Things in the Sky

Bonaparte’s Gull

This morning I woke up when it was still dark outside and looked out of the skylight over our bed to an amazing sight: a few wispy clouds drifting by a crescent moon surrounded by some very bright stars.

“Amazing view,” I said to MEH (My Engineer Husband), who was still sleeping because he’s a little less enthusiastic about early mornings than I am.

Nonetheless, MEH had to see. And we looked at the beautiful sky view together.

“A crescent moon, the bright stars, and a satellite,” MEH said sleepily.

“A satellite?” I looked up and saw what looked like a moving star, crossing the sky framed by the skylight window.

“Yeah, I think it’s the Space Station.”

Sure enough, when I looked at NASA’s website, the ISS (International Space Station) crossed over southern Maine at 5:01 a.m., this morning, visible only for 4 minutes. And we happened to see it—what are the odds: a cloudless morning in Maine, we happen to look up through a very small window just for the 4 minutes the ISS is traveling 17,500 mph, about 240 miles from Earth. (By the way, if you’ve never seen the ISS before, check out this NASA website to see when it will be in the skies near you—it’s an amazing and extraordinary experience.)

“Bye guys,” I said to the 6-member crew as the ISS sped from view.

A very exciting way to start the day.

(Sunday, November 20, 2011, 7:04 a.m. EST, 49 degrees F)

Less than two hours later, we stood at our usual bridge overlook to make the weekly beach video, and we witnessed another flying thing we’d never seen before. If you look closely in the video, through the Birch tree on the right, you’ll see a white bird flying close to the water. We’d never seen this bird before, so despite the high tide, we walked down to the water’s edge to get a better view.

When we got home, we compared our photos to our bird books and online resources and discovered we’d seen a first-winter Bonaparte’s Gull. This lovely bird stayed very near shore and let us take as many photos as we wanted to.


  1. Lucky you seeing the space station and the Bonaparte’s Gull – how fantastic! Your view out of your window this morning sounds perfect. How lovely to share with MEH too. My view out of the window this morning was… FOG – we were well and truly SOCKED IN! Thanks for sharing this Julia.

  2. Ann says:

    That was SO COOL! Truly what are the odds….I wake up every morning at 7:15 and I am NOT a morning person! It takes a while for me to get going, but I’m up and out the door by 8 to have coffee with my friend. I think because I’m up til 3am blogging that is the kicker! However, you know I love my naps!

    I love the idea of a sky light. What do you do with the winter and the snow? Do you cover it?

    It looks like it was a beautiful morning on the beach today…I have to check the video again – I missed the bird!

    Happy Sunday to both of you!

  3. Abi, It was such a wonderful surprise to see the Space Station, very cool way to start the day! As for the fog, I love that too — sometimes it’s such a relief to be SOCKED IN and not be able to go anywhere (of course it can also be a nuisance!).

    Ann, It was a one in a million wasn’t it? I can’t believe you blog until 3 a.m.; of course you probably can’t believe I’m up by 5! The skylight is great, all year, because it’s an old house it only has one window per upstairs bedroom — much needed light! We don’t need to cover them in winter, the snow melts faster on them when the heat rises to the glass.

  4. Hey lady! you are an early bird…but as they say, the early bird gets the good pictures. 🙂

  5. Wow, so cool! Look at what you were able to see this morning. I’m so impressed. That bird photo is just beautiful too.

  6. Stephanie, Yes, sometimes there are advantages of being an early riser! It’s also when I write most productively, too! Are you an early riser, too?

    Leah, It was very cool, no question–we really lucked out! And I’m glad you enjoyed the photo of the gull; it was so nice to stick around so I could get one I liked!

  7. That’s just one of those amazing moments of sheer connectedness. There they are, floating around up above earth, and even though they didn’t know it, you were watching their flight through the skies… Wow, what a poetic start to the day. 😀


  8. Ashlee, That’s *exactly* what I was thinking as I watched it crossing the skylight! 😀

  9. That’s crazy you got to see the space station AND knew what it was. Good thing it wasn’t that nuclear waste, or whatever piece of dying technology is about to rain down on Earth.

  10. Sara, It was quite exciting and believe me I never would’ve known to even look at the NASA website — that’s all thanks to MEH!! (thank goodness it wasn’t nuclear waste or it might’ve been a direct hit on Maine!)

  11. That’s amazing that you caught the satellite at right that moment. Sounds like early morning bliss. I love reading these posts because they remind me of how rich the simplest moments truly are.

  12. Natalia, It was the most wonderful morning, and I agree — reminded me of how important just the simplest things in life are!

  13. How lucky that you and MEH caught that satellite, Julia! I’ve always been fascinated by the stars, and I miss the skylight I used to have in my bedroom as a teenager.

  14. lisa ahn says:

    I love when those perfect moments happen!
    We just got an iPad and there is a great app called SkyView that will show you where the ISS is — and all the constellations, planets, satellites — everything. Just point it at the sky, and it shows you what’s up there. My kids LOVE it (and so do my husband and I).

  15. Julia, I love your beach videos! They are so peaceful and calming.
    How amazing that you saw the space station. An extraordinary coincidence that you were just meant to see.

  16. What a sight to wake up to! I would probably have thought it a falling star and jumped up and down making a wish! tee hee

    And can I just say, that video… I could stare at it for hours I think… it’s sooo soothing, amazing! LOVE it!

  17. Jolina, Skylights are so wonderful for stars and other celestial objects! I felt soooo lucky to catch the space station!

    Lisa, Aren’t those moments amazing? MEH has a similar app on his android, and you encouraged me to download one for my iphone — now it’ll be easier for me to identify what’s in the sky, too. Thanks for the tip!

    Jackie, I’m glad you enjoy the beach videos! It’s so interesting to see how the view changes with the seasons!

    DoSweattheSmallStuff, I really did feel like making a wish on the space station. It was beautiful!!

  18. Jamie says:

    Wow. It really was high tide. I’m fascinated with tides. We go to an island off coast of GA, St. Simons, and the entire beach disappears in spots. I love to watch the water rush in and out. And I have seen the Space Station too. Though it was a few years ago. I remember being struck with how fast it was moving. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

  19. Jamie, I’m fascinated by tides too — and I’m also pretty envious of the thought of an island off Georgia, sounds gorgeous! I was struck by the space station’s speed, too, which made it all the more remarkable that we happened to see it! We had a lovely Thanksgiving — hope you did too!!