Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Arizona After Dark (Part 2)

After Friday night's adventure on Kitt Peak, Saturday we were to head down to the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association's new dark-sky site, the Chiricahua Astronomy Complex (CAC). Developments have moved very rapidly the last 18 months as the land was bought, donated to the club, and an initial development that includes bathrooms, showers, and parking for about 30.

It was our first trip to the location since development had begun, though it had been open to several star parties through the spring. On Saturday, we were a bit hesitant since there were abundant high clouds, but thought we'd enjoy the road trip and check it out.

We arrived just after sundown and had to jockey for a parking spot - about 20 cars and over 30 people, I'd estimate. We jumped to setting up the 14" Celestron, and our astro-buddy Christian rolled up and set up next to us. John Kalas offered a tour of his personal observing site, about 200 yards away. It was quite impressive - framing started yesterday on his roll-off observatory with 4 piers and living quarters.

We did a little visual observing and also took some fisheye pictures of the sky. Of course, the thin high clouds made the light domes from nearby cities look much worse than on a clear night. But we were able to do some observing through the clear zones. The first picture taken to the south with the 8mm fisheye (and using Christian and his 16" to block the neighbor's light) shows Douglas due south, the setting 4 day old moon to the west, and Jupiter brilliant in the east. The Milky Way blazes through the cloud cover. All exposures are 60 seconds with the 8mm fisheye @ F/2.8, ISO 1600.

Similarly, I also took a shot to the north. Again, scattered clouds block some parts of the sky, but the Big Dipper, hugging the horizon and Polaris are in the clear. There are some small light domes I've not identified. Willcox is off the Dipper's handle. Just east of north must be the Fort Bowie National Historic Site. The glow between them is as yet unidentified...

It is going to be a great site - even now with the goodie tray that John Kalas set up in the water heater room was a great place to congregate while on bathroom breaks or to wait out the clouds. It is a longish drive, but once we've got sleeping quarters and some big scopes there, it will be a Mecca for astronomers!

1 comment:

Astroweis said...

I knew, that I would be at least of some use ;-)