the railings in a live reindeer exhibit in Viera on Dec. 19. Full post

Purchase a print | An egret sticks its head under the water in search of fish while flying along at full speed at the wetlands in Viera on Dec. 29. Full post