15 December 2011

Skywatch Friday: Lunar Eclipse, X Ski, Hike

It was a busy week in Butte America (southwest Montana), what with final exam week at my little college, a lunar eclipse, holiday parties, and a bit of skiing & hiking.

Lunar Eclipse
Last Friday evening a full moon rose over Rampart Mountain east of town:

I awoke early Saturday morning and climbed nearby Big Butte to meet some friends. While waiting, I caught this fuzzy picture (oh, the limitations of my Canon Elph point & shoot camera) of "Butte by night" showing several mining headframes (aka "gallows frames") lit up in red and a thick fog from the Berkeley Pit:

From about 6 to 7:30 a.m., the moon was gradually eclipsed by earth's shadow:

Here's a better photo by Karanel Dimmit (published on our local TV website):

After waking up early and standing around two hours in the cold, predawn darkness to watch the eclipse, a nap never felt so good!

Cross-country Skiing

The snow at The Moulton just north of my home in Walkerville is a little thin, so I made the long drive (30 miles!) over to the Mill Creek Pass (aka "Mt Haggin") trails. It's a scenic area, with great views of the ridges of the Pintler Wilderness Area:

Historic old cabins from when the Anaconda Copper Mining Company clearcut the area a century or so ago (shown with MollyTheDog):

And wildlife. Surprisingly, the elk are still hanging around, having not yet migrated to their winter range on Mount Fleecer. There are also year 'round residents like this pine marten, shown by its tracks crossing a ski trail:

They are the characteristic 2 front + 2 rear sideways loping tracks. In deeper snow, each pair (front & rear) of feet make a single track:

It's always nice to time a ski for a perfect sunset just as you reach the parking lot:

The hills along the Jefferson River on the other side ("East Slope") of the Continental Divide just east of Butte are very dry and receive very little snow, so even in winter it's a good place to hike. Dave & I (with MollyTheDog and his dog Jack) found this new windmill installed by some rancher to pump water for cattle when they're on this summer range:

It's dry, open grassland/prairie country:

With some nice "badland" type erosion features:

Here's an interesting man-made feature, probably the pit or crater (lower right) was made by hydraulic mining (using water to blast away a hillside and wash out the placer gold):

Glad the semester is over--well, it will be once my grades are turned in next week. Then I can start packing for my spring semester teaching in China...


Sylvia K said...

Terrific moon shots! Great captures of Montana! Hope you have a great weekend! Happy SWF!


Judy said...

Interesting lunar eclipse, but my favourite of this lot of captures is the one after that - the crisp mountain air and the snow!
If you are going to be teaching in China for a term, I guess we will not be able to see the winter in the mountains this year...

Frostbite and Sunburn said...

I'm exhausted just looking at your photos - wonderful series. Now hurry up and get those grades submitted - you must have a busy Xmas break planned! Have fun.

Spare Parts and Pics said...

You really live in a beautiful area. Great photos (again!).

Emille said...

Love your first pic and the pic with the woodpile in the snow. Good luck teaching in China -my son did it for 5 yers, loved it!

Arija said...

Well now that term is over and year as well, you are enjoying yourself. Nice to have another Phd. student complete successfully.

Here is the Black Swan Info:

The Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) is a large waterbird, a species of swan, which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. The species was hunted to extinction in New Zealand, but later reintroduced. Within Australia they are nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions. Black Swans are large birds with mostly black plumage and red bills. They are monogamous breeders that share incubation duties and cygnet rearing between the sexes.

Have a great Christmas!

eileeninmd said...

Great captures of the moon. I loved your scenic photos, very pretty. Happy skywatching!

WildBlack said...

Amazing! Beautifully captured :)

BLD in MT said...

That eclipse was really something wasn't it!? Thanks for sharing your adventures, and photos, as always.

Veronica Wald said...

A most enjoyable post - and I hope you'll be able to continue blogging while teaching in China!!

Anonymous said...

These are the first shots of the eclipse that I have seen, and they are nice ones. Thanks!

R.Ramakrishnan said...

Great captures of the eclipse, hike & skiing. How did the place get the name Anaconda Mining Company? Are there Anacondas in this region?
Warm Regards. Merry Christmas

secret agent woman said...

I love the sunlight glowing off the broken-down cabin.