Monday, July 04, 2011

Festivities in Inverness

On July 3, 2011, I attended the Patriotic Evening celebration in Inverness, FL. Click here for the city's report on last year's event.

This marked my first time at the celebration. I joined the Citrus County chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) at Liberty Park. We did a brisk business selling Gatorade, iced tea, sausage (pork and turkey) with onions and peppers, and fabulous chocolate oatmeal cookies. Our booth also offered literature on NAMI, The Centers, and The Light House, an ICCD-certified clubhouse.

Liberty Park had filled with numerous vendors and civic associations. The event included children's games, color guard, a salute to veterans, concert, and fireworks. People started gathering shortly after 5 p.m. ...

... and kept gathering as dusk fell.

Not caught on camera were the numerous bats that came out for a meal at this time, sparing us the appetites of mosquitoes. I also spotted the occasional dragonfly.

Soon, the Neon Truckers were up and performing.

They provided the lead-in for a stunning fireworks display lasting almost half an hour.

This shot is from the fireworks finale. I've also posted a video of part of the display.

Shortly after the fireworks display began, I spotted (around 9:35 as I checked my watch) what I at first thought was a low-flying and bright plane emerging from the northwest, on course to pass directly above the fireworks. That would give its occupants one terrific view. As I continued watching, I realized that it didn't blink at all and moved at a steady pace. Unlike a plane, it dimmed and faded from view before it had finished "crossing" the sky, and I knew I'd watched an artificial satellite. I estimated its maximum altitude off the horizon at around 45 degrees.

I had never seen an artificial satellite as bright as this one. Based on data at Heavens Above, it may have been the International Space Station. Here's the ISS path from my location:

Image credit: Heavens Above

Time of maximum altitude: 9:36:42 p.m. (21:36:42) at 40 degrees, fading into the Earth's shadow at 9:38:14. Terrific view, indeed!

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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