West Seattle, Washington
9:31 PM: Don’t know yet what this was but we’ve received multiple reports, including the text that had the video attached, as seen from Alki Avenue SW. Help us sleuth it! We’ll add whatever we turn up.
9:57 PM: One commenter points to the possibility it was just a contrail. Haven’t found any meteor or rocket reports so that just might be it; still looking just in case.
11:10 PM: Our favorite expert skywatcher Alice Enevoldsen believes it’s a contrail. She writes:
tl;dr–In my expert opinion: contrail.
Longer answer: of course I don’t know for absolutely certain, who could possibly know that, besides the pilot? So let’s run through the main reasonable possibilities.
Space Junk Reentry
As mentioned by the viewers of the video (yay! thank you!) it could be space junk, right? You’re absolutely correct, there’s space junk burning up in our atmosphere all the time. That bright second half of the line sure looks like fire too. The speed is wrong though. Most reentries go a similar speed, since they’re stuff entering our atmosphere from orbit. Controlled reentries have a slightly different speed than uncontrolled ones, but they all tend to be a good bit faster than this is moving.
Here’s a gif of a satellite going about twice as fast as usual.
Again, the speed is wrong. Meteors go much faster, they’re also known as shooting stars. When your friend says “look! A shooting star!” by the time you look, it’s gone. The Chelyabinsk meteor seemed to go a bit slower, because it was huge (as average meteors go) and therefore got deeper into our atmosphere than most. Here’s a gif of a meteor, going about normal speed.
From our point of view looking at the sky on a given day, comets don’t move.
For something long, thin, and cloud-like the first direction to examine is a contrail. The speed of the object is correct for an airplane moving out of our field of view. Also, the direction works, because this “downward” path is consistent with a plane travelling west and eventually disappearing over the horizon. We still have some questions: why do we see it go so far down, and why is the contrail two colors: dark and “fire”?”
Both colors can be explained by the direction of travel and the time. This is around sunset. The end of the plane’s contrail is in the evening sky, in a position that is after sunset and therefore in the Earth’s shadow. The plane’s current position is in sunlight, but as it is sunset, the position is brightly lit with all the colors of the sunset. It is brighter than the clouds it appears near, because it is higher than them and therefore in brighter sunlight than them.
It is potentially possible that the lighting of this contrail makes it so we can see the plane and it’s contrail longer than usual, contributing to the “straight down” appearance of the trail. I’m not certain of that explanation for this part. It could also be as simple as observation bias: this one is so cool, we don’t remember other contrails going this direction.
P.S. Details soon on Alice’s summer-solstice sunset watch!
Texter noted military aircraft in the area. Looks like it’s for Military Appreciation Day at the Sounders FC match vs. Salt Lake, 2 pm, with pregame ceremonies scheduled to include U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers from Whidbey Island’s VAQ-129 Squadron.
“D in West Seattle” sent that photo this week after the flamingo flock turned up outside a neighbor’s house. It’s been a few years since the peak of the flamingo-flocking fad, and D wondered what we might have heard about who’s doing this right now (and why). The sign in the photo was a big hint – we found contact info online for the West Seattle branch of Young Life, a faith-based organization, and area director Alison Bray answered our inquiry: They’re flocking through July as a fundraiser, $50, West Seattle/White Center area only: “All donations help local middle-school and high-school students attend camp this summer.” If you’re interested, you can contact Alison – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, a commercial in Sunrise Heights; this weekend, a short film along Beach Drive. We saw the trucks and equipment late today outside a waterfront complex south of Constellation Park and stopped by to inquire; they just said the shoot is for a “short film” and they will be done this evening. Subsequently combing various corners of the internet, we turned up a production-help-wanted listing mentioning a West Seattle shoot this weekend for an independent short film called “Victory“; cross-referencing that to an audition call, the plot summary is: “Our film catapults the viewer into the last fifteen minutes of the story of a mysterious insurgency group trying to do something about a chain-reaction holocaust.” We’ll make a note to watch for it when it’s done.
Three Easter Sunday scenes from around our area:
GIVING: Courtney e-mailed to let us how her brother, sister-in-law, and their children (photo above) spent their Easter morning – traveling around the area to give food and other life necessities to unsheltered people on the street. “I was so very touched by his heartwarming idea he just woke up with this morning,” she said.
WORSHIPING: Ann Anderson shared the photo above from the annual Alki Beach sunrise service coordinated by Admiral UCC, Alki UCC, and Fauntleroy UCC, one of West Seattle’s two annual Easter Sunday sunrise services.
SHINING: Ann also shared that photo of the sunrise itself, from Duwamish Head.
1:32 PM: We’re getting a flurry of questions about loud jets. Checked the flight tracker – they’re all commercial jets, to/from Sea-Tac Airport. So we’ll be checking with the airport next to see if anything unusual’s happening – might just be an abrupt weather change – we’ll update if we find out more.
1:36 PM: A caller points out there are military jets in the area too. Still checking.
