We all know sea turtles dig the dark at our beaches. Light pollution distorts the natural ambient light pattern and confuses new-born hatchlings that need a dark, starry night sky to orient themselves toward the ocean.
As for the human species, stargazers have been headed to the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, one of the best dark sky destinations in the world. It's an area spanning 1,416 square miles stretching from Sun Valley/Ketchum through the craggy Sawtooth mountain range up to the tiny mountain town of Stanley.
Last year the International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA) announced the Reserve accreditation, marking the first of its kind in the United States. The super-strict designation applies to just a dozen places in the world, including remote regions in New Zealand, Germany, Wales, and Namibia in southern Africa, where the skies are so "exceptionally dark" the light pollution is nearly zero. The isolated locations must have a firm plan in place for long-term conservation.
In the Central Idaho Reserve shooting stars, meteors and comet sightings are the norm. So is the purple cloud of the Milky Way-- that torrent of stars which slashes across a deeply darkened sky in the southwest quadrant each night. Recognized for the quality and depth of the darkness, astro-photography opportunities are as plentiful as anywhere in the country.
Who'll be the first to take American astronauts to the International Space Station to claim the U. S. flag?
On the first space shuttle mission, STS-1, the crew planted the flag in the hatch of the International Space Station in 1981. The final 2011 shuttle flight left the flag behind in orbit, a prize to be claimed by the next crew to fly into space from U.S. soil.
SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (a Boeing and Lockheed Martin partnership) are locked in a pitched battle to be the first to reach orbit with astronauts on board their capsules. The commercial spaceships will be the first to launch U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil since NASA's space shuttle fleet retired in July 2011. Since then, NASA has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets and spaceships to fly U.S. astronauts in space.
After months of testing, a SpaceX Dragon capsule with its stubby nose and matte-black fins, was shipped to Cape Canaveral in mid-July. However, this Dragon won’t carry crew on its first flight, instead, it’s due to make an uncrewed practice run to the space station on a mission known as DM-1.
Who doesn’t love the genius of Andrew Lloyd Webber? The knighted English composer has created some of the most recognizable musical theatre productions of all time—from Cats and Evita to Jesus Christ Superstar and Phantom of the Opera as well as other hit musicals.
Singers from Orlando Light Opera, a program of Central Florida Vocal Arts, and Opera del Sol will join the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra in a stirring tribute to Webber with Music of the Night on Saturday, August 11 (7 p.m.) at the Scott Center for the Performing Arts at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy and Sunday August 12 (3 p.m.) at the Community Church of Vero Beach.
Delivered with the twin attributes of plush and power, Music of the Night promises to showcase all the glamour, magic and mystery of both musical theater and opera repertory. Broadway veteran Michelle Knight (Disenchanted, Jersey Boys, Finding Nemo) headlines the show along with mezzo soprano Sarah Purser, tenor Kit Cleto and baritone Michael John Foster. Also featured in the powerful concert are Stephanie Newman, Stephanie McCranie, Brian Hayes, and Andrew Lejeune. In addition to songs by Webber, the music of Sondheim, Rodgers, Weill, and other composers will be highlighted.
It could be a portal into the world F. Scott Fitzgerald described in his seminal novel "The Great Gatsby." Or an American version of the British mega-hit television show Downton Abbey. It's Castle Hill, a 59-room Stuart-style mansion overlooking the pristine sands of Crane Beach, once the summer estate home of Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane, Jr.
Today, Crane Beach is part of the Crane Estate in Ipswich, a splendid property owned and protected by The Trustees of Reservations. Just 30 miles northeast of Boston, it's a wonderful destination for history buffs and nature devotees alike. All told the estate encompasses more than 2,100 acres of beachfront, dunes, maritime forest and planned landscapes, managed for both recreation and conservation.
Bequeathed by the Crane family to The Trustees in 1949, the 1,400 acre Crane Memorial Reservation’s barrier beach stretches along Ipswich Bay and is separated from the mainland by Essex Bay and the Essex and Ipswich Rivers. The reservation includes a variety of habitats, including a drumlin known as Castle Hill, shrub thickets, cranberry bogs, salt marshes, dunes, and forests.
Native American tribes that originally inhabited the area called it “Agawam,” which translates to a lowland, marsh, or meadow. Colonized in 1633 by John Winthrop, Jr., son of the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Ipswich primarily remained a fishing and shipbuilding colony until the 1820s, when smugglers brought in the country’s first stocking machine from England. Amos A. Lawrence established the Ipswich Hosiery Mills in 1868, and by the turn of the century, the town had become the largest stocking manufacturer in the country.
Super-yacht owners accessorize their boats in a myriad of ways, from amphibious vehicles to a jet-chopper hybrid that will get them to the helicopter pad on deck faster. Latest on the list: a luxurious personal submarine.
Code named Project Neptune, the world's most luxurious personal submarine design was revealed at the 2017 Monaco Yacht Show in the glitzy South of France location. The initial drawings show a sleek looking sub with blue and gray colors, blade-like pontoons and an enormous transparent acrylic "bubble" of a cabin for maximizing incredible underwater views. Project Neptune's price tag, a cool $4.4 million, plus options.
The three-person sub marries the diving and operational expertise of Vero Beach's Triton Submarines with Aston Martin's design, materials and craftsmanship. Loved and revered in Britain, the century-old automaker is best known for making beautiful high performance sports cars. However, Aston Martin recently branched out into complementary side ventures. Project Neptune enhances its brand into new aspects of the luxury world such as the AM37 powerboat that partnered with Quintessence Yachts and a 66-story residential tower in Miami.
