Friday, January 30, 2015

Observatory Lake!

Today the Arizona Desert got some rain! In fact, we've set a record for 30 January rainfall, since over an inch has fallen and the record was about .75"... Don't forget the annual average rainfall is about 12", so for one day, that is a lot - the most rain we've gotten in nearly a half year - since back in mid-September.

Which brings me to my topic du jour. When I got home from work and errands, there was a lake surrounding the new backyard observatory! The image at left shows what it looked like, and likely still does at 2030. I've noticed in heavy rains we do tend to accumulate some standing water, one reason we put the pad above grade, and it is gratifying there is still some distance to go before the building floods. While the structural trim isn't finished, the rain has been coming straight down and I have no reservations that it isn't snug and dry inside - I haven't waded out to check. Eventually, some 24"X24"X4" concrete pavers that buddy Frank helped me pour will be used to make a path and I won't have to worry about getting my feet wet, not that I would usually be observing in weather like this!

Big Bear Solar Observatory, courtesy NJIT
Of course, the lake reminds me of another observatory - the Big Bear Solar Observatory in Big Bear, California, where a major solar observatory, now operated by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is located on a lake on purpose. During daytime observations the body of water surrounding it helps keep the air isothermal - at a single temperature, to minimize seeing effects or heat of the sun coming off the ground. If course, I could make the same argument for my "lake", but would only be kidding. Or I could make a joke about keeping a moat stocked with alligators to keep the kitties out. Eventually, I suspect I'll need to use some gravel fill to make sure the pad doesn't get undermined, but will worry about that after the building gets finished. As for the rain - as a desert rat, I say "keep it coming!"

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