Saturday, 25 February 2012

Heavenly Triangle

As the sun set this evening the crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter shone brightly through the twilight as a heavenly triangle in the western sky.  The celestial trio will continue their show tomorrow night when the moon flips its vertices to form yet another triangle in the evening sky.
Hope you have the opportunity to witness this incredible sight.
Good night,

NOTE:  Venus is situated below the crescent moon while Jupiter is positioned in the upper left corner of this image.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tonight's moon

Tonight, shortly after sunset, the thin waxing crescent moon dominated the western sky.  Keep an eye out on Saturday and Sunday evenings when the crescent moon forms a celestial triangle with the planets Jupiter and Venus.  Here's to clear skies on both those nights.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world.

Image specs:  Nikon D700, Nikor 300mm f/2.8 lens at f/6, 1000 ASA 1.6 sec exposure

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Yukon Quest 2012

Kyla Durham's pups resting in Pelly Crossing 

Kyla Durham departs Pelly at 12:06 Mon Feb 13

Brent Sass and his team depart Pelly 13:57 Feb 12

Brent Sass' team prepares to depart Pelly

A well deserved snooze after 700 miles

Team Marcelle Fressineau taking a rest in Pelly Feb 16

Joar Leifseth's team in Pelly (dogs from Norway)

Misha Pedersen's sled leaves Pelly Feb 14

Pups from Kyla Durham's team

Pelly Crossing - an official checkpoint in the Yukon Quest

The 29th annual running of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race between Fairbanks (Alaska) and Whitehorse (Yukon) is now officially one for the history books.  In what has become the closest finish in Quest history, musher Hugh Neff narrowly beat Allen Moore by twenty-six seconds in Whitehorse during the predawn hours of Valentines Day (total time: 9 days, 16 hrs and 5 mins).  What an accomplishment for both sleds, especially after having raced 1,600km.  Congratulations!

The 1,600km (1000 mile) route retraces the historic winter routes followed by the prospectors, adventure seekers, mail and supply carriers travelling between the gold fields of the Klondike and those in the Alaskan interior during the 1800 and 1900's.  The route runs along frozen rivers, over four mountain ranges, through valleys, dense bush and Northern towns.  Temperatures can range between minus 51 ºC and +8 ºC, while wind speeds have been clocked over 80km/hr.  Due to the difficult trail conditions, extreme weather and limited support between checkpoints, the Yukon Quest has often been referred to as "the most difficult sled dog race in the world".

Along the way there are ten checkpoints and four dog drops where veterinarians and race officials are present to record times, check gear and to ensure the health of the pups.  Mushers are not allowed receive outside help along the route with the exception of when they are in Dawson City, the halfway point.

Mushers, and their dogs, have a mandatory 36-hour layover when they reach Dawson City.  The first team into Dawson and, who later completes the race, receives a four ounce bag of placer gold.  Now, that is cool!

All teams pack aprox 100kg of gear, equipment and enough provisions for the mushers and pups to see them through between checkpoints.  Mushers are permitted to leave dogs at any checkpoint or dog drop but they cannot replace them.  Sleds may not be replaced.

The longest race time recorded was in 1988 when Ty Halvorson took 20 days, 8 hours and 29 mins to finish the race.  The fastest time occurred in 2010 when Hans Gatt completed the race in only 9 days and 26 mins.

Last weekend we had the privilege of welcoming the mushers and their teams to Pelly Crossing, one of the official checkpoints.  What a wonderful experience it was to meet them, their handlers, race officials and veterinarians and, of course the dogs who are the real hero's of the Quest.  Weather during this year's race had been unseasonable mild with temperatures recored as high as +8 ºC.  Due to the warm conditions, many mushers elected to run their teams at night when temperatures, and snow conditions, were more favourable for the pups.

While in Pelly, the mushers had the opportunity to resupply their provisions, have their dogs checked by vets and allow the pups some much needed rest if required.  Bales of hay were made available for the dogs to snooze on.

This year the race attracted teams from Norway, Siberia, across Alaska and from the Yukon.  Twenty-three teams began the Quest in Fairbanks, Alaska, on February 4th.  As of 7:40pm this evening, seventeen teams have crossed the finishline in Whitehorse with the final two teams expected to complete the race later tonight.  Five teams either scratched or withdrew from this years race.

Congratulations to all mushers, their pups and handlers, race officials and veterinarians for a fabulous race.  See you next year when the race kicks off in Whitehorse.

In the meantime I encourage you check out the official website of the YUKON QUEST for more information, race updates, images and bio's of the mushers and their dogs.  You can also check out a video of this year's Quest

Here's a neat tid bit of info - Brent Sass, one of the mushers, mentioned that he purchased 4,000 pairs of booties for the Quest (apparently many are lost along the way).

More pictures from Checkpoint Pelly available shortly.  Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


UPDATE:   21:34 (Feb 19) - the final two teams have crossed the finish line in Whitehorse.  Congrats!!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

An orange sky at night, a Yukoner's delight

The other night, shortly before the northern lights rippled across the evening sky, a thick cloud of smoke (from all the wood stoves burning) descended upon Pelly Crossing.  The lights from the houses and from the street lamps were absorbed by the smoke and, for few minutes that night, ignited the otherwise moonless sky into a fiery orange blaze.  Very eerie indeed!
Thankfully the cloud lifted in time to reveal the northern lights dancing overhead.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentine Lights

Today, shortly after 7pm, the clouds lifted in time to unveil tonights celestial show - A Valentine Dance of the Aurora.  What a show it was as the northern lights rippled and danced their way across our evening sky.  The show continued for hours. 

The above images were photographed with a Nikon D700 camera (Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 4000, f/4 and an exposure between 8-10 secs.).

Happy Valentines Day from the Yukon!