Jun 10, 2011

Continuing Adventures at PMO

Last Friday night up at the observatory I dubbed 'the big tease'. Stars came out, but there were these high, hazy bands of clouds which obscured viewing and gave the sky close to zero contrast. That meant we couldn't see anything in the telescopes despite being able to see the brightest stars with our eyes. Not even the 24 could overcome the challenge. We did get to see Saturn and I got a glimpse at a setting crescent Moon, but everything else was so faint, the public thought we were making stuff up. Imagination is sometimes required in astronomizing. Clicking on any photo will give you a larger view.

Can still see some remnants of the week before's snow.
Looking west from Millican Valley.

Here's a future badass gangsta cow. Look at that swagger.

Alien? I'm suspicious of that look in this gangsta cow's eyes.

Still a bit of snow in places.

Saturn through the 24" telescope

Saturn through my telescope.

Sliver of the Moon

Saturday started off worse. Cloud cover was thick and unrelenting. It was the complete opposite from the Saturday before, however. It was 60 degrees at the summit, which is very hot for early June. I didn't even need my coat or mittens. I never put on my hat either. That's really unheard of up there this time of year. It made for really comfortable conditions though, so I wouldn't complain if the heat stayed around.

Lots of clouds.

The clouds were so terrible, I didn't bother getting a smaller scope out. Sometimes on crappy nights we get lucky with a glimpse of a planet as they're a lot brighter and sometimes shine through. Well, we weren't getting anything on Saturn, so I took a hike up to the summit to watch the sunset.

Looking toward the Cascades at sunset. This photo and the
others taken at sunset are way more awesome if you
click for the larger view.

I call these yeti houses

Snowcapped Mt. Bachelor

More of the Cascades at sunset

Another peak of Pine Mountain

When I came back down, Cranky Al came up to the 24 for a visit. I talked about how some kid a few years ago asked me why I couldn't make the clouds go away. I had to confess at my lag in education. I've never attended Hogwarts. Oh, I'd be very rich if I could control clouds. For a farce, I flicked my fingers at the sky and said, "Go away." Maybe I've been to Hogwarts in my sleep, for suddenly Saturn could be seen in the telescope. About 30 minutes later, the sky was clear.

I went down and got my telescope out for an hour of almost ideal viewing. Got to see the double star in The Big Dipper, M13, Albireo, Dumb bell Nebula, Ring Nebula, M80, M4 and the Whirlpool Galaxy. Yip, yip. Went in to view M13 then M92 in the 24. We were about to go to the Whirlpool Galaxy, as a supernova remnant was recently discovered in it, when the clouds rolled in with a vengence. :-(

I'd love another good night tonight. But it is June in Central Oregon. The weather is a crap shoot and so is the sky. There'll be moon tonight, too. Will my magic work again? Stay tuned to find out. Have you ever done anything where nature conspired to make it look like you possess magic?