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Kitt Peak wildfire, Critters,
Finally a Clear Night, Comet C/2017 K2

Posted: 7 July 2022

Thursday, 16 June 2022, dawned clear with smoke visible in the western sky from the Contreras Fire wildfire south of Kitt Peak National Observatory (65 miles to the southwest of Cassiopeia Observatory). The fire was 1.5 miles from the complex Thursday afternoon. The Contreras Fire reached Kitt Peak National Observatory on Friday, 17 June. On Saturday, 18 June, it was reported that "Initial assessment indicates that all the domes and other scientific facilities have been protected from the worst part of the fire to date. Four non-scientific buildings on the west side of the Observatory property, including a dormitory and a residence, were lost in the fire. This video from 18 June showed the situation at Kitt Peak."

Thursday morning, 16 June, I put the Dome Cover photo ON since Monsoon Season thunderstorms were in the forecasts. Clouds arrived mid-day. Broke 100°F at Cassiopeia Observatory at 1544 MST. A young rabbit and three antelope squirrels were staying cool in the shade.


Received 0.29" rain on Saturday, 18 June, most of it during a brief thunderstorm in the afternoon. 1626 MST: Merged photo of two lightning bolts from the afternoon thunderstorm.


This telephoto taken from 65 miles away in Oracle, Arizona, Monday, 20 June, 1824 MST, shows the Contreras Fire wildfire on the north side of Kitt Peak National Observatory.


This is my normal view of Kitt Peak.


The Contreras Fire Monday night, 2204 MST, from Oracle.


By Wednesday, 22 June, no smoke or fire was visible at Kitt Peak as seen from Oracle. Many thanks to all the firefighters! Thursday afternoon, 23 June, had a nice Monsoon thundershower (0.28" rain). The Contreras Fire wildfire at Kitt Peak National Observatory was 100% contained Thursday after burning 29,482 acres. See this NOIRLab page for updates on the status of Kitt Peak National Observatory.

There was a brief rainshower (0.001") Friday afternoon, 24 June. Had some visitors Saturday afternoon, 25 June.


Wednesday morning, 29 June, I went to the observatory and saw this gopher snake by the pathway to the observatory.

Click or tap on image for larger version

Friday afternoon, 1 July, had a brief thundershower (0.10"), then light rain continuing into the evening (total 0.18").

Monday late afternoon, 4 July, there was a bright sundog in the western sky. iPhone 13 Pro Max 3X telephoto lens photo.


Cloudy nights continued until Wednesday, 6 July. It had been three weeks since the last clear night.

Open: Wednesday, 6 July 2022, 1811 MST
Temperature: 86°F
Session: 1781
Conditions: Clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
2" 2X Powermate

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Upon arrival at the observatory I removed the Dome Cover. I then SYNCed the observatory clock.

1827-1859 MST: Relaxed on the observatory patio bench. It was nice to be back at the observatory.


1900 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed the Moon, 102X. Took several handheld iPhone photos, afocal 102X, in case something prevented photographing the Moon when the sky was darker.

Viewed the Moon, 81X. Added the LiDAR Cover and mounted the iPhone 13 Pro Max on the 30mm eyepiece. Took several iPhone photos, afocal 81X, in case something prevented photographing the Moon when the sky was darker.

1915-1945 MST: Relaxed on the bench while waiting for the sky to get darker.

1937 MST: Sunset.

The LX600 experienced a random DEC slew. I tried to stop the slew using the AutoStar but it would not respond. The slew continued until the telescope hit the DEC hard stop. I powered the LX600 OFF. This was the first time that this has happened in the six years I've had the LX600.

1952 MST: Viewed the First Quarter Moon, 12x50 binoculars.

2004 MST: As a result of the random slew and power off, I did a One Star Polar Alignment using the AutoStar.

Viewed the Moon, 81X.

Added the LiDAR Cover and mounted the iPhone 13 Pro Max on the 30mm eyepiece. Took this iPhone photo of the Moon, afocal 81X, using NightCap Camera (ISO 34, 1/850sec, 1X lens).


Added the 2" 2X Powermate and took these iPhone afocal 163X photos of the Moon, using NightCap Camera (ISO 34, 1/640sec, 1X lens).


2026 MST: Wi-Fi ON.

Used SkySafari 7 Pro on the iPhone to GOTO Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS).

2028 MST: No comet was obvious, 81X. The still bright twilight sky probably prevented seeing it.

2029 MST: Wi-Fi OFF.

2030-2048 MST: Relaxed on the bench. Tried, unsuccessfully, to view the comet, 12x50 binoculars.

2050 MST: Viewed Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS), 81X. A nice coma was visible but no tail.

Added the LiDAR Cover and mounted the iPhone 13 Pro Max on the 30mm eyepiece.

2055 MST: StarLock ON.

Took this StarLock autoguided iPhone photo of Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS), afocal 81X, using NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 16000, 1sec, 1 minute, 1X lens).


2105 MST: StarLock OFF.

2110 MST: LX600 OFF.

Close: Wednesday, 6 July 2022, 2121 MST
Temperature: 77°F
Session Length: 3h 10m
Conditions: Clear

I have posted a 3D image of my Edmund Scientific 3" Newtonian Reflector Telescope. Check it out!

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