From The Backyard (Of A Different Church): Follow-Up Musings On UFOs, Geo-Trashing, Mars, and Life.

This past Friday night, I needed to get out under the stars. As the blessing of effective vaccines is allowing things to open up more where I live, it also creates an increased workload. I’m not complaining, in fact I welcome the busier schedule. At the same time, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I feel a little life-rust that needs to be shaken off before I can get back to full steam. At the same time, as I’ve reflected on in the past, I am also trying to avoid going back to life as normal in the bad sense of reassuming a workaholic mentality to the detriment of what I need spiritually and emotionally to live a happy, healthy, and holy life.

As you well know, one of my loves outside of priesthood is star photography. Since my Saturday morning was open, I grabbed my camera on Friday night and went for a drive. There were two locations of interest for my evening. To the left, you can see my “highly technical” directional arrows that “pin-point” my final destinations (yes, tongue is firmly in cheek). This image is from the DarkSiteFinder map website. When you’re done reading, check out how dark the sky is where you live!

The colors you see on the map represent the Bortle classifications of where I live. . For more information on the Bortle scale, check out Sky&Telescope’s explanation of how this tool of classification works. To simplify, when you look at a dark sky map, the closer to blue you get the darker the sky. The closer to yellow and red, the more light pollution you have to deal with. Looking at the map, you would be correct if you thought that “option 1” on my map provides the darker skies. However, that wasn’t my destination Friday. I’ve driven to option 1 before and, though the skies are beautifully dark, it is also a heavily wooded area, creating issues for having good site lines. Therefore, I drove to “Option 2,” about 20-30 minutes south of where I live.

While scouting out locations, I came upon this small, rural Church. I don’t know if it’s still being used or not, but I figured, as a priest, it would be a safe place to set up for some night photography. I also liked this location because it reminded me of the small rural Church I attended in my childhood – Good memories.

The Milky Way was presenting nicely behind the Church so I set up my tripod and began to capture images.

After starting a programed sequence of 20 images, I leaned against my car and started to think and pray. After my typical sequence of prayers for family, friends, coworkers, graces, and conflicts, I started to muse internally about some of the things I’ve written about recently.

UFO’s, UAP’s, Flying Tic Tacs, and Pentagon Reports: As initial information is beginning to leak about the forthcoming Pentagon report on Unidentified Areal Phenomena (UAPs), there’s little that’s surprising me. Its sounding more and more like the phenomena that military personnel have seen and reported is more this worldly than other worldly, but might point to undisclosed countries developing new technologies. Of course, all of these reports are coming with a big asterisk that can be summarized as “we’re not sure what’s going on.” (Chris Graney has also reflected on this topic – Click on this link to read his piece.)

What is disturbing to me is the rush to presumption that so many are making that can be summarized as “friend, foe, or folly?” It very well might be that at the end of this rabbit hole resides an explanation that falls nicely into one of these categories. All I know is that, for now, I’m satisfied by simply waiting to see more about what is actually going on. After that, then I’ll pontificate.

Geo-Trashing: As you recall from my last piece on using Google Maps to go trash hunting, I’m still pleasantly surprised how little trash, either in person or online, I’m finding in the city of Eau Claire. So little, in fact, that I haven’t been able to think of a good follow-up angle to my previous piece. At the same time, this has been a rather fun exploration and I want to thank Chris Graney for encouraging me to do this. I will be updating you on my “Geo-Trashing” in a week or two.

Mars Perseverance and Ingenuity: As much as I have enjoyed following NASA’s Perseverance mission and the historic flight of the little helicopter named Ingenuity, it has also been an “oops” moment on a personal level. When I saw the image stream from Perseverance’s landing, I noticed they were taking a lot of full spectrum images of the Martian surface. Since I own a full spectrum camera, I began to plan a bunch of pieces to write on how you can use full spectrum imaging to do research and then apply that knowledge to NASA’s most recent Mars images. There’s just one problem – Of the hundreds of beautiful RAW images NASA has posted, none of them have been full spectrum images since landing. In short… oops. Therefore, I’ve had to rethink how I want to reflect on the Mars missions. The nice thing is that I have a lot of neat material for future posts on light, color processing by our brain, and how full spectrum images can tell us a lot that our eyes can’t… Now I just have to figure out a new post series to provide this information.

And of course, I’m still ruminating on the subject of contemplation of creation. Sunday, after Masses were done, I transitioned from the immensity of the Milky Way to the smallness of Dragon Flies. I’d say a pretty fruitful weekend of contemplating creation. Now that the school year has come to an end, I’m hoping to have a little more time to work on these side projects and share the contents with you. They feed me spiritually as I hope and pray they also feed you.

Question: Of the things I mentioned above, what is of most interest to you? Leave a comment below and, together, let us explore the beauty of creation as sojourners of truth, sojourners of faith, and sojourners into the heart of God.