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Short Session: Critter, Mars, Setting Sun

Posted: 15 May 2014

On my way to the observatory saw this bunny:



Opened: Wednesday, 14 May 2014, 1826 MST
Temperature: 83°F
Session: 685
Conditions: Clouds, dust, or smoke in sky

When I prepared to go to the observatory, the sky had looked clear. But after opening the dome, with the sun lower in the sky and shining upward, I saw that much of the sky had thin clouds, dust (the day had been very windy), or perhaps even smoke (from the southern California fires). I decided to do some observing anyway.

1836 MST: Mercury, 83X and 222X. Half phase seen. No imaging though due to clouds/dust/smoke.

1839 MST: Jupiter, 222X, seen through thin clouds (or something).

1845 MST: Mars, 222X, which was in a clear portion of the sky. Mars looked very nice against the bright blue sky. The North Polar Cap, a sunset cloud near the equator, and possibly a sunrise cloud about latitude 60° N were visible. I decided to image Mars before the clouds (etc) arrived at Mars. Set up for iPhone 5s afocal, 666X, imaging. Added one of the Variable Polarizing Filters. By the time I was ready, the clouds (etc) had arrived at Mars, so the results were not very good. This is a stack of 5313 frames from a slo-mo video (120 fps) taken at 1858 MST:


After finishing with Mars, I took this iPhone photo showing a thicker portion of the clouds (dust, smoke) in the southern sky:


1907 MST: resumed Mars observing, 222X + filter. There was definitely a sunset cloud visible near the equator. A dark area was visible just south of the North Polar Cap. Sunrise cloud at 60° N was still visible.

As sunset approached (at Cassiopeia Observatory), more clouds (dust, smoke) became visible in my sky. Took this photo of the setting sun using the D7000 DSLR, f/5.6, 1/2500sec, ISO 400, 105mm:


1919 MST: sunset. Took a final look at Mars, 222X and 83X. Began closing up due to the clouds (etc).

Closed: Wednesday, 14 May 2014, 1930 MST
Temperature: 72°F

After closing the observatory, I took some nighttime photos of a couple of local businesses. The Oracle Dark Skies Committee hopes to convince the owners to improve their outdoor lighting to support the Oracle State Park "International Dark Sky Park" Nomination.

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