1:40 PM: Sorry we hadn’t heard about this in advance: Military flyover for the Mariners‘ home opener (which has the odd start time of 2:10 pm, as we noted in today’s morning traffic report). That would tend to divert commercial traffic for a while, as when the Blue Angels are flying, for example.
2:27 PM: Mariners spokesperson Rebecca Hale replies, “We did inform media this morning of the possibility of the fly-over. As it was weather dependent, we weren’t sure it was going to happen until the last minute.” Of the many media lists WSB is on, somehow we weren’t on the M’s list, but we’re fixing that.
Back on March 22nd, Mary Gorjance sent us that photo of an SDOT crew installing the new “Duwamish Waterway” sign at the crest of the high bridge. We later noticed an identical sign newly installed on the low bridge. We hadn’t gotten around to asking SDOT about the new signs … but tomorrow morning we’ll get the backstory, as a media briefing is planned near the one on the low bridge. The announcement from the city says that representatives of the Duwamish Tribe and Southwest Seattle Historical Society will be there along with City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, to “discuss the significance of the Duwamish River to the City of Seattle and the importance of the ‘Duwamish Waterway’ signage.”
From the “in case you wondered too” file – that wasn’t a fire call on 26th SW at the west end of SW Alaska in North Delridge, just Seattle Fire Department crews training. In fire situations, “ventilation” through the roof is often required, and as with most things, practice really helps, and doomed houses are excellent training grounds. We went over for a look, but they were gone, so we weren’t able to get additional details, but the neighbor who texted the photo says they were told other crews will be by in the days ahead.
Thanks for the texted tip, wondering about people with flags at Don Armeni. We were nearby and diverted to find out. We learned this was a long-distance campaign rally supporting the incumbent governor of the Indonesian province of Jakarta, who’s in a runoff vote next month – the people in our photo (and others who were leaving as we pulled up) were taking photos to send to show international support. The big issue, they told us: Corruption, and incumbent governor Basuki’s stand against it.
The Christian observance of Lent began today with Ash Wednesday. That meant special services – and they weren’t all within the walls of churches. This morning, Katy Lloyd photographed Admiral Congregational Church pastor Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom in The Junction this morning, where, she explained, he was offering “ashes to go.” Online research before we published the photo revealed that this is a worldwide movement involving clergy taking the Ash Wednesday tradition to the streets.
The West Seattle neighborhoods that didn’t get their regular Monday solid-waste pickup because of last week’s snow day were invited to put out double this week to make up for it. That made for a longer day, according to some WSB commenters who mentioned late-arriving trucks. And one of those trucks ended the day with a breakdown. Ann Anderson sent photos and the story of how it was rescued:
I always find the behind the scenes of city works to be really interesting. Don’t know how many others do, but on my way home tonight about 8:30 pm, the neighborhood was all lit up by what I thought were fire engines. Turns out all the oncoming glare and flashing lights were due to Garbage Truck No. S297S, disabled on SW Atlantic St. in North Admiral.
So I wondered – when a fully loaded, 20-ton truck breaks down, who ya gonna call?
Michael, the tow truck driver, answered my questions while finishing a fairly involved procedure needed to prep the garbage truck for towing. This required him to lie down beneath 200 tons of steel-encrusted garbage hoisted several feet off the ground directly above him. He said that when the garbage trucks break down on the road, they call the City’s towing contractor, Quality Towing, for whom Michael works.
Lifting and hauling away behemoths like garbage trucks is quite a production and takes some time. The tow rig is 40 feet long and is so big that it makes a hulking garbage truck actually look small.
The rig is equipped with a whopping 550 hp that can yield 100,000 lbs. of lift, so hoisting 40,000 lbs. of garbage truck is only a moderate workout.
I asked Michael how often garbage trucks break down. He said that it happens almost every day. He then added, “there are a LOT of trucks out there”.
It seems it takes going without, even for a short time due to inclement weather, for us to appreciate city services (like curbside garbage pickup) as well as the wide range of service workers who consistently ensure they happen for us – often at all hours of the day and night.
Thanks again for sharing photos your fellow West Seattleites might enjoy! First we have two more of the moon showing off – above, from Kersti Muul, as it approached the Olympic Mountains’ iconic peaks The Brothers early today; below, two from Marc, first, moonrise beauty from earlier this week:
And a little whimsy:
Just waiting patiently for its person, but from a certain angle, it looked like that dog was about to drive away, Marc says.
(Photo to share? If breaking news – text to 206-293-6302 if you can; if not breaking, email@example.com – thank you!)
And they circled back again… pic.twitter.com/GO4MHtYBmn
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) November 20, 2016
We just noticed two military jets circling over Puget Sound west of here – multiple circles – and confirmed via the game preview on the Seahawks website, “Immediately following the anthem, U.S. Navy VAQ-132 Squadron will conduct a flyover with two EA Growlers (F-18s).” According to Boeing’s website, they’re a variant of the planes flown by the Blue Angels. VAQ-132 is based at Whidbey Island.
