I had three previous posts alerting readers to the December 21, 2020, Saturn and Jupiter Great Conjunction (LINK, LINK, LINK) . . . and I’m a bit behind in documenting the actual event.

This will be a “longish” post taking us From December 10th to December 21st. There will be another post documenting the days after the 21st’s closest (visual) approach of the two gas giants. But for now, let’s proceed.

This post documents days in which I was able to photograph the planets in reasonably clear skies — six days, starting with December 10th and ending with December 21st.

December 10, 2020, 17:10 — Marion, Illinois
Nikon D7500, Nikon AF VR-Nikkor 80-400mm 1:4.5-5.6D
Photo: 80mm 3 sec. f/7.1 ISO 500

Impressive, no? That’s what happens when you forget to change camera settings . . . but, luckily, I shoot RAW, so I can salvage something from that.

I had two posts alerting readers to the Saturn and Jupiter Great Conjunction of 2020 (LINK and LINK), but I realize many people were not able to see it because of weather (or other reasons).

I figure I would do a couple of posts sharing the photos I took of the event as luck smiled upon me and I was able to shoot a number of nights, including the night of the closest approach (December 21st). The two previous posts shared some of the photos, but these posts will go into a bit more depth.

We begin a month prior to the event. November 18th, to be precise, and to be even more precise, November 18, 2020, at 6:15:58 pm (18:15:58) local time (Central/Chicago time).

November 18, 2020, 18:15:58 — Marion, Illinois
Nikon D7500, Sigma DC EX HSM 17-50mm 1:2.8
Photo: 50mm 1.3 sec. f/5.6 ISO 100

I’m including the shooting data as much for me as for anyone else.  The photo was taken from my driveway and the garage lights are illuminating the neighbor’s trees.

The “V” stories voting round is really struggling to keep up with previous rounds. However, this is understandable given the time of year and all the stuff going on.    

For them who still take the time to read our stories and vote for their favorite, thank you in advance. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge V-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

So, on Christmas day I had the opportunity to get a few close-ups of birds I don’t see at my house.

Look to the left . . .

That is a White-breasted Nuthatch (LINK). It may not be recognizable at first glance because people are probably used to seeing it hanging head-first on the side of trees and feeders. Occasionally, even hanging upsidedown under branches.

The “V” stories voting is still stalled as people recover from their Christmas stuffing . . . and get ready for their New Year’s Eve drunken reverie. 

For them who take the time to read our stories and vote for their favorite, thank you in advance. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge V-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

So, I stopped my car not ten feet from this seagull, turned off the car’s engine, rolled down the window, and waited to capture a sequence of photos showing the gull launching into flight.

Below are the photos I shot as I waited for the gull to take flight. it never did, by the way, and I just got tired of waiting and left.

This is the second day of the Alphabet Challenge “T” Stories voting round. Yes, we still have days. It may seem like the world has gone bonkers, but we still have days . . . and we still have stories for them readers who, you know, like to read.

The voting has been surprisingly brisk for this early in the round, and one can only hope we’ll crack 100 votes. Wouldn’t that be something!  

If you are a reader of our stories and someone who votes, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge T-Stories” are HERE(link) Votes will be accepted until noon, Chicago time, on November 27th.

As usual, let me know if something goes wrong with the voting . . . and now a preview of stuff that may — or may not — be showcased on the blog (soonish).

Vultures feasting on a deer carcass

Ain’t that the metaphor of the moment? . . . two kinds of vultures (Democrats and Republicans) feasting on a deer (the U. S. of  A.) . . . . I tell you, it ain’t looking good no matter who “wins”.

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow, click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the top-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: the symbol above the PLAY arrow will switch to a full-screen slideshow . . . which I advise for the best experience (press Esc to exit). You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow, click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the top-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: the symbol above the PLAY arrow will switch to a full-screen slideshow . . . which I advise for the best experience (press Esc to exit). You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

Colorful leaves on rocks

The Alphabet Challenge “R” Stories voting round is undergoing its usual midway stall in what has become a regular pattern . . . half the votes come at the beginning of the voting period, and the rest as we near the end of the voting period. 

Regardless of when, if you are a reader of our stories and someone who votes, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge R-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link Votes will be accepted until noon on October 20th.

I’m still kind of busy, so this will be yet another short post.

Within, I hope to offer calming photos for people to contemplate.

small tiered waterfallThis serene scene is found along hwy. 24 heading up to Woodland Park from Colorado Springs.

The Alphabet Challenge “R” Stories voting round is nearly at the halfway mark.

If you are a reader of our stories and someone who votes, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge R-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link Votes will be accepted until noon on October 20th.

I’m kind of busy, so this will be an extra-short post.

Driftwood on a beachSince few agreed with my interpretation of the last piece of driftwood I shared, I leave it to anyone who might want to comment to suggest what this piece resembles.

The Alphabet Challenge “R” Stories voting round continues on its two-week journey.

If you are a reader of our stories and someone who votes, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge R-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link Votes will be accepted until noon on October 20th.

I’m still using the Classic Block (in the Block Editor environment) and I’m having no issues with it. Yes, there are a few things different, but if I can adapt to having Trump as President . . . let’s just say this is trivial in comparison.

So, a few photos . . .

A little bit of background as to why I snapped this photo (in addition to, you know, swans).

The Alphabet Challenge “R” Stories voting round is off to a slow start, and that’s understandable . . . to everyone but us writers.

OK, that’s a joke. I shouldn’t have to explain that, but these days it’s best to make things perfectly clear; I’m kidding.

I know our regular readers likely will get around to reading and voting, and we writers want you to know we are thankful for each and every one of you. Oh, yeah . . . also the irregular readers who stop by and contribute to the voting.

If you are a reader of our stories and someone who votes, thank you in advance for casting a vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge R-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link Votes will be accepted until noon on October 20th.

Believe it or not, I’m using the Classic Block editor as opposed to the Classic Editor to compose this post.

Wanna know why? Because in the course of writing the guide to the Classic Block, I got used to it and it’s not functionally different from the Classic Editor (except for how I insert photos).

Speaking of photos . . .

Seagull walking along the beachYes, that’s a seagull out for a stroll on a Michigan beach (that’s Lake Michigan in the background).

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow, click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the top-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: the symbol above the PLAY arrow will switch to a full-screen slideshow . . . which I advise for the best experience (press Esc to exit). You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

Fallen Autumn Leaves
As shot (Camera Flat setting) with a bit of noise reduction and sharpening (Topaz DeNoise AI)

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

Cobweb in the fog

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the top-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading.

So, a few days ago I posted this preview photo:

That’s a rather large (2.5″ – 3.0″) Two-striped Grasshopper. You can read about them HERE<<link and HERE<<link. .