Oh My Stars | Winner Chosen

Melanie and I are happy to announce the recipient of the Oh My Stars donation quilt. The story and monetary offer combined to make a compelling case that it should go to this person. She will be known as Grace in order to maintain her privacy. Here are details of the donation quilt offer in case you missed the earlier post.

Grace has been a volunteer with her local hospice center after they cared for her mother and father. She has assisted patients and their families as they transitioned through the hospice process. Grace knows first-hand the wonderful help they give to others in their hours of great need. She has chosen to donate her offering to Iowa City Hospice.

Melanie and I visited the office of Iowa City Hospice. We brought the quilt and Grace’s donation. We explained the circumstances of the quilt project that led to her donation. They were moved by Grace’s story and grateful for her donation.

Now Grace needs that same hospice care. She has been diagnosed with cancer which has metastasized. Previous surgery complications and resultant problems left her with difficult choices of what to do next during her remaining months. She has decided to forego more surgery and instead receive care from the nurses, doctors, and social workers of her local hospice.

Grace has been gathering together personal notes and gifts for various family members and friends. These will be given to family and friends upon her death. Grace and her sister are very close. She has been a welcome source of comfort and strength. Their bond is deep and complex. Grace wants something special to give to her sister. This quilt seems to be ideal as her remembrance.


Her sister is a seamstress and appreciates the work that is needed for hand made items like quilts. Her sister’s favorite color is orange, a color that stands out in this quilt. Plus, Grace and her sister have had long meaningful talks outside under the stars about many deeply personal things. The stars in the quilt are a reminder of those talks and what they have shared.

Grace’s son will act as executor of her Will. He will follow her instructions explaining the source of this quilt and how it came to be given to her sister. It will serve as a lasting memory of their love for each other.

Peace to you, Grace. Thank you for your moving and inspiring story.

Oh My Stars | Quilt Donation

Two years ago, Melanie made the quilt below for a blog project that I especially liked called Oh My Stars. I want to offer it for someone to purchase. The quilt dimensions are 59″x60″ (1.50m x 1.52m). A deserving charitable organization in our community will receive the money. I’ve never done this kind of thing before. We learn by doing.


My Stars | Melanie McNeil | Catbird Quilt Studio | 2013


My Stars | Melanie McNeil | Catbird Quilt Studio | 2013


The basic plan is for interested persons to (1) explain why they want the quilt, (2) make a monetary offer, and (3) choose one of the six organizations below as the recipient of their offer.

Offers are to be made in private using my email address provided below. Only offers submitted using that email will be considered.

Only offers from the U.S. will be considered due to shipping cost constraints.

The winner will be asked to write a check to the charitable organization they choose, not to me. Those details will be worked out after the selection of the winning offer.

Submission deadline is midnight 1 February 2016. I will review the offers and decide who wins. My choice will depend on the explanation by the person as well as the amount of their offer. No doubt, this could turn into a difficult decision. I hope that is actually the case.

Submit offer, explanation, and choice to:  Offer has expired. A winner was chosen.


Local Charitable Organizations

North Liberty Food Pantry

Domestic Violence Intervention Program

Free Lunch Program of Iowa City

Table to Table

Iowa City Hospice

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois

Iridium Flares

This morning I captured an Iridium Flare on video. What, you might ask, is that?

There is a constellation of 66 spacecraft orbiting Earth which make up a world-wide satellite phone system. The system provides coverage all over the Earth. The spacecraft look like this. Besides having two solar panels, barely visible in this image, there are three highly reflective rectangular antennae. These antennae communicate with phones on the ground and with other Iridium satellites.

Source: Wikipedia Commons


The antennae are also excellent mirrors which reflect sunlight in orbit. Those reflections sometimes pass over the surface of the Earth as a bright patch of light about 10 km (6.1 mi) wide. If you know when and where to look, the reflections can be seen easily at night and sometimes in broad daylight. They last only a few seconds. They can be many times brighter than Venus or Jupiter. This morning one of the brightest possible reflections, or flares, passed directly over me. I wanted to try recording it on video.

Show me more…

Venus and Jupiter | Photo Project

During June 16-30, people around the world watched the planets Venus and Jupiter near each other in the evening sky. Their performance culminated on the 30th when they were a mere 1/3˚ apart. Details here.

Multiple day events like this are challenging to watch. Weather in some parts of the world is unreliable. Here in the middle of the U.S. we have a wide variety of sky viewing conditions. Even so, I attempted to document this two week event with a picture each evening at about 9:30 pm. I put the images in sequence to show the movements of each planet.

I found a good location half a block down the street from our house. The camera was on a tripod and set to manual. It has a 6x optical zoom. Each photo was at a 3x zoom setting. ISO was 200. Aperture was f/5.6. Focus distance was infinity. Shutter speed was between 0.5 and 2 sec depending on brightness of the sky. Self-timer was always used to avoid shaking the camera.

I want to see your results.

Venus and Jupiter | In Broad Daylight

Friday June 19 was a special day for me. I’ve been watching Venus and Jupiter in the evenings as they have come closer to each other. They will be at an amazing 1/3˚ apart on June 30. Details of that coming event are in this previous post.

After Sunset at 9:30 pm

Weather and clouds play a big role in getting good views. The past week has been mediocre. I have viewed the pairing on three of the recent five evenings. I am trying to get a series of photographs that I can combine into a sequence to document the days leading up to the close pairing on the 30th. The view Friday evening was perfect. Plus, the new moon was nearby. Bonus points for me.


Jupiter upper left | Venus center | Moon bottom

Show me more…