**Winner of the 2007 Secret Santa Contest To see other websites by this designer for as low as $99/year visit  getiws.com**

::Secret Santa 2007 :: 

Secret Santa Contest ? The official CaravelNet Forum community activity of December 2007!

In summery: You make a wish, someone else picks it to fulfill and then everyone votes on how well you did fulfilling it. The best part is everyone gets a wish fulfilled! To see a learn more about this contest see the detailed summary at the bottom of this page or go to caravelgames.com and view the whole contest.

The Wish To Fulfill...

The Secret Santa Wish...

                                                   "I wish for a picture of a beautiful night sky."

My dear Wisher, you only asked for 'a picture of a beautiful night sky', just one, such a sweet simple wish, but hunting for that perfect pictures took me to so many good photos that I just couldn't stop myself once I got started. I wanted the very best photo not just a drawing or a piece of art, but the real deal, the brilliant night sky. 

Searching my own collection and the collections of others took me back to some of my most favorite memories, memories  of special nights spent outside under our grand night sky. A sky we share with each person on the earth, what a wonder this sky is, it is always changing, and yet somehow it is always the same no matter where on earth you view it from. It has comforted many separated friends and families members to know that as they look up into the same night sky as love one far across the globe. That they see the same moon the same stars and planets. 

Think of me when next you peer in to the night sky, I may be thinking of you as well.

The Journey...

The moon and mars by gailswebplace.comHere is a photo of the Moon and Mars that I took myself, out on my back porch, just a few weeks ago. I wish I could have captured the details of the moons face, it was so clear even to the naked eye. But it was too bright for my digital camera.

If you look closely you will see a bright blur next to the moon on the right. That is Mars. It was Mars that had my attention, so close to the almost full moon. I took this shot with my digital camera through the leafless branches of a tree in my yard. can you feel the cold winter chill of the night air?

The Journey...

moonlight on water from www.sxc.hu 

This one reminded me of the night I was at sea on a cruise ship. The night was pitch black because there was no moon, but a single star shone like it was the moon itself. This picture of the moon reminded me of that star. 

The Journey...

The moon and mars by gailswebplace.comHere is a photo I took of the Moon rising over the desert mountains, in near Mojave. While it is not quite night, it was the wonderful time of twilight, and the moon was huge.

If you look closely you can see the details of the Moon. Its the best shot of the Moon I have been able to get to date. 

The Journey...

moonlight on water from www.sxc.hu 

This one reminded me of the night Jesus was born. The star, which is probably a planet, is bright up in the sky. Maybe to the Magi the star they followed looked as bright. 

The Journey...

pure moonlight from www.sxc.hu 

Have you ever walked at night when it was so bright it was almost like daytime, with a peacefulness that makes you want to forget all danger and just walk forever with the creator of the stars in heaven, just enjoying His creation. This photo takes me back to those special nights.

The Journey...

The 2007 lunar eclipse seen from CA by gailswebplace.com 

This year my husband and I spent a wonderful summer night this last August watching and timing the lunar eclipse. I took my own photos that night here is one...

Lunar Eclipse from Morguefile_com.jpg 

...but my photos lacked the clarity of one I found so I included it too because it took me back.

The Journey...

Los Angeles night skyline from www.sxc.hu 

...Picking a 'beautiful night sky picture' was like picking an ice cream flavor for someone you have never met. Do you stick with the traditional favorite vanilla or do you take a risk and pick strawberry chocolate nut cream? Maybe something in the middle is best or a Neapolitan. I think of stars when you say night sky but others may think of the city lights, so the header above is of the city lights of Los Angeles my home community. By the way, the streaks in the sky are airplanes.

The Journey...

Stars and sunset from US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

While the tree reminded my of an African savanna the stars reminded me of home when I was a teen. 30 years ago you could look up in our night sky above our family home and even though it was just outside of Los Angeles, the sky was just that full of stars. You could easily see the Milky Way, these days I am lucky to see just the very brightest of them but Orion is always my friend.

Credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Journey...

Star through the clouds from Morguefile_com.jpg 

...This one gives you just that glimmer of stars through the clouds. That feeling you get when the storm is over and all is calm again.

You really have to see the full view to see the stars through the break in the clouds. Just click on the image for the full view.

The Journey...

green northernlights credit NASA 

Image to left: The wonder of the Northern Light. I have only seen it once, on a night it the Dakota's when I was a teenager. It was wonderful. (credit: NASA)

red northernlights from US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

Image to right : A snow covered woods aflame with the lights. (credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) 

southern lights from space credit NASA 

Image to left: Not to leave out our southern and space fairing friends. This view of the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, was photographed by an astronaut aboard Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-39) in 1991. (credit: NASA)

The Journey...

Earthrise over the Moon credit NASA 

Still there was one night sky view that I knew was just out of my reach. One that I have wanted to see all my life with my own eyes but would have to rely on pictures instead. A view that could not be seen from earth or even the space station. Because it was from the Moon and it was of the Earth Rise over the Moon. (credit: NASA)

::Merry Christmas 2007:: 

Secret Santa Wish Reveal...

I wish for a picture of a beautiful night sky. !

In the end I did pick ONE, the VERY best of the best. But I also decided to share a few of the other 'best of the best' night sky photos that I found along the way. Photos that took me back to great memories of great night skys of the past. Photos of  places I have seen, places I hope to see and of skys I wished I had seen. 

Finally I found it. the winner the picture that I had been looking for. My thanks to Guillaume Dargaud, of http://www.gdargaud.net/Photo/Astrophoto.html. In addition to his wonderful collection of free wallpaper images he offers for your personal use for free, he has an enthralling blogs of his adventures in Antarctica and shooting photos there, well worth the read. This one shot captured what I was looking for: Plenty of stars above the (Spanish) countryside. Just like home in the days gone by. Don't you feel like you are standing right there....

stars above the spanish countryside gdargaud.net

image credit : 1993-2007 Guillaume Dargaud used with permission www.gdargaud.net

2nd runners up...

Milky Way above the glaciology shelter 

Guillaume Dargaud had these two other photos that almost got my first place position. But not quite, while they are awesome and wonderful, they included non-natural items in them.

Antartica Sky Glacio Shelter After Dark 

...but my  

jaw just drops looking at them, so I had to include them for you. Thanks Guillaume for letting me share.

image credit : 1993-2008 Guillaume Dargaud used with permission www.gdargaud.net

What you can do with these photos...

Each photo has the source of the photo in the name and the discription that should show up when you pass the cursor over it.

The three photos by Guillaume Dargaud are copyright protected. To see if you have permissions of use them go to his copyright page at: http://www.gdargaud.net/Photo/Copyright.html#ContactHere

The photos credited to NASA

"NASA still images, audio files and video generally are not copyrighted. You may use NASA imagery, video and audio material for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits and Internet Web pages. This general permission extends to personal Web pages." http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html

The photos credited to US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

"NOAA/NESDIS websites are provided as a public service by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. Information presented on these webpages is considered public information and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline/photo/image credits is requested. This policy covers privacy, disclaimers, security, and information collection practices."


The photos credited to gailswebplace.com are my photos and are under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

Creative Commons License