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SunZia Project, Weather, Star Parties,
iPhone ISS Nebulae Planets

Posted: 16 September 2022

Tuesday, 6 September 2022, was a mostly clear but busy day that started early with a planning meeting for the "David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Star Party & The Oracle Dark Sky Cultural Festival". See the Arizona State Parks & Trails press release.

That was followed by an all afternoon and evening meeting with the Arizona Line Siting Committee at Biosphere 2 to discuss the SunZia Transmission Line Project that is proposed to pass near Oracle State Park, an ecologically sensitive location and International Dark Sky Park. For several years I have been representing Oracle and Oracle State Park in discussions with the company doing the SunZia Project, government agencies, and local citizens about the Transmission Line Project and its impact on the local area.


I didn't get home until late, and with another long day of activities on Wednesday, 7 September, I didn't open the observatory that night. Wednesday became overcast, and with possible thunderstorms in the coming days due to moisture from Pacific Hurricane (then Tropical System) Kay, I put the Dome Cover ON.

Thursday morning, 8 September, I was on another planning meeting for the event in Oracle (we have had many such meetings over the past several months!). That evening I participated in a meeting with local ecological support individuals and the SunZia Transmission Line Project company.


On Friday, 9 September, the Arizona Line Siting Committee approved the SunZia Transmission Line Project with some important conditions that resulted from local community involvement in the process. In particular, the contractor and the Committee acknowledged the local support for Dark Skies and concerns about visual impacts. The contractor committed to "actively work with the community of Oracle" to mitigate impacts. So, community involvement has made a major difference in what would have otherwise been a less desirable outcome. The contractor has asked me to continue to assist them by advising them on lighting alternatives, which I'm happy to do. The Project now goes before the Arizona Corporation Commission for final approval.

Friday night had a thunderstorm (0.14"). Sunday night, 11 September, had a brief thundershower (0.04"). Before sunrise Monday, 12 September, had another brief shower (0.08"). Received this alert Monday afternoon; not something we get very often in Arizona.


The actual warning area was many miles from Oracle though. A brief rainshower (0.02") did happen. Cloudy skies continued until Thursday, 15 September.

Open: Thursday, 15 September 2022, 1809 MST
Temperature: 79°F
Session: 1788
Conditions: Clear

12" f/8 LX600 w/StarLock
2" 24mm UWA eyepiece
2" 30mm eyepiece
2" 9mm 100° eyepiece

iPhone 13 Pro Max

SYNCed the observatory clock to WWV time signals.

1815 MST: Dome Cover OFF.

1832 MST: Sunset.

1833-1900 MST: Relaxed on the observatory patio bench.

1901 MST: LX600 ON, StarLock OFF, High Precision OFF.

Viewed Saturn, 102X and 81X.

1906-1938 MST: Relaxed on the bench to watch the stars come out. While I was there a bright pass of the International Space Station (ISS) occurred. I took this handheld iPhone 13 Pro Max photograph of the ISS over Cassiopeia Observatory using the Camera app (Night Mode, 10 seconds, 1X lens).


1940 MST: High Precision ON.

Viewed M8 (Lagoon Nebula), 81X.

Attached the LiDAR Cover on the iPhone and mounted the iPhone on the 30mm eyepiece.

1945 MST: StarLock ON.

Took these StarLock autoguided afocal 81X images using NightCap Camera (Long Exposure, Light Boost, ISO 20000 and ISO 25000 respectively, 1sec, 1 minute, 1X lens).

M8 (Lagoon Nebula)

M20 (Trifid Nebula)

This completed my iPhone 13 Pro Max Messier Catalog Astrophotography Album.

2016 MST: StarLock OFF.

Viewed M20 (Trifid Nebula), 81X and 102X. Then viewed NGC6818 (planetary nebula), 102X.

2029 MST: High Precision OFF.

Viewed Saturn, 102X and 271X.

Attached the LiDAR Cover on the iPhone and mounted the iPhone on the 9mm eyepiece. Took these afocal 271X images of Saturn and Jupiter.

Saturn with NightCap Camera app (ISO 2500, 1/125sec, 1X lens)

Saturn with Camera app (slo-mo video, 240fps, 10 seconds, 2500 frames stacked)

Jupiter with NightCap Camera app (ISO 1000, 1/300sec, 1X lens)

Jupiter with Camera app (slo-mo video, 240fps, 10 seconds, 2500 frames stacked)

Viewed Jupiter, 271X and 102X.

2106 MST: LX600 OFF.

2113 MST: Took a Sky Quality reading.

Close: Thursday, 15 September 2022, 2116 MST
Temperature: 72°F
Session Length: 3h 07m
Conditions: Clear, SQM 20.88

The excitement in Oracle is building for the “David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Star Party and Oracle Dark Sky Cultural Festival”, 21-25 September! Flyers and posters have been distributed around the community.

photo photo

Oracle Public Library

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