Five years ago today, I hiked the Beamer trail in Flatrock, intending to photograph Jupiter and the crescent moon as they adorned the evening sky.

The trail was packed with tough snow, which was quite convenient in a way: the Beamer surface is slanted so usually it’s easy to slip and fall in winter, but not with this hardened snow which provided solid footholds for every snow-crushing step I took.

Sunset from the Beamer – Father Troy’s Trail

I arrived on the Beamer just before sunset, which afforded me an excellent view of the bay on both side of the cliffs. To the west I saw the setting crescent moon, but no Jupiter just yet. In the east, the first stars of the night sparkled from behind the clouds, they were the stars of the Winter Hexagon, six bright stars of different constellations together making up an enormous asterism, filling the sky from the horizon all the way up to Capella straight above me:

The Winter Hexagon at dusk – Father Troy’s Trail

This photo shows the Winter Hexagon just after sunset; Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is still hiding behind the clouds over the horizon. Later that evening all the stars in this huge asterism were easily visible:

Winter Hexagon at night – Father Troy’s Trail

The orange colour on the right side of the frame is the light coming off St. John’s and reflecting on the thin clouds over the Atlantic. For an idea of how immense this asterism really is, have a look at Orion on the right side, you’ve probably seen Orion before and you know that that’s a pretty big constellation all by itself.

When it got darker, Jupiter became visible and offered a gorgeous sight in the evening sky, shining bright just below the crescent moon:

Moon and Jupiter above Flatrock – Father Troy’s Trail

By now, the hours were advancing fast, time is never on my side when I’m on the trail. I had promised to be back by seven to make Marije dinner, but seven had already come and gone. As I walked back to the car I made a few last photos, here’s a shot of the Big Dipper over the Beamer boulders:

Stars above the Beamer – Father Troy’s Trail

Back at the car I had some trouble leaving, as the wheels had gotten quite stuck in the snow. Fortunately, someone passed by at that very moment, walking her dogs. I asked her if she lived near by and if she could spare me her snow shovel to free myself from this unfortunate predicament.

She could and she did, so I shovelled away the snow around my car, and when I was nearly done I even got some help from three guys who had seen the whole thing. They offered to push me out of the snow; a couple of minutes later I was out on the main road again. Thank you very much, friendly people of Flatrock!