[AZ-Observing] Re: Sentinel Sat. 9-22

  • From: Russell Chmela~ <rchmela@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 09:13:10 -0700

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Well, the sky looked blue, so I went.  On the way, I notice a "cloud" in the 
general direction of Sentinel, and for a second, my heart dropped.  I turned 
out to be some sort of grass fire.  The atmosphere was so steady that this 
thing just sort of hovered there.  Even at 2am Sunday, this cloud was still a 
kind of "dark nebula" sitting in front of the Phx lite dome.
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 A question(s).. since I was only once at Sentinel, about 5 yrs back and
saw next to no light from Phx. that I could recall... is there now a 
significant glow there? Changed much over the past? Is it also part of a
glow from Gila Bend? 
  
 Creature of habit, I was at Vekol as always and the smoke pall stayed
also in front of the Phoenix light and flattened over the course of the
evening and spread some 60 degrees over our northern horizon. While on 
the way down and going through Maricopa, the setting sun was coming 
through this smoke and became red and then a very nice violet for a 
few minutes. On the way back in the early morning I saw cropdusting
airplanes doing fields in darkness and it looked VERY risky. Turns out
they were trying to get in some last minute work before being grounded
by the precautions about chem attacks taken Sunday. Should have waited
a day IMHO, as one almost nailed a small peak near the turn in rt 347.
Big truck wreck in front of the Casino in Maricopa. Only astronomers
should be allowed on the roads/skies after midnight ;-).
  
 Since I have started, might as well make it a full report. It was a 
crowded night at Vekol, with a small traffic jam at the last few minutes
before twilight, but we packed em all in. Scopes of all sizes and folks
of all ages milled about. The moon, for the first few hours, followed
by Saturn and later Jupiter made for the planet fest along with a fast
dwindling Mars crossing the teapot dome this last week. Even had a good
look at Neptune and Uranus in three different instruments. A few cars
left about the time the moon went down (their loss), and a big exodus
between 0100 and 0200, with the last holdouts left to themselves at 
3 am. There were several good deep sky hours and many of the objects 
that Thad was viewing were observed at our group also. Several views
from several scopes of the Helix Nebula and other southern objects like
NGC 55, 253, and more in Sculptor and Cetus. The Helix was like in the
astrophotos in A. D'Agosto's 14" newtonian with the two side cusps and
the extended envelope and some of the inwards pointing streaks all in
a 82x view with a OIII filter. Other objects were M42/3 and the 
Horsehead Neb. (H beta filter) and the last was a view of Comet 
P/Borrelly, just hours after its encounter with the Deep Space 1 space
craft probe, a testbed for ion propulsion and other new technologies.
The Comet was magnitude 10.5 and a soft glow with little condensation
and no observable tail below the twins in Gemini. 
  Weather was shirtsleeves all night, light breeze after 2 am, the road
in was dusty but has been smoothed from its usual washboard.   
  
  A great start to the Autumn observing.
 
 Russ C
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