The weather forecasts for 28-30 November were good. The skies were to clear about 1600 MST and stay clear through the weekend, so I decided to go. This visit to Oracle Observatory was to continue work with my new Meade LX200-ACF telescope and to further test some accessories.
I arrived at 1220 MST to overcast skies:
The temperature was 50°F. The sky was brighter in the west but there were occasional sprinkles of rain. I decided to delay setting up the tent and telescope to see if the weather would improve (per the forecasts). Finally at about 1400 I started putting up the tent. At 1500 MST it was still mostly cloudy with a light rain shower to the northwest. The rain arrived at Oracle Observatory at 1530. I was glad I had decided to put the "rain fly" on the tent!
I stayed inside the tent during the rain and managed to get a photo of this "cottontail" bunny rabbit:
At 1541, I took this photo of a rainbow over my tent:
At 1610 MST it was still overcast with no indications of clearing skies any time soon. It was 57°F inside the tent. As sunset approached at 1715 the western sky looked like this:
Sunset had some color:
At 1725 MST it was still cloudy with some rain showers to the southwest and northwest. I decided to get into the sleeping bag inside the tent (where it was 48°F) and listen to some science fiction old time radio shows on my iPod. I did a weather check at 1830 MST and it was still overcast. It sprinkled rain at 1840. So much for those forecasts! I did another weather check at 2030 MST; there were some holes in the cloud cover and I could see some constellations. But the clouds were moving quickly and so what I could see was covered up in a few minutes. There didn't seem to be much reason to unpack and set up the telescope.
When I woke up on Saturday, 29 November, at 0630 MST, it was 40°F inside the tent. And it was clear outside! However, the dew was very heavy; the tent (outside surface) was soaked. I was glad I had left the telescope and accessories inside the car overnight.
At 1050 MST, outside temperature 54°F, I did some solar observing with the PST. There was one nice prominence visible. I switched from the 12.5mm eyepiece to a 9.7mm eyepiece and could see two smaller prominences as well.
At 1110 MST, a slight breeze had come up but the sky was still clear and the temperature was up to 53°F. I did a walkaround from 1130-1200 MST and took several photographs:
At 1320 MST, temperature 54°F, with some cumulus clouds low in the west and a slight breeze, I decided to set up the telescope.
After I finished setting up the telescope I took some more wildlife photos:
As sunset approached I took this photo of the sun behind a yucca plant:
About 20 minutes after sunset, with the temperature down to 42°F, the skies were still clear. In the southwest, a two-day-old crescent moon was visible. This photo was taken using a 300mm telephoto lens on my Nikon D70 DSLR.
Here you can see Venus (the bright object near the top), Jupiter (above Venus), and the crescent moon:
At 1810 MST, 40°F, I noticed that the dew was getting heavy again (just like last night). And I didn't bring my 8" dewshield with me! I had done some quick observing of the moon, Venus, and Jupiter, and for about an hour the objective lens had stayed clear. But by 1845 MST the lens was completely dew-ed over and everything else was very moist. I covered up the telescope and packed up all the accessories. So much for any observing and astrophotography tonight. I retired back to the tent and listened to more science fiction radio shows on my iPod.
I woke up at 0630 MST and at 0700, I took this photo of the western sky showing the earth's shadow and the "Belt of Venus" (the pinkish area above the shadow).
I packed up and left Oracle Observatory at 0800 MST.
Return to the Oracle Observatory Main Page.