Saturday, August 13, 2011

Guess It's 'Same Time Next Year'...

(Photo of the Perseus constellation as seen by the Hubbel)

Tonight was a double-header. The Perseid meteor shower, for one. The shower is associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet travels through it's orbit about every 130 years. The radiant (point of origin) for the meteors is said to be in the Perseus constellation, so big guess where their name comes from. Seen for about 2 millenia, the shower is best seen from the northern hemisphere. This year's peak time was supposed to be August 13, 2011, at approximately 11:00 PM/EST.

The other big event for the night was the Aquarian Full Moon.

(Photo of a Perseid Meteor Shower)

I am assuming the meteor shower was spectacular. Something I wouldn't know, as my night sky was completely overcast and rainy. To say I was geared up for some sky watching would be an understatement. Reports said to expect about a hundred meteors per hour. Throughout the better part of the afternoon, I watched the weather radars with dismay as storms moved my way. Better luck next year, I suppose...

The thick blanket up there also obscured the night's Full Moon. Well, not completely...about a quarter past 12:00 midnight I got this:

Better than nothing? Well, that's what I keep telling myself. It did rain. That's something. I'm always up for a good dose of rain, which we did get earlier. I guess it's a bit apropos since Aquarius (the 11th sign of the zodiac) is the water carrier, it's celestial form pouring down the constellation of the Eridanus river.

Since I had been geared up to take (what I hoped would be) some lovely photos of the Full Moon and the meteor shower, I decided to not let the day go to complete waste since the other pics weren't going to happen. There were some really beautiful and bright lightning flashes in the storm clouds covering Savannah. Trying to snap photographs of actual shafts of lightning can be insane making...capturing a good shot is near impossible. Instead of taking pictures, I decided to take some video and do some experimenting.

Lightning 1

Animated GIF's are something I have wanted to try making. I know that free online GIF making sites are out there, but the part I was having difficulty with was trying to isolate the small sections of videos I wanted to make into an animated GIF. I do have a free program that I downloaded for making slide shows into videos for upload to YouTube. I have several of the slide shows I created on my blog. Some in posts, others on my 'Slide shows' page. After some minor noodling on that program, I quickly figured out that it was a 'no-go'. Time to do some 'Google-ing'.

One of the first things I found was a freeware program for editing down AVI videos (which is what my camera produces). I was able to pare down a video section of a few seconds from an AVI video about 8 minutes long. It was easy to figure out without having to consult the 'Help' section, too. You can find the download site for the video trimmer I used here.

For the second step, I found a web site where you can create animated GIF's for free. It's extremely simple to do. For creating animated GIF's from video, that is. (I want to learn the process for making an animated GIF out of a JPG, but that should be a lot more involved.) Just upload the section of video, and the site automatically creates the GIF, and assigns it codes. The GIF creation site can be found here.

Not the evening I was hoping for, but productive nonetheless. Now that I have figured out how, I'm sure there are many GIF's in my future...

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