Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

California - Fires

  • Please log in to reply
213 replies to this topic

#1 rexowner

rexowner

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 245
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2017
  • Loc: SF Bay Area, California

Posted 23 August 2020 - 10:03 PM

As I write this, I can taste smoke in the air.  I am in the SF Bay area, mid peninsula

Palo Alto area.

 

Our club's site in the Santa Cruz mountains was shut down due to fire warnings.

 

I am largely staying inside so I can breathe filtered air.

 

The local health authorities two days ago said that spending the day outside was equivalent

to smoking a pack of cigarettes.

 

It's actually varied a lot over the last few days -- I actually took a telescope out last night, but

I am keeping all optics covered at this point.

 

Any other experiences or recommendations?


  • Goldengirl52 likes this

#2 John Carlini

John Carlini

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 423
  • Joined: 10 Sep 2018
  • Loc: Northern Wyoming

Posted 23 August 2020 - 10:30 PM

The California smoke has reached northern Wyoming. It's pretty much put a damper on all observing and we're hoping some rain may clear out some of the haze. We've seen this before with fires in the nearby Yellowstone park or parts of Montana. One year, we had fires along the western mountain ridge within 20 miles of the house. The smoke jumpers were camped out in our community rec center. During that time, I kept all the equipment stored to keep any potential smoke soot from reaching optics. The air was thick and flames were spectacular in the evening.


  • rexowner and kksmith like this

#3 Redbetter

Redbetter

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,779
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2016
  • Loc: Central Valley, CA

Posted 23 August 2020 - 10:55 PM

I've been back in the valley since Thursday and the Sun has been mostly blotted out.  At night Vega has been the only star visible.  Jupiter was visible last night, but is missing tonight.  Saturn hasn't been visible for a few nights.  There is apparently some cloud mixed in above the smoke, I was able to glimpse of a portion of the Moon for a brief time when I did my check tonight.

 

I had hoped to observe some of the transit activity on Jupiter two nights ago with the 127 Mak, but it was dimmed about 5 magnitudes and only basic features were visible. 

 

The smoke has been moderately bad here so far.  I have done short vigorous runs rather than long ones.  At least the fires aren't close to us, so we're not getting ash as with some other fires.  And the ever present smoke has dropped temps.  It was 120 F when I crossed back into California on Thursday, combined with a strong wind it was like a convection oven when fueling.


  • rexowner likes this

#4 awong101

awong101

    Messenger

  • ****-
  • Posts: 420
  • Joined: 26 Jul 2020

Posted 23 August 2020 - 11:50 PM

Same boat here guys, and I am in San Francisco. Over the weekend, the twilight skies kept teasing me with clear skies. By the time I polar align, balance my rig, and find my target, the clouds would roll in by 10pm despite ClearOutside app forecasting a clear night.

 

So I'd leave my rig outside to let the clouds pass. Come back a hour later, and there'll be ash on my gear. That's when I knew I can't shoot even if the skies clear up because I don't want ash on my objectives.

 

And I'm a beginner, so I'm anxious to be out there every night!


  • rexowner likes this

#5 Cali

Cali

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,924
  • Joined: 21 Aug 2018
  • Loc: Bay Area

Posted 24 August 2020 - 02:31 AM

I belong to the Tri-Valley Stargazers astronomy club in Livermore. We have an observing site near Lick Observatory.  Lick survived the fire, our site apparently did not.

 

- Cal

 

News as of 8/23/20

 

Unfortunately, our main observatory building was destroyed in the fire.
The dome and the outhouses are still standing.  At this time we do not
know if any equipment can be salvaged from the main building or the
state of the equipment inside the dome.

 

Once we are able to return to the property ourselves, we will assess the
full damage.  Our first priority will then be to make the grounds usable
again for observing visits.  I'll pass on more information as I get it.
This is a big loss for the club.  But the smoke will clear, the stars
will return, and we can rebuild.


  • CollinofAlabama, Thomas Marshall and CeeKay like this

#6 dhferguson

dhferguson

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 203
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2018
  • Loc: Western US

Posted 24 August 2020 - 03:05 AM

Greetings ...

 

... to the local Tri-Valley Star Gazers. I was once a member (I live in P-town) and am saddened to hear about your club's loss.

 

Like some of the rest of you I've parked my telescopes and've been spending evenings inside to avoid breathing unfiltered smoke. The fire is probably about 12 miles away (it is roughly 500 sq miles in extent right now, which is HUGE) and I hate it when the wind blows from the SE-SW, filling the Tri-Valley area with smoke, which it is doing now. 

 

I have the sense the firefighters are stretched really thin and are trying to protect various structures more than anything else. I'm sure the fire will burn itself out in a few more days, they always do. On the plus side, most of the poison oak and scrub should now be gone, great for hiking.

 

Happy observing always,

 

Don



#7 awong101

awong101

    Messenger

  • ****-
  • Posts: 420
  • Joined: 26 Jul 2020

Posted 24 August 2020 - 11:06 AM

I just want to say that despite how inconvenient the fire has been for our hobby, it's nothing compared to the people who's lives have been negatively impacted by the fire. I just want to say best of luck to those in the region, and those whose lives have been changed by the fires.