Thanks to Woody’s Aeroimages for the heads-up via Twitter – Amazon‘s first-ever Prime Air jet is doing a photo shoot over the city, and we hear it’s been spotted over West Seattle. The 767-300 flew during Seafair; here’s more about it from GeekWire.
Thanks to Karen Derby for the photo from another event in The Admiral District tonight – the West Seattle Motorcycle Club‘s monthly ride-in at Pizzeria 22. She reports “a good turnout,” adding, “Hopefully next month will bring even more folks and more variety of bikes.” If you’re an interested rider, next month’s ride-in is Tuesday, August 9th. (It’s a standing listing in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar, as are meetings of other clubs that are open to new participants/members – e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in adding yours.)
12:57 PM: One surprise so far today: A GoodYear Blimp flyby:
Thanks to everybody who texted and sent photos! We were at Hamilton Viewpoint Park, covering post-West Seattle 4th of July Kids’ Parade festivities, when someone texted that the blimp had flown over Burien and was headed this way; minutes later, we spotted it over Elliott Bay. While the GoodYear Blimp website includes a comprehensive schedule, it doesn’t mention a Seattle stop during its current Northwest visit – via Twitter, we see it was in Chehalis last night.
GoodYear actually has more than one blimp – this one is the semi-recently-moved-to-California Spirit of Innovation, 10 years old and due to be retired next year.
P.S. If you want to check on its whereabouts, use your favorite flight tracker and look for N4A. We’re seeing it near Whidbey Island right now.
ADDED 1:51 PM: One more photo – while reviewing our photographer’s images from the Colman Pool 75th-anniversary party, we noticed the blimp was overhead while members of the Sears family – longtime pool operators – were at centerstage:
(A separate story about the pool celebration is coming up.)
‘PEACE TO ORLANDO AND EVERYWHERE’: On a fence in West Seattle, photographed by a reader:
BANNER PLANNED: In a comment on our earlier report of the mayor’s statement about the Orlando massacre, Sam announced plans for a support banner at Alki Statue of Liberty around 3:30 pm this afternoon.
Artists, music, barbecue, and drinks, outside Ola and Duos in the 2900 block of SW Avalon Way, until 4 pm.
ADDED 3:15 PM: A card and flowers are outside OutWest Bar (California/Brandon).
Final words for tonight:
5:04 PM: We’ve been getting questions about an Alaska Airlines jet flying over West Seattle, accompanied by a smaller plane. It’s a “photo flight,” we’re told via Twitter.
— Woodys Aeroimages (@woody2190) April 1, 2016
5:16 PM: Added a photo texted by James Tilley, atop this story – thank you!
5:36 PM: And one more photo from James, above – plus, below, Woody’s Aeroimages gave us permission to republish its tweeted photo of the two planes’ takeoff:
— Woodys Aeroimages (@woody2190) April 2, 2016
Alaska Airlines unveiled its updated look two months ago.
“Give Peeps a chance!” Thanks to Sandy for the photos of Peeps creations on display in Fairmount. Not sure if they’re still out in all their glory now that the rain’s back, but they were delighting passersby on Saturday, including Sacha‘s “Peep-a-pult”:
We spotted that row of “No Parking” signs, from Luna Park eastward to Duwamish Head, this afternoon, and took a closer look. Any time you see a series of signs like that, some of them are supposed to have explanatory information attached, and once we found those infosheets, we discovered that 10 am-7 pm on Saturday, the spaces are saved for a “production shoot” by Sean Cope Pictures. We sent and left messages, and received a reply saying it will be “just plate shots for a car/lifestyle photo shoot. Very small shoot. Nobody famous, just a local shoot.” So if you see the crew on Saturday, now you know.
Thanks to Alki photographer David Hutchinson for the view of tonight’s “Snow Moon” full-moonrise, looking east to downtown, from Duwamish Head in West Seattle. Might be a nice morning moonset, a few minutes before ~7 am sunrise, per the chart you can find any time on the WSB West Seattle Weather page.
It’s a misty Valentine’s Day, but don’t let that get in the way:
FARMERS’ MARKET POETRY: That’s Douglas from Jet City Improv. Yes, he’s at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market. But no, he said, he’s not performing Shakespearean love sonnets as promoted – he’s improvising poems, just for you. With flowers.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR, AND ON THE DOOR: Two photos from Ann Anderson – first, crows at Hamilton Viewpoint:
Ann says the couple are residents there, and that crows, in general, are “courting January – March and trying to secure nesting sites by February. That means they will also begin defending them more so it’ll get noisier in the mornings soon. I love how tender they are with each other.”
Also from Ann:
She spotted the decorations on the door of a family she says is new to her neighborhood.
LOVE ON THE TRAIL: From Kim P, a sighting on the bluff trail at Lincoln Park:
We appreciate your photos! email@example.com is the best way to share them – or via the WSB Flickr group.