ALICE SPRINGS PHOTO CHALLENGE: Click here to go straight to the conclusion.
As September 19th, 2014, approached, I realized there was something I wanted people in the center of Australia to know about. So I sent this message out on Twitter:
Suddenly people all over the world were retweeting the image! Thanks to Australian children's book writer Kat Apel, ABC Radio in Alice Springs picked up on the story, and called me for a little chat about this odd proposal. It aired on the morning of September 17th on Nadine Maloney's morning program (although I'm sure that in Australia it's a programme!)
Audio of the interview has been posted here.
During the chat, Nadine threw down this challenge to local photographers:
would you go out at 4:45 a.m. and take a picture that matches the one in the tweet?
So I promised that if anyone did, I would send them a signed copy of the book. Later I thought it would be nice also to send a copy of their photo with Moose and Zebra added by me.
Still later I began to worry about what I'd do if a barrage of pictures came in. However, honestly, if a single person actually does this I will be surprised. I wouldn't go out at 4:45 on a ridiculous errand like this! And photographing the night sky is not an easy thing to do; it requires a camera with long exposures possible, and a tripod, and perhaps a second exposure for the moon.
But Nadine pointed out that the Alice Springs sky is so resplendent that quite a few people there are dedicated stargazers (including a station regular nicknamed Starman), and they might just do it.
(What is the word for a resident of Alice Springs? An Alice Springer?)
Here is what Google Street View shows to be the same scene, looking east from just outside of town, on Undoolya Road, with the sun in just the place I want to see the moon:
Oddly enough, no animals such as moose or zebra are present in this scene. Could it be because animals don't belong in a shape book? (Read Circle, Square, Moose if you want to know what I mean.)
So during the first few minutes of September 19th in New York, I saw that ABC Radio had Tweeted a successful outcome! Patrick Nelson (@Nelson1Pat on Twitter) had gotten up and taken that photograph!
Unfortunately his camera hadn't been able to focus (and who can blame it at 4:45 am?) so in addition to general blurriness, the Moon looked full, but he also took a closeup of the Moon which was beautifully sharp, so I know that the phase was as I had it in the book.Thank you, Patrick, so very much! You will receive a book and a picture of Moose and Zebra in the real albeit very fuzzy Alice Springs!
It will take some puzzling out to see how the stars match-- it might be that the angles of view in the two photos are very different, or that the brightness of the stars allowed some that I put in the illustration to be seen in the photo and not others. At the moment I think I will leave that puzzling for later, if ever!
In any event, Patrick will be receiving a copy of Circle, Square, Moose, along with this, a combination of archival printout and watercolor, exactly like all of the original art for the Moose books.