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Snow to begin 2015; Moon and Clouds

Posted: 2 January 2015

As had been forecast, snow began at Cassiopeia Observatory on Wednesday afternoon, 31 December 2014. Woke up on New Year's Day to a measured 4.75":


Here's a panorama taken from outside the house as the sun was rising on New Year's Day 2015 showing the view to the south, west, and to the north-northeast:

Click or tap on image for larger version

And this is a view towards the observatory, barely seen covered in snow at the center of the photograph:


The forecast was for the clouds to be gone by Thursday evening, 1 January. The snow did not melt much during the day as the temperature stayed mostly in the upper 30s, so I expected I would have to clean off the dome. Mid-afternoon I went to the observatory, but didn't have to do much snow removal since most had slid off the dome:


There was still 3-4" of snow on the ground however. And shortly after I returned from the observatory, the forecast was updated. No more clear skies for the night. I had been watching the weather satellite images all day and I had my doubts that it would be clear Thursday night, but the sky did somewhat clear up. I decided to open the observatory.

Open: Thursday, 1 January 2015, 1820 MST
Temperature: 36°F
Session: 762
Conditions: Partly cloudy

After powering up the 8" LX200-ACF telescope I had to swap the rechargeable batteries in the Wireless AutoStar II handcontroller. They were too weak to view the AutoStar screen. I had replaced the batteries a few nights ago but apparently the recent low temperatures reduced the effectiveness. Freshly charged batteries (that had been in the house) performed well.

1831 MST: viewed the bright waxing gibbous moon, 83X. Seeing was not very good. I looked up at the moon in the sky and saw that there were clouds crossing the moon. And in fact, cloud cover was increasing already. This handheld D7000 DSLR photo, taken from inside the observatory, f/3.5, 1/5sec, ISO 4000, 18mm, shows the moon at the top, along with some colorful partial rings around the moon (which were real and not a digital artifact). Orion can be seen rising behind the tree on the right. Snow (with my footprints) is visible on the ground.


This is the moon, iPhone 5s, 8" telescope, afocal 83X, handheld:


The sky was quickly becoming overcast, so I decided to close up for the night without finishing the hot chocolate I had brought to the observatory. A short session for the first night of 2015.

Close: Thursday, 1 January 2015, 1904 MST
Temperature: 29°F

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