  • csa/montana, George N, dswtan and 3 others like this

#8 gwlee

gwlee

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,330
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2015
  • Loc: 38N 120W

Posted 24 August 2020 - 01:40 PM

As I write this, I can taste smoke in the air.  I am in the SF Bay area, mid peninsula

Palo Alto area.

 

Our club's site in the Santa Cruz mountains was shut down due to fire warnings.

 

I am largely staying inside so I can breathe filtered air.

 

The local health authorities two days ago said that spending the day outside was equivalent

to smoking a pack of cigarettes.

 

It's actually varied a lot over the last few days -- I actually took a telescope out last night, but

I am keeping all optics covered at this point.

 

Any other experiences or recommendations?

I am a former PASTRO member living nearer to Yosemite NP these days. Haven’t seen much here other than heavy wildfire smoke for the last 10 days or so, except for a beautiful dry lightning storm last night that started a few more fires. Can’t complain though because friends and my old  university in the Bay Area, which happens to manage Lick Observatory, are under evacuation orders. 


Edited by gwlee, 24 August 2020 - 02:08 PM.

  • rexowner likes this

#9 rexowner

rexowner

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 245
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2017
  • Loc: SF Bay Area, California

Posted 24 August 2020 - 02:07 PM

I am a former PASTRO member living nearer to Yosemite NP these days. Haven’t seen much here other than heavy wildfire smoke for the last 10 days or so, except for a beautiful dry lightning storm last night that started a few more fires. Can’t complain though because friends and my university in the Bay Area are under evacuation orders. 

Wish I was there.

 

I still have reservations for Tuolumne Meadows campground in Mid September.  They

haven't been canceled yet, but I'm pretty sure they will be.

 

PASTRO has been having Zoom meetings.  A couple of nice presentations in the last

two months, videos of which I think are linked to on the website.


Edited by rexowner, 24 August 2020 - 02:08 PM.


#10 gwlee

gwlee

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,330
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2015
  • Loc: 38N 120W

Posted 24 August 2020 - 04:17 PM

Wish I was there.

 

I still have reservations for Tuolumne Meadows campground in Mid September.  They

haven't been canceled yet, but I'm pretty sure they will be.

 

PASTRO has been having Zoom meetings.  A couple of nice presentations in the last

two months, videos of which I think are linked to on the website.

I am a few miles north of the park boundary at 4,300 feet.  The worst of our fire season is usually September-October. In a bad year, the fires don’t go out until the first snowstorms put them out. Hopefully we’ll be lucky this year, and Tuolumne Meadows will remain open for your camping trip. 

 

Is PASTRO still doing the annual outreach/ camping trip to Glacier Point?


Edited by gwlee, 24 August 2020 - 04:17 PM.


#11 darkmatter14B

darkmatter14B

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 42
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2020
  • Loc: East San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA

Posted 24 August 2020 - 05:47 PM

I belong to the Tri-Valley Stargazers astronomy club in Livermore. We have an observing site near Lick Observatory.  Lick survived the fire, our site apparently did not.

 

- Cal

 

News as of 8/23/20

 

Unfortunately, our main observatory building was destroyed in the fire.
The dome and the outhouses are still standing.  At this time we do not
know if any equipment can be salvaged from the main building or the
state of the equipment inside the dome.

 

Once we are able to return to the property ourselves, we will assess the
full damage.  Our first priority will then be to make the grounds usable
again for observing visits.  I'll pass on more information as I get it.
This is a big loss for the club.  But the smoke will clear, the stars
will return, and we can rebuild.

 

Sorry to hear this.   On the plus side if there really is one, site should be safe from wildfires for many years to come once you rebuild. 



#12 rexowner

rexowner

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 245
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2017
  • Loc: SF Bay Area, California

Posted 24 August 2020 - 06:29 PM

I am a few miles north of the park boundary at 4,300 feet.  The worst of our fire season is usually September-October. In a bad year, the fires don’t go out until the first snowstorms put them out. Hopefully we’ll be lucky this year, and Tuolumne Meadows will remain open for your camping trip. 

 

Is PASTRO still doing the annual outreach/ camping trip to Glacier Point?

Hopefully next year, but I will have to ask about this at the next meeting.



#13 Allan Wade

Allan Wade

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,780
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Newcastle, Australia

Posted 24 August 2020 - 06:34 PM

I hope you guys are keeping safe.

 

A fire started not far from me last summer and took 79 days to get under control. It was huge and impacted a lot of people, and was even dumping ash on New Zealand over 2000km away. Observing was a right off for months. Fortunately I was able to go inland to my astro property which was in the clear. We had a lot of blood red moons.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1.jpg

  • gcs111, Cali and ihf like this

#14 vsteblina

vsteblina

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,340
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2007
  • Loc: Wenatchee, Washington

Posted 24 August 2020 - 07:15 PM

Your picture reminded me of the 2007 total lunar eclipse.

 

I was in a fire camp in Montana during the total lunar eclipse.

