Archive for June, 2012

Sha’baan 1433 Starts

This evening ended the Month of Rajab by the completion of 30 days.  Sighting the moon was not a necessity and yet it is still enjoyable.  Even more so with an afternoon like the one we had today.  Absolutely perfectly clear skies, moderate temperatures up on top of the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking a fog covered coast and the San Francisco Bay.  The conditions were perfect for sighting the new crescent moon.

Sunset was at 8:31 pm PDT and by 8:41 pm I saw the first glimpses of the moon. Incredibly faint, it faded in and out of my sight for a few moments until it became stable.  By 2o minutes in, it was a vivid white streak and an ever increasing colorful sky.

New Crescent Moon of Sha'baan 1433

Sha'baan 1433

This moon marks the beginning of the month of Sha’baan 1433 AH.  It is an important month that precedes Ramadan and is a month of preparation mentally, physically and spiritually.  To all my Muslims readers, Sha’baan Mubarak!

Peace to you All.

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Black & White Spider Awards – Nominee Selection



I just received notice that “Choices”, the photo above, was chosen as a nominee in the 7th annual Black & White Spider Awards.  This is an international competition of black and white photography that is judged by industry’s preeminent names and taste makes.

From among 8,223 entries this year, I entered only ‘Choices’ and it was picked among the 875 nominees in 14 different categories.   Here is what was sent to me:

Dear Youssef,

CONGRATULATIONS on being a Nominee at the 7th Annual Black & White Spider Awards with:


Nominee in Nature | Choices


8,223 entries were received from 72 countries and your work received a high percentage of votes overall. Certainly an achievement, well done!


The Awards Jury represents the industry’s biggest names and tastemakers who reviewed the entries online before making the nomination shortlist and honoring 180 title awards and 875 nominees in 14 categories. The Awards could not have wished for a better group of professionals to work with.


We will be promoting your nomination through our international network and PR campaign.


Congratulations once again on being a Nominee and we wish you a most successful photography year.


Best regards,

Basil O’Brien

Creative Director

If you are interested in seeing what “Choices” was up against the results are at the following link. Black & White Spider Awards.

Just thought I would share.


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The Traveler

On Tuesday June 5, 2012 an event occurred, that in all probability, will not be seen again by any living soul on the planet today, if not for a very few of us.  The planet Venus transited the the sun.  A transit is when a planet passes in between the sun and earth.  It is the same event as an eclipse, however in this case because the planet’s distance from the earth is so great, it cannot block out the entire sun.  Rather, it appears as a black dot on the disk of the sun.

Second Contact of Venus with the Sun

Second Contact

As the transit continues, Venus has five points that are of interest, First Contact, Second Contact, Greatest Transit, Third Contact and Fourth Contact.  The contact points are when an edge of Venus touches the edge of the Sun.  First and second contact occur when Venus enters into the disk of the sun and third and fourth when it is exiting.  Of course the first and fourth contacts are to say the least not very exciting as Venus is outside of the disk and not seen.  Second contact, when Venus is completely in the Sun as shown above, is the first exciting celestial moment.

From there the traveler, which is the meaning of the word planet from ancient Greek, planetai, which literally meant traveling or wandering star, because the planets were “stars” but they continually moved around the sky appearing in the various constellations throughout the year, continued on its way across the face of the sun.  Today of course we know that they are spherical masses of either rock or gas that reflect the light of the sun back to us here on earth and seen in the night time sky.

Venus during the 2012 transit.

The Traveler

The 2012 transit of Venus began at 3:06 pm PDT and continued and was in progress at the time of sunset.  It reached its Greatest Transit point at 6:29 pm PDT, which is the point where Venus is closets to the center of the sun.  From this point onward it will approach the edge of the sun and Third Contact as it leaves the disk.

Venus at the Greatest Transit point

No Return

The ending for us here in California was anti-climatic.  The Sun slowly sank into the cloud laden sky with Venus still well within its disk.  It was an event that I will remember for the rest of my life, an event that comes only once every 105 years and one that I am very fortunate to have been witness to.

Sunset during the Transit of Venus

Nearing The End

I hope you all had a chance to see this in person.  If not, take care of your self as you will need to live another 105 years to see it again.


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2nd Place Awarded

This past weekend my work was awarded 2nd Place in the photography category at the Conejo Valley Art Museum Art Walk.  I don’t put too much behind contests as the results are so dependent on who is judging, however it was nice to gain the recognition.

Second Place Ribbon

2nd Place at Conejo valley Art Walk

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