January 20-21 2019: The Super Blood Wolf Moon!

The first full moon of 2019 featured a total eclipse visible across much of North America. I have always enjoyed the night sky, starting when I hunted at night with my Dad. When my family and I lived in northern Kenya in the late 80s, we were astounded by the brilliance of a moonless starry night.

Orion in the night sky
Orion over Mom’s house

We even experienced a lunar eclipse not long after moving there.

Lunar eclipse, northern Kenya, 1985

So I was pretty excited about this event. There was a lot of hype leading up to it as a “Super Blood Wolf Moon”! “Blood Moon” because the moon is somewhat reddish from light scattered through earth’s atmosphere when it is in total eclipse. “Super Moon” because the moon is at its closest to earth. And some native cultures called the January full moon the “Wolf Moon”.

There was also good information on the photography websites about equipment and settings to use. My camera is an Olympus EM-5, a mirroless, micro 4/3 piece. I chose to use the longest lens I own, a 200mm Minolta manual lens that I bought on eBay for $25. I have an adapter to mount it on the EM-5.

A few nights before I set the camera up on the tripod to take some shots and see what settings worked best for me. For a bright moon, what looked best to me was to set the ISO to 200, manually set the aperture on the lens to f/11 and shoot at 1/350.

Camera settings test

Sunday the 20th turned out to be very cloudy and blustery, almost gale force winds! But the weather report called for it to clear up later that night. I was up in the St. Pete/Clearwater area for the weekend and headed for home about 7 pm.

As I approached Ft. Myers the clouds thinned and the moon was bright. It was actually very interesting to watch the fast moving clouds pass in front of the moon. At home I got set up and the eclipse started about 10:30 pm. The sky was totally clear by then. At first the bright settings looked good – f/11, ISO 200, 1/250 with the Minolta 200mm.

Beginning of the eclipse
Beginning of the eclipse

As the eclipse progressed, I needed to adjust settings. The second shot about halfway into the event, I lowered the speed to 1/180.

halfway ecllipsed
About halfway eclipsed

The third, nearing totality, at f/8, ISO 640, 1/90.

Almost to total eclipse
Almost total

And then right about midnight the eclipse was total and the moon turned somewhat red. The last shot settings were f/8, ISO 1000, 1 second exposure.

Blood moon
The blood moon

And then it was time to get some sleep!

The 2015 ECHO Annual Conference

Full title “ECHO International Agriculture Conference 2015”. Last week (Nov. 17th to 19th) was the 22nd annual conference. Over 200 delegates listened to plenary speakers, attended workshops and got to know each other. Many have been to a number of conferences and so it feels a bit like a family reunion!

It is the only time during the year that we here in Florida are able to be in the same room with so many people in our global network. I’d like to tell you about one of those people.

Roy and his family have served in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and the Central African Republic for almost 40 years. In their mission work they assist local partners in meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of rural communities He has planted thousands of trees and has been through several coups and evacuations.

He found out about ECHO in the early years of the organization, back in the 80’s. He has read most of our development notes and technical notes, he has received seeds, and we have even sent live trees to him in Africa. He always attends this annual conference when he is in the US on home assignment.

In turn Roy has shared his knowledge and experience with ECHO. Three of our interns have served with he and his family after their internships here in Florida. And Roy has spent time at ECHO as a missionary in residence.

He shared at our closing banquet that part of the purpose of home assignment or furlough is to spend time with people that support their ministry and to spend time with family. And Roy feels that ECHO is family and so he must come see us whenever possible.

Even though Ellen and I would rather be in Africa we count it a wonderful privilege to be able to provide information and give advice to people like Roy and his family who are living and serving in communities around the world.

November = Thanksgiving


This month we look forward to Thanksgiving.

It is the year for the every-other-year Hargrave family reunion in Palatka. We’ll get together to catch up with aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws and all the little kids that make up the next generation. And food of course!!

Our family is widely scattered but Ginny and Stephen will be coming from New Mexico.

As for me I am very thankful for:

  • my family
  • many other blessings from God that would take several pages to list!

May you be blessed as well.


Tuesday in Arusha

Our trip from the USA to Tanzania went very well and we arrived in Arusha Saturday night.

Sand Dam
Construction in progress at Kimokowa sand dam

Yesterday (Monday) we went with two of our contacts and their staff on a visit to two sand dam projects up near the Kenya border. For more on sand dams see this link for the ECHO technical note on Sand Dams.

Kimokowa Terrace
Terraces are dug by hand

It was encouraging to witness the cooperative effort between the communities and the assisting NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations).


Since we were in Tanzania we decided we should see some of the countryside so on Sunday we went on a day trip to Tarangire National Park. Photos from that safari are online in this web album.