Weather Update, Mars in Scorpius, DSO Observing
Posted: 23 September 2014
Pacific Hurricane Odile began affecting weather in southern Arizona on Monday, 15 September, by bringing in cloudy skies, with heavy rain storms in the forecast. Unfortunately, my weather station anemometer has failed, but I still have rain, temperature, and humidity data available on my webcam page. Pre-storm sunset was gorgeous Monday evening:
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Rain began on Tuesday, 16 September, as what was left of then Tropical Storm moved towards Arizona. Got only 0.13" that day, with another 0.15" overnight. During a break in the rain Wednesday afternoon, after a total rain of nearly 0.5" inch, I went to the observatory to check on things. No leaks, but then none were expected. The tropical depression from what had been Hurricane Odile took almost a 90° turn to the east as it entered Arizona, rather than following the northward track that had been originally forecast. The forecast rain totals of 5-6" did not materialize here.
I represented the Oracle Dark Skies Committee at a cloud-hampered star party at Kartchner Caverns State Park, Saturday, 20 September 2014, 1400-2200 MST. My short report is on the ODSC "Past Events" page.
The sky finally mostly cleared again on Monday, 22 September.
Opened: Monday, 22 September 2014, 1814 MST
Conditions: Mostly clear
1823 MST: sunset, 1 hour 6 minutes before Autumnal Equinox.
1825 MST: viewed Saturn, 83X and 222X, low in the southwest. Even though low in the sky, Cassini Division, shadows, and one cloud band were visible using 222X. At 1837 MST, Saturn became intermittently visible to the naked eye. At 1840 MST, Mars was visible to the naked eye. At 222X with the 8" LX200-ACF, Mars showed a gibbous phase, but no details were visible.
1850 MST: did some iPhone 5s (iOS 8) software testing. Reported results to the developers.
1926 MST: more clouds coming in from the south. At 1930 MST, I took this handheld D7000 DSLR photo (f/5, 1 second, ISO 3200) of the constellation of Scorpius showing Mars near the star Antares:
Mouseover or tap to see labels
1937 MST: began doing some Deep Sky Object (DSO) observing at 83X. First was M17 (Swan Nebula). The view was good, but somewhat disappointing compared to the view of M17 I had at Kartchner Caverns State Park through a 24" f/5 Newtonian.
1944 MST: viewed NGC404 (Mirach's Ghost Galaxy). By 2000 MST, lightning from a storm to the northeast was frequently lighting up the sky.
2010 MST: began an AutoStar tour of DSOs in some constellations. Lacerta: NGC7209 (open cluster) and NGC7243 (open cluster). Pegasus: M15 (globular cluster), NGC7331 (galaxy), NGC7479 (galaxy) and NGC7814 (galaxy). Andromeda: M110 (galaxy), M32 (galaxy), M31 (Andromeda Galaxy), NGC752 (open cluster), NGC891 (galaxy), NGC7662 (Blue Snowball, planetary nebula). Ended the tours at 2046 MST.
Viewed M33 (Triangulum Galaxy). It was still low in the eastern sky but was a good view.
2100 MST: did some sky quality measurements using a Unihedron SQM-L meter and the iOS app Dark Sky Meter. Even with some clouds in the sky reflecting lights from Tucson, the SQM-L reading was 20.72.
2115 MST: viewed M30 (globular cluster), 83X. Then began closing. It was super being back in the observatory after the recent cloudy nights.
Closed: Monday, 22 September 2014, 2130 MST
I have completed my comparison of the image processing applications Nebulosity and PixInsight. It is a lengthy discussion of learning to use the applications and what went wrong and what went right. If you want to know more about these astrophotography applications, see my "Comparison: Nebulosity vs PixInsight".
I recently made the Nav Bar fixed at the top of the Cassiopeia Observatory web pages. While that is nice for onscreen use in a web browser, it unfortunately broke printing of the web pages. I've Googled for solutions but none of the solutions I found made printing functional again. If you are a CSS expert (I'm not) and would like to help me track down the problem and get printing working again, drop me a note. Thanks.
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