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Smokey Skies & HOT temps; Short Cloudy Sky Session

Posted: 21 June 2017

Recently whenever I would connect the Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Timer Remote to my Nikon D7200 DSLR the camera would begin doing weird things, like taking photos on its own or preventing using any of the selection buttons (preview, menu, white balance, ISO, etc). This had been causing some major issues when doing DSLR astrophotography. On Saturday, 17 June 2017, I did some troubleshooting and found that the ShutterBoss remote cable I had been using for the past 5 years was the culprit. Fortunately I have a replacement cable that had never been used and the new cable seems to have eliminated the camera problems. Whew.

There have been several wildfires burning in southern Arizona. Smoke from the Frye Fire on Mt Graham (very close to Mt Graham Observatory and the Large Binocular Telescope!) about 75 miles east of Oracle was visible in much of the sky on Saturday:

Click or tap on image for larger version

By late Saturday afternoon the sky was essentially overcast from the smoke! The setting Sun was interesting:


The small sunspot AR 2662 is barely visible above center of the Sun in the photo taken with the D7200 DSLR + 600mm lens.

Sunday, 18 June, was basically overcast from the smoke. This fisheye lens photo from late in the afternoon shows how the sky looked. North is at the top.

Click or tap on image for larger version

Monday, 19 June, the sky was a lot less smokey, but clouds came in. And it was unusually HOT here in Oracle:


Even a bunny was trying to stay cool stretched out in the shade:


Went out to the observatory and measured temperatures. The sun-facing dome surface (outside) was 168°F! The dome surface inside (insulated side) was 20 degrees cooler, but that is still pretty hot. The average air temperature inside the POD was about 130°F. That is about 10 degrees hotter than it has ever been. As these hot days, even here at 4350 feet elevation, are becoming the norm, I will be installing an air conditioner soon to replace the 7" fan and duct thermostat currently used inside the observatory.

As sunset approached on Monday this rainbow appeared:


Tuesday, 20 June, was cloudy. That morning I went to the observatory to do some air conditioner unit location measurements. Two bookshelves inside the observatory will have to be rearranged to make room for the unit. It will also be necessary to make a large hole in a bay for the hot air duct. I then went to a nearby Best Buy and purchased a small air conditioner. I will post a report on installation and use soon.

Wednesday, 21 June, started out mostly clear, but by late morning our Monsoon Season made it known that it is back:


By late afternoon it was partly cloudy and smokey again. The temperature reached 111°F in Oracle! Even though the sky was mostly cloudy as sunset approached I decided to go to the observatory anyway for a short session.

Open: Wednesday, 21 June 2017, 18:30 MST
Temperature: 117°F
Session: 1126
Conditions: Mostly cloudy, breezy

Equipment Used:
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece

iPhone 6s Plus

After opening the observatory I did some preparatory work to get ready to install the air conditioner, hopefully on Thursday.

1852 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Tried to view Jupiter but it was hidden by clouds:


1857 MST: Wi-Fi ON. Did some tests of the iOS app ScopeBoss for the developer. 1919 MST: tested ended. Wi-Fi OFF.

I then noticed this interesting bug, probably a spider, in the observatory:


Maybe like the bunny seen above, the bug was stretching out due to the heat!

1921 MST: was finally able to view Jupiter through some thin cloud, 102X. 1925 MST: a couple of Jovian moons were occasionally faintly visible.

1930 MST: LX600 OFF.

As I was preparing to close up the observatory I noticed the eyepiece holder on the star diagonal had come slightly loose again. This last happened in March 2017. I will tighten the screws again before the next observing session.

Took this iPhone photo of the setting, smoke reddened, Sun:


1938 MST: sunset.

Close: Wednesday, 21 June 2017, 1945 MST
Temperature: 98°F
Session Length: 1h 15m
Conditions: Mostly cloudy

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