Short Planets Observing Session
Posted: 12 July 2017
Thursday, 6 July 2017, began with clear skies but clouds and smoke returned to Cassiopeia Observatory in the afternoon. That evening a thunderstorm passed by in the North. One of my webcams captured this lightning photo:
As the Sun rose on Friday morning, 7 July, smoke from the Burro Fire near Mt Lemmon (southeast of Cassiopeia Observatory) was visible in the western sky:
On Friday, our Satellite Internet access capability was "upgraded". Unfortunately, shortly after the installer left, the new modem began failing. The Internet connection was flakey and none of the webcams nor weather station could be connected. Grumble. A replacement modem was shipped.
Also on Friday, a new wildfire started near the Frye Fire (near Mt Graham Observatory). Egads. This new fire is called the Crack Tank Fire. Clouds returned mid-day on Friday, with some rainshowers in the area as sunset approached. Friday evening, lightning from a storm likely caused the Roach Fire in Dudleyville (only 25 miles north of Oracle). The fire was 200 acres Friday night but grew to 1200 acres overnight.
Saturday, 8 July, dawned clear (some smoke visible), but clouds began appearing late morning. Saturday night I supported the Full Moon Night Hike at Oracle State Park with my ETX-125 Observer telescope.
Sunday, 9 July, was cloudy with Monsoon thunderstorms in the area late in the afternoon. Received 0.01" rain. But the exciting thing was a Haboob (dust storm) seen near Casa Grande (~40 miles to the west) about sunset from our living room window in Oracle!
Monday, 10 July, was mostly cloudy. Early in the afternoon I used my Lunt Solar Systems SUNoculars 8x32 to view the Sun and Sunspot AR2665 through a hole in the clouds. The timing was good practice as the Sun will be about the same height in the sky during the 21 August Total Solar Eclipse from my planned observing location.
Tuesday, 11 July, continued with mostly cloudy skies. Had some brief rain (0.04") from a Monsoon thunderstorm overnight. Installed the replacement Satellite Internet modem. Had the same problem as with the first one. Turned out that the first modem may not have been bad even though the provider said it was; my webcams killed the replacement modem too. Will do some more troubleshooting on the webcams in the coming days; in the meantime everything but the webcams are online.
As evening approached on Tuesday the sky did some partial clearing. Decided to go to the observatory for a brief session.
Open: Tuesday, 11 July 2017, 1907 MST
Conditions: Partly cloudy
12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 8-24mm zoom eyepiece
iPhone 6s Plus
This was a planned short session due to the cloudy skies.
1913 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.
1915 MST: viewed Jupiter, 102X. The view was surprisingly good, even through thin clouds. Having the air conditioner running during the day has really helped eliminate the telescope cool-down time. Two of Jupiter's moons were visible: Ganymede and Europa.
Switched to the Baader 8-24mm zoom eyepiece. The views were good at all magnifications. The best view was at 152X (16mm). 1929 MST: the moon Callisto was now visible.
1932 MST: stepped outside of the observatory and took this iPhone 6s Plus panorama photo showing the sky from southeast-southwest-northwest and the observatory:
Click or tap on image for larger version
1935 MST: sunset.
1939 MST: last look at Jupiter, 102X, as it was dimming due to clouds.
1940 MST: viewed Saturn, low in the southeast sky, 102X. Saturn and its ring were faintly visible through the clouds. Decided to close due to the increasing cloud cover.
1944 MST: LX600 OFF.
Close: Tuesday, 11 July 2017, 1952 MST
Session Length: 0h 45m|
Conditions: Mostly cloudy
I have posted a review of the book "How to Photograph the Total Solar Eclipse". If you are planning to view and photograph the Total Solar Eclipse next month, you will want to read the review.
I came across this helpful photography article: "How To Choose The Right White Balance For Night Skies". Check it out.
And see the Catching the Light blog by Jerry Lodriguss for frequent astrophotography tips and techniques.
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