Memorial Church and the Planets Saturn and Jupiter

Planetary Alignment

The Moon (99% waxing gibbous), accompanied by Saturn and Jupiter, rises above Memorial Church at Stanford University. In terms of lining up the moon with a building, visit Photo Ephemeris, which is pretty accurate. In retrospect, I should have consulted it beforehand. Instead, I used the augmented reality feature in PhotoPills, which was not as precise.

Comet NEOWISE Rising at Dawn


Comet NEOWISE rising above the San Francisco bay. I love the soft pastels of the morning light, as well as the clear delineation between the night sky and the coming morning sun.

Sunrise over Gilead Sciences Campus


These buildings are located just to the right of the San Mateo-Hayward bridge. In the minutes before sunrise, the illumination from the building lights pair well with the emerging sunrise and the reflection in the waters of the San Francisco Bay.

I had to look up these buildings on Google Maps and they appear to be part of the Gilead Sciences campus in Foster City, California.

San Mateo-Hayward Bridge


The last time I was at the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, I was on the other side with the sunrise behind me. This time, I tried a new location and took a three-photo panorama.

With each passing week, the sun is starting to rise earlier and earlier. This shortens the shutter speed and the water ends up choppier. Will try again with an ND filter if the weather cooperates.

C-130 Hercules Soars Over Moffett Field


During lunch, I saw a Lockheed C-130 Hercules circling around Moffett Field. I think the plane was performing a touch and go because I would see it descend and take-off shortly after. Because the landing was obscured by the surrounding buildings, I was not 100% certain.

During one of its revolutions, another plane took off from Moffett Field. I was tracking the C-130 through the viewfinder and the appearance of another plane startled me.

I saw the C-130 Hercules take off from Moffett Field a few times. This photo has a mix of the old and new. Google is building its Bay View campus in the foreground while Moffett Federal Airfield Hangar 2 and 3 are in the background. At the top of the mountain, you can even see Lick Observatory.

Two Moons


Two moons taken about a week apart. The top is a 82% illuminated waxing gibbous moon. ISO 1600 at 1/1,250s. The bottom is a 12% illuminated waxing crescent moon. ISO 1600 at 1/1,000s.

The crescent moon is actually quite dim so I had to adjust the exposure in post-processing more. The waxing gibbous moon was approaching a full moon in a few days. This is better than a full moon because where the light drops off, the craters are more visible.

San Mateo-Hayward Bridge


On a quiet morning, I stopped by the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge just before sunrise. I could see some cars beginning their daily commute across the bridge while the sky was faintly illuminated in pink and purple hues. The water was glassy and still, except for a few early rising ducks who were already gliding across the San Francisco Bay.

Rim of the World

Rim of the World Vista Point in Stanislaus National Forest

The Rim of the World Vista Point is located along Highway 120 in the Stanislaus National Forest. On a cold, winter morning, I stopped by on the way to Yosemite National Park. Barren tree trunks still scarred the land six years after the devastating 2013 Rim Fire, which consumed over 250,00 acres of land. The morning fog clinging to the ground gave this vista point an apocalyptic ambience.

Leo J. Ryan Memorial Park

Leo J. Ryan Memorial Park in Foster City

During an early morning trip to the Leo J. Ryan Memorial Park, I was rewarded with a brilliant sunrise. The still lake in the quiet hours of the morning created a perfect reflection of the houses and morning skies.

Leo J. Ryan Memorial Park was dedicated in 1979 to honor U.S. Representative Leo J. Ryan, who served as a U.S. Representative for the 11th Congressional District of California from 1973 to 1978, when he was murdered in Guyana by members of the Peoples Temple. At the time, the 11th Congressional District covered parts of San Mateo County.

Mount Umunhum New Year 2020

Morning Colors

Happy New Year. I revisited Mount Umunhum this morning in anticipation of the first sunrise for the new year. I committed a total rookie mistake by showing up at exactly sunrise, so I missed an opportunity to capture the skies as it glowed in pink and purple hues.

The first clicks were some experiments in color tones. In the direction of the sun, the skies radiated a warm, orange hue while the foreground hills shared a monochromatic dark blue palette.

San Jose

The cluster of tall buildings made Downtown San Jose an easy landmark to locate. Mission Peak and its large antennas are the first range of mountains in the background. Further back is Mount Diablo.

Lick Observatory at Mount Hamilton

Another easy landmark to locate is Mount Hamilton with the domed Lick Observatory close to the summit. While the winter rains have turned parts of the foothills green again, we haven’t seen the storms and cold front from last year that dusted Lick Observatory with a layer of snow.

This is the southern end of Silicon Valley. There are no dense residential developments or office parks in this part of town. Instead, this reminded me of the photos that I’ve seen of Val d’Orcia in Tuscany, where picturesque residences dot the hills in an idyllic sun-drenched rural paradise. La Bella Vita.