[AZ-Observing] best seeing sites and times

  • From: "Steve Coe" <stevecoe@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 13 Mar 2004 11:40:40 -0700

Hi William, et al;

It is interesting that we get so few evenings of really great seeing and
yet, those stand out as some truly memorable nights.  As Tom mentioned the
seeing is generally about 2 arcseconds down on the desert floor.  So the SAC
sites:  Flatiron, Sentinel, our old sites: Table Mesa and Buckeye all
usually provided seeing around that value.  Of course they were often much
worse.  But, every once in a while, they steadied down and got superb for a
couple of hours; everyone observing for that time got to see just how good
their telescope could perform at high power and how much detail they could
see when things were good.

Because my backyard observatory gets more use, I have been fortunate enough
to have several evenings of good seeing there, also.  I can always tell when
powers above 250X are actually useful, then the seeing is good.  This is
generally during twilight, as I recently reported and it generally lasts 15
to 20 minutes.

Several of the best times of steady seeing have been when there was a thin
cloud deck.  We set up the scopes under pretty clear skies and some cirrus
clouds came in and some bullheaded soul kept observing....then he called
over to us to say "hey, get on Jupiter, it is really GREAT!".

Many of the times that I have had both good seeing and good transparency
have been after midnight.  The seeing has had time to steady down and the
transparency is still clear.  Again, those are superb and memorable nights.
It feels like the Milky Way is just past your finger tips.

Hoping for more of that;
Steve Coe

Author "Deep Sky Observing--The Astronomical Tourist"
Saguaro Astronomy Club website

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