A few days ago I changed the blog header to my Christmas header. In 2007 when I first used this header, Aaron Leitz pointed out that he had a similar shot that he'd taken during the 2005 Christmas season from Gasworks park on a tripod and telephoto lens. The exact same series of lights with the same spacing and color appear in his shots. The enlargement on the top the right shows the lights above the Columbia Tower that I took during Christmas 2006 and the one on the lower right is Aaron's shot from 2005.
My photo was taken aboard the Shubumi, a motor yacht, co-owned by a friend during a Christmas ship tour near Christmas 2006 on Lake Union looking South towards downtown Seattle. Shooting on a rocking boat in the dark was a challenge. This shot is one of about 20 frames it took me to get this single least fuzzy shot. ISO 800, F2.8 @ 1/6 sec. I shot it hand-held standing as close to the center of the boat as I could get to minimize port to starboard and fore and aft motion.
I had always assumed that the pattern of lights (one red followed by 4 green lights) in the sky were a wing strobe from commercial air traffic in the traffic pattern for landing at Sea-Tac since when the weather at Sea-Tac is from the South the left turn to final approach is out over Elliot Bay which is just west of the downtown area. But Aaron challenged my assumptions about the series of lights being commercial air traffic. He argued correctly that since my shot was taken a 1/6 sec and his at 15 sec the spacing of the lights should be very different. Yet the lights were exactly the same. These are clearly not navigational strobes.
Aaron suggested that since neither of us covered up our viewfinder when we took these shots perhaps the lights were reflections coming in the viewfinder. We've discussed several theories on why the same light pattern was present in the same Seattle skyline view taken under different circumstances during Christmas a year apart. While doing the post today and reviewing the photos it occurred to me that we may be looking at Rudolph and Santa phenomena since Aaron's shot suggests that this is very slow moving air traffic. Eight reindeer, two on each side with green lights (the 4 green lights on their harnesses) with one red light in front (Rudolph)... Just a thought. Does anyone have any better theories?
For those of you in the Seattle area this week, go down to Gasworks Park and check this out. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!