Triton has pioneered the sale of million dollar personal submersibles to the ever-growing - in both size and numbers - global fleet of super yachts. Triton's bright yellow subs are also aimed at explorers, scientists, and filmmakers pushing back the ocean's frontiers. In 2013, the first astonishing video footage of a giant squid was captured from a Triton 3300/3 submersible, while in 2016 Sir David Attenborough (at age 90) was seen exploring the Great Barrier Reef in a Triton sub for his BBC documentary series.
Anthony Horowitz knows his way around the bloody murder mystery genre. He is responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most beloved and successful television series, producing the first seven episodes (and the title) of Midsomer Murders and is also the writer and creator of award-winning series Foyle’s War, both of which aired on PBS.
Horowitz has been commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate and Orion Books to write two new Sherlock Holmes novels and by the Ian Fleming Estate to write the James Bond novel Trigger Mortis, which was published in September 2015. His first Holmes book-- The House of Silk-- was published in 2011 and internationally lauded as the top title of the autumn. The sequel, Moriarty, was published in October 2014 with similar success. Horowitz is known to younger fans as the writer of the Alex Rider series that has sold 19 million copies worldwide.
The 62-year old prolific British author's latest whodunit, The Word is Murder, opens with widowed socialite Diana Cowper, who makes arrangements for her own funeral, when the time comes. Her time comes just a few hours later. Cowper is found choked to death with a scarlet curtain cord in her home. Horowitz himself becomes a character when an ex-London cop named Hawthorne approaches Horowitz, the novelist, to chronicle how Hawthorne can crack the Cowper case and regain respectability.
Fired from his job at Scotland Yard for poor conduct, now Hawthorne wants Horowitz to turn his "real-life" cases into books, splitting the profits from the book 5o-50. Hawthorne seems to be straight out of central casting: aging loner who has problems with authority, smokes like a chimney, and is secretive, impatient, homophobic and tightfisted.
The launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center earlier this year was the latest in a series of milestones that has revived interest in the space industry and the hallow grounds that stretch along the Florida coast in Brevard County that has witnessed so many epic flights into outer space.
Traffic near the Kennedy Space Center was bumper to bumper, hotel rooms were sold out and hordes of press descended on the Kennedy Space Center, just like the good old days of the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. That's quite a turn-around from seven years ago after the government shutdown of the shuttle program, which led to massive furloughs in NASA’S workforce and employees leaving the Space Coast.
For the past fifteen years I’ve been a contributing writer to a variety of national & regional magazines, prominent daily news-papers and websites. I have written about an array of topics such as arts & culture, chefs, food & drink, business entrepreneurs, travel, history, thoroughbred racing, and the animal and natural world.
I'm currently a regular arts & culture contributor to WFIT's website (the NPR radio station in Melbourne.), Vero Beach Magazine and Florida Today newspaper on a number of topics. Over recent years my work has been published regularly in Blood-Horse, Long Island Boating World and The Hunt and PA Equestrian magazines.
I am a regular contributor to the websites JustLuxe.com and SeeTheSouth.com. JustLuxe is an online magazine featuring the best of luxury lifestyle and travel, while SeeTheSouth features truly unique southern destinations. My travel articles also regularly appear in Florida Today, Long Island Boating world and the Delaware County Times, a major daily newspaper just outside Philly.
I've also contributed a variety of articles to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the Delaware County Times, and the Montgomery County Newspapers. I have been an Arts & Culture correspondent for Newsworks, the website for WHYY-TV (PBS in Philadelphia). I have been a correspondent to ESPN.com, America's Best Racing, the Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Racing Commentary.
After spending the past two decades in Wilmington, Delaware, my wife Jane, our Toller retriever Smarty and I have moved to Melbourne Beach, Fla. Located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River, Melbourne Beach sits on the southern end of Florida's "Space Coast." The famed coastal highway A1A runs directly along the Atlantic. Melbourne Beach (pop. 3,000) offers unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters and thousands of beautiful seabirds and long-legged shorebirds.
Head north 35 miles on A1A and you arrive at Cape Canaveral, for decades our nation's gateway to exploring and understanding our universe. Today, Cape Canaveral is a hub for many of the most exciting new private space projects such as SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk (manufacturer of Tesla vehicles). Upwards of 30 launches are planned in 2017.
Back down to earth traveling on two-lane A1A south from Melbourne Beach's compact business area brings you to a series of secluded and undeveloped natural beaches. Bonsteel Park's two-acre beach provides an excellent vantage point to catch glimpses of passing dolphins, while the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is recognized as the most important nesting area for loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere. It's also home to the gigantic leatherback turtles.
Nearby is Sebastian Inlet State Park which connects the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean. Its jetty break is recognized as one of the surf world's high-performance hot spots. Three generations of world-class surfers have surfed here, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The 600-acre park is also celebrated for world-class fishing, and plenty of seabirds and wildlife.
Through my writing over the past decade I have traveled to spectacular destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. and Sun Valley, Idaho; Cody, Wyoming/Yellowstone Park; Saratoga Springs, the Adirondacks, Saratoga Springs and Rhinebeck, New York; Port Clyde and Monheghan Island, Maine; Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey; Middleburg, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.
Other travel adventures have included Tampa and St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Florida; and St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia. My travel articles thoughtfully explore the history of the region along with museums, music and the arts, chefs and restaurateurs, wineries and craft breweries, outdoor and sporting adventures as well as profiling intriguing personalities of those regions.
In addition to my writing career I owned a marketing company where I represented a diversified list of clients in the areas of publicity, marketing and business development-- such as the famed Baldwin's Book Barn, Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Kahunaville restaurant chain. In another life I was the founder, publisher and editor of Life Sports Magazine.
Along with Jane and Smarty I look forward to writing about new adventures in Melbourne Beach, the "Space Coast" and other Florida destinations. That's Smarty below with his pals Willie and Nelson.