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Monsoon Storm Shortened Session; Critter

Posted: 31 July 2016

Sunday, 24 July 2016, the sky was partly cloudy. I would have not opened the observatory anyway that night as I had to drive to Phoenix on Monday, 25 July, for a meeting with the Executive Director, Arizona State Parks, and the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), to discuss dark sky activities in the state. Cloudy skies continued, causing several good passes of the International Space Station (ISS) to be missed. Friday, 29 July, a good Monsoon thunderstorm come through; gave us 0.88" of rain in the late afternoon. This photo shows portions of a double rainbow seen as we drove home on AZ-77 (just north of Oracle Junction) late in the afternoon:


Even though conditions were not ideal on Saturday, 30 July, especially with a severe Monsoon thunderstorm to the southeast, topping 60,000 feet and moving westward, I decided to go to the observatory.

Open: Saturday, 30 July 2016, 1834 MST
Temperature: 99°F
Session: 1003
Conditions: Partly cloudy

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
Wired AutoStar II handset
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece

iPhone 6s Plus
D7200 DSLR

After opening the observatory I SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV.

The storm to the southeast was changing rapidly with its clouds quickly getting higher in the sky.

1836 MST: took this iPhone photo of the storm to the southeast:


1857 MST: I saw a deer on the road southwest of the observatory and just outside the fence. Managed to get a photo using the D7200 DSLR with 300mm lens:


I had planned to do some astrophotography with the 300mm lens this night so I was glad I had that lens for the deer photo.

1902 MST: took this iPhone panoramic photo from the northeast (left) to southwest (right) showing the storm clouds:

Click or tap on image for larger version

1903 MST: I was now hearing thunder from the storm to the southeast.

1919 MST: with sunset approaching the storms were looking pretty, as seen in this iPhone panoramic photo from the north (left, with the observatory) to southwest (right):

Click or tap on image for larger version

1921 MST: as the sun began setting the severe Monsoon storm over Tucson to the south was very impressive:


The thunder was becoming more frequent.

1926 MST: sunset. The sky was now very cloudy and it was obvious that I would not be able to do the necessary steps this night to finish setting up the new 12" LX600 telescope (Polar Drift Alignment, RA PEC training), nor would I be able to do my DSLR astrophotography. But I decided to try to observe Mercury and Venus, low in the western sky where there were some clear spots.

1930 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF. Viewed Mercury, 102X and 271X. View not good but the small planet was bright in the telescope. I then tried for Venus, which was even lower in the sky. I was not able to view it due to clouds and a tree. 1934 MST: viewed Jupiter, 102X and 271X. The four Galilean Moons were visible, as were some cloud bands in the planet's atmosphere. 1937 MST: tried again for Venus and got it this time, 102X. Not a very good view due to its low altitude in the sky, the clouds, and the tree.

With the sky now mostly covered by clouds, and with lots of lightning and thunder from the storm to the south, I began closing up for the night.

Close: Saturday, 30 July 2016, 1949 MST
Temperature: 85°F
Session Length: 1h 15m
Conditions: Mostly cloudy

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