Last night was the evening my friends and I were permitted on the grounds of Kitt Peak National Observatory for some tripod imaging. The intent was to catch the Milky Way over domes, like I captured on my scouting trip a week ago, but with the quarter moon providing illumination for lighting the foreground. Since we were running into the start of our rainy season, the fallback was to photograph any storms in the area from the vantage point of a 7,000 foot mountain. Well, the monsoons had hit hard, so it was something closer to the later this trip!
Nightly Observing Program that provides a great view to the west. While the boys were taking pics of domes and interesting clouds, I did some of the same, a view of the 1.3 meter and more distant 2.1 meter domes under some rain clouds.
The most interesting part of the assemblage is of Ajo Way, the road that we travel out to get to the Observatory, seen as the nearly vertical streak left center of the above. Here at left is shown a pair of horizontal frames from the Meade, assembled into a vertical image, that can be shown at a larger scale. These are a little longer exposure, 30 seconds, which shows Cat Mountain at upper left, that we drive past as we leave Tucson. About halfway down the frame is Ryan Field, a small airport serving private aviation. At the bottom of the frame is the town of Three-Points, sort of a bedroom community, the major source of lights at the bottom is the Border Patrol Offices there.
And interestingly, captured in the frame is a bit of a hold over from the 4th of July the night before - a lone piece of fireworks set off from the west side of town, perhaps from the Border Patrol grounds themselves, or perhaps the school across the street. A full-resolution image is shown at right...
We had a fun time, enjoyed the cool temperatures, but never had a chance to capture any stars over domes... We did take a walk around the grounds, looking for viewpoints that we might try again as the monsoons wind down in a couple months. I can't wait - always a fun time to be at altitude!
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