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Birds; Crescent Moon

Posted: 21 February 2018

Clouds settled in (along with strong winds) on Monday, 12 February 2018. Had rain on Wednesday, 14 February (0.54"), Thursday, 15 February (1.68"), and Friday, 16 February (0.32"). While our total rain was good, Mt Lemmon (11 miles away) received over 8" of rain from the system!

Wednesday morning while driving on highway AZ-77 past Mt Lemmon we saw a C-130 circling low, crossing over the highway a couple of times. Here is an iPhone 2X telephoto of the C-130 with Mt Lemmon in the background:


Thursday, late on the gray drizzly day, this hawk came to visit. He doesn't look too happy being all wet!

Click or tap on image for larger version

Saturday, 17 February, I attended a Live Music and Star Party event at Oracle State Park. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate for the star party portion. A report is posted on the Oracle Dark Skies Committee web site.

Sunday morning, 18 February, I did a some minor maintenance on three of the new pathway lights; added some duct tape to more securely hold the red tape. Also did a minor cleanup (vacuuming) inside the observatory. Had some brief light rain Sunday evening (0.03"). Monday, 19 February, was mostly cloudy with strong winds. Received another 0.15" rain overnight.

Tuesday, 20 February, began with cloudy skies (and some frost). However, the sky began to clear mid-day, and with a forecast of a clear sky after sunset, I confirmed a visit to the observatory by more 4th grade students from Mountain Vista School in Oracle.

On my way to the observatory I saw two hawks in a distant tree. I didn't have a long telephoto lens on the camera so couldn't get a good photo. This is an extreme crop of a photo taken with the D850 DSLR and 70mm lens:


Open: Tuesday, 20 February 2018, 1711 MST
Temperature: 62°F
Session: 1202
Conditions: Mostly clear

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


First, I set up two chairs and a table on the observatory patio for use by the students and their parents who were expected to begin arriving about an hour later.

1725 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

1729 MST: viewed the crescent Moon, 102X.

Then began waiting for the students to arrive.

1815 MST: the 4th grade STEM teacher arrived. We chatted for awhile. She brought one of the school's Meade EclipseView 114 telescopes, which I set up on the observatory patio. We saw the planet Venus low in the west.

1900 MST: we decided that the students (actually, their parents most likely) cancelled out due to the low temperatures (it was down to 40° at this point). Packed up the EclipseView telescope. 1913 MST: the teacher left.

I viewed the crescent Moon, 102X.

I packed up the chairs and table.

Then prepared the D850 DSLR for imaging. Mounted it on the 12" telescope at prime focus + focal reducer.

1944 MST: took this photo, 1/400sec, ISO 400, White Balance Auto:


1951 MST: removed the camera and did some more lunar observing, 102X. Seeing was not very good.

Viewed M42 (Great Nebula in Orion), 102X. That was followed by quick looks at the galaxies M95 and M96, 102X. They were low in the east. They will be my next iPhone Messier Catalog targets, but I will likely wait until after the next Full Moon before imaging them.

Began closing up.

1958 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Tuesday, 20 February 2018, 2006 MST
Temperature: 42°F
Session Length: 2h 55m
Conditions: Clear

Here's a report on my visit to Oracle Observatory from 10 years ago this month: 6-7 February 2008.

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