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Photo: Supermoon instant replay

SKY WATCHING — In case you missed it, Spokane photographer Craig Goodwin snapped this photo of  Saturday's supermoon.

Super moons appear larger because their orbit is closer to the earth.

Supermoons can appear as much as 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than regular full moons, notes NASA.

We get two more chances to see supermoons in 2014:

  • Aug. 10 — the largest of the three.
  • Sept. 9.

A supermoon, also known as a "perigee moon," occurs when a moon turns full around the same time it reaches "perigee," the closest point to Earth along its elliptical orbit.

On Saturday, the moon was 222,611 miles away from Earth — that's 30,000 miles closer than at its farthest distance in 2014. The moon will be at its closest this year on Aug. 10, when it will be 221,748 miles from Earth.

You’re not seeing things; tonight’s moon will be “super”

SKY WATCHING — The full moon tonight will appear to be unusually big.  It's called a "supermoon."

Hear sounds under night sky at Steamboat Rock

CAMPING — In case you've forgotten what it's like to camp out under the stars, Spokane photographer Craig Goodwin reminds us by devoting a sleepless night using his camera and recording night sounds at Steamboat Rock State Park.

On a recent night-photography outing I made a short audio recording of the amazing sounds the animals were making. I wanted to share the recording to give a sense of why these all-night shoots are so magical, so I added it to some of the pictures I took that night and created a short 1:30 video. Bonus points for anyone who can identify all the calls, cackles, and chirps. The most interesting sound is right near the end. The photos follow the sequence in which I took them. What's interesting to me is you can see how the tonal quality of the light changes from 1:00 a.m. (the first shot) to 4:00 a.m. (the last shot).

It’s Clyde Tombaugh’s birthday

He died before his discovery got downgraded.

I used to work with a guy who phoned him every year and then wrote a story about the "Kansas farm boy who never stopped looking up."


Stargazing at Steptoe Butte on parks cultural calendar

STATE PARKS — A Sept. 7 night of star gazing with expert astronomers south of Spokane at Steptoe Butte State Park catches my eye in this list of upcoming free cultural events scheduled during the year-long Washington State Parks Centennial Celebration.

Here's the remaining schedule of events:

  • Gig Harbor area State Parks: Get your Feet Wet programs, now through Aug. 20, at Kopachuck, Penrose Point and Joemma Beach. Harbor Wildwatch leads beach exploration and marine touch and explore activities, including “stump the biologist.” Programs run mornings starting around 9 a.m. for kids out of school on summer vacation.
  • Birch Bay State Park near Bellingham: Concerts in the Park, evenings Aug. 24 and 30, the Wildlife Theater. Celtic Roots performs at 7 p.m. Aug. 24, and “Wingin’ It” performs at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30.
  • State parks around Washington: Painting in the Parks, now into September. Plein Air Washington Artists, an outdoor artist group, is sending small groups of artists out to paint the day away in various park settings, and spectators are invited to stop by and chat. Find them in Palouse Falls-area state parks Aug. 22 to 25; Sept. 6 and 7 at Rasar State Park near Concrete on Highway 20; Sept. 20 and 21 at Olmstead Place historic homestead near Cle Elum. A juried show of their park paintings is scheduled for Oct. 19 to Dec. 31, at American Art Company, Tacoma.
  • Cama Beach State Park near Stanwood: Beach Art Festival, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 24. Create drawings or sculptures using found objects, and build on the beach. A fun family activity sponsored by the Cama Beach Foundation. For more information visit camabeachfoundation.org.
  • Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, Grand Coulee: On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods, 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 24. Head to the Dry Falls Visitor Center for views of the dramatic landscape created by Ice Age floods, and meet geologist author Bruce Bjornstad, signing his “Ice Age Floods” trail series.
  • Saltwater State Park near Federal Way: Show Brazil, 3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 24: Show Brazil celebrates the culture of Brazil, with music and dance forms including bossa nova, samba, Brazilian popular music and capoeira, a Brazilian martial art form performed to music. A Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks event sponsored in part by the Washington State Parks Foundation, the Washington State Arts Commission and Washington Heritage Resources.
  • Peace Arch State Park, Blaine: Enjoy the final two concerts in a multi-cultural series. Auicha Machis, music of the Andes is scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 25. Pava, a Russian Women’s a capella group performs at 2 p.m. Sept. 1. Folk and Traditional Arts in the Parks series.
  • Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island: Eric Miller Band at 7 p.m. Aug. 31. Visit Battery Bankhead on concert night to hear American folk with subtleties of rock, country and blues. The acoustics are great. This concert has an $8 admission for adopts; children under 13 are admitted for free.
  • Cama Beach State Park near Stanwood: Discover Sail Cam Isle Regatta all day Aug. 31, at Cama Beach boat house. Celebrate the art of small boat sailing with activities for all ages, and participate in sailing races or view different types of small boats.
  • Saltwater State Park in Federal Way: Cambodian Cultural Celebration, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 31. Celebrate Cambodian culture with the South Puget Sound Cambodian community, through performances of traditional music and dance, games. Traditional food available for purchase.
  • Steptoe Butte State Park near Colfax: A night of star gazing, 7:15 p.m. Sept. 7, Steptoe Butte State Park: Join park rangers from Riverside State Park and members of the Spokane Astronomical Society, to view Saturn, Mercury and Venus at Sunset, from atop Steptoe Butte, a popular Palouse view site near Colfax. Guides will provide a tour of the night sky and show visitors how to find the North Star. Call (509) 465-5064 for details.
  • Grand Coulee area: Flood Fest, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 14, Dry Falls Visitor Center, Grand Coulee area: This Centennial event focuses on the Ice Age floods that carved much of Washington’s landscape, with local geology experts, tours of unique geologic features, booths attended by local vendors, authors, Native American tribes and government agencies. Food available for purchase. The event is in partnership with the Ice Age Flood Institute and the Coulee Corridor Consortium.

Photographer captures star show over Priest Lake

SKYWATCHING — The Milky Way and the northern lights were putting on a light show over Priest Lake, Idaho, Friday night for Spokane photographer Craig Goodwin.

This is why some people don't sleep after dark. Says Goodwin:

I was surprised to find so few shots of iconic Priest Lake under the stars so I went up last night to see if I could find a good location. I also wanted to try out star pictures on a lake.

The stars were stunning the sky was more colorful than I expected. I'm not sure what the green and purple are. Perhaps aurora borealis. They ebbed and flowed while I was out, with the pink in the lower left disappearing quickly.

I know it looks like I just cranked the saturation but this is pretty close to what came out of the camera at f2.8, 3200 ISO, and 30 seconds exposure.

See this photo bigger and in higher resolution.

See forecasts for auroa borealis activity.

Yosemite’s Night Skies photography makes brilliant case about light pollution

WILD LANDS — A superb video with stunning images and videos of the night sky helps point out that wild lands such as national parks are rare places where people can get a great view of the stars and planets without being washed out by civilization's lights.

Enjoy this video with all its stars, moon rises, shooting stars, streaking satellites and people offering their insight on what's out there.

Get up early Saturday for “red” lunar eclipse

SKY WATCHING — Andy Buddngton of the Spokane Community College Science Department recommends that we get an early, glowing start tomorrow.
Shortly after 4:30 Saturday morning, we'll be treated to a “red” lunar eclipse.
As the NASA science video explains, this is the last one visible from the Pacific states until 2014.