 

The smoke was pretty bad.  The eclipse was in the early morning.  But before I went to bed, I saw the blood red moon rising in the east. Nothing else was visible. 

 

Great view of the moon through the smoke, best "eclipse" I had seen since 1978.

 

I got up at 3:00 am to see the REAL ECLIPSE.  Couldn't see a thing through the smoke.


  • Allan Wade likes this

#15 gwlee

gwlee

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,330
  • Joined: 06 Sep 2015
  • Loc: 38N 120W

Posted 25 August 2020 - 04:38 PM

I hope you guys are keeping safe.

 

A fire started not far from me last summer and took 79 days to get under control. It was huge and impacted a lot of people, and was even dumping ash on New Zealand over 2000km away. Observing was a right off for months. Fortunately I was able to go inland to my astro property which was in the clear. We had a lot of blood red moons.

The firefighters coming from Australia to California help out are much appreciated. Thank you all.


  • Jon Isaacs, csa/montana, Vesper818 and 1 other like this

#16 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama & Gold Star Award Winner

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 108,640
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 25 August 2020 - 04:51 PM

 

The firefighters coming from Australia to California help out are much appreciated. Thank you all.

bow.gif   It's nice that firefighters do this.  Some from Montana went to fight the Australia fires early this year; sadly did not come home.  Link  These men (and women) who fight these fires are heroes for sure!  Praying all those that are fighting these fires get home safely!


  • CollinofAlabama, George N, GeneT and 2 others like this

#17 PhilA

PhilA

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 40
  • Joined: 11 Feb 2020

Posted 25 August 2020 - 05:38 PM

On the Cal Central Coast - I saw Venus this morning for the first time in weeks . . . but then the fog rolled in. If it isn't one thing it is another.

 

Special thanks to all the fire fighters and everyone else involved in this battle. 



#18 Allan Wade

Allan Wade

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,780
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2013
  • Loc: Newcastle, Australia

Posted 25 August 2020 - 08:28 PM

The firefighters coming from Australia to California help out are much appreciated. Thank you all.

Yes that’s a great trade our countries have going where we can help each other out during the fire season.



#19 kjkrum

kjkrum

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 177
  • Joined: 08 Mar 2019
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona, USA

Posted 25 August 2020 - 09:41 PM

Tucson is smokier than when our own Catalina Mountains were on fire.

#20 Redbetter

Redbetter

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,779
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2016
  • Loc: Central Valley, CA

Posted 25 August 2020 - 11:44 PM

It had cleared enough on Monday that I was able to run my full route without having that irritating feeling in my chest afterward that has followed any outdoor activity on prior days.  And by evening it cleared enough that I could see stars overhead and to the south--although the north still had enough that Polaris was missing and most of Cassiopeia.  However, overhead I was still only barely reaching ~3.5 mag in Lyra. 

 

Tonight overhead I was seeing to ~4.5 mag without much effort.  Still not clear, but much better.



#21 darkmatter14B

darkmatter14B

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 42
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2020
  • Loc: East San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA

Posted 26 August 2020 - 01:13 AM

I'm in Castro Valley (East Bay) and I took a quick peak at the red spot on Jupiter......it's clear and seeing is above average I would say.   Don't smell any smoke either.     Going to hang out until Mars gets up a little higher in the sky. 



#22 Redbetter

Redbetter

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,779
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2016
  • Loc: Central Valley, CA

Posted 26 August 2020 - 02:08 AM

I'm in Castro Valley (East Bay) and I took a quick peak at the red spot on Jupiter......it's clear and seeing is above average I would say.   

If you mean tonight, I'm not sure if you were seeing the GRS.  It was just barely starting to reach the limb (from the other side) at the time you posted.  If you saw a bit of it just starting to nose around then you had it.  I've been watching for the past half hour with the ES 127, trying to improve my GRS timing in Stellarium after an update, it is just now getting some separation from the limb (in poor seeing.) 



#23 darkmatter14B

darkmatter14B

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 42
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2020
  • Loc: East San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA

Posted 26 August 2020 - 11:09 AM

Yeah, this was around 11pm last night.  Well, shucks, thought I saw it frown.gif ....but if it wasn't physically  there, guess I didn't.   In my defense, magnification was about 114x, which requires some imagination at times. smile.gif.     

 

I think I could see the polar region of Mars around 1am with around 192x.    Actually, it's first time I've looked at Mars, so who knows what I really saw.  

 

But, the sky here was way clearer than I expected. 


Edited by darkmatter14B, 26 August 2020 - 11:15 AM.


#24 JMW

JMW

    Skylab

  • -----
  • Posts: 4,042
  • Joined: 11 Feb 2007
  • Loc: Nevada

Posted 26 August 2020 - 12:16 PM

We live in Reno Nevada. The air has been better here since Monday morning. Right now it is rated 92. It was terrible for 8 days mostly rated unhealthy for everybody. The last couple of days I haven't been able to smell the smoke but it is still visible when looking towards the mountains in the distance. There were times last week when visibility was less than a mile.

 

I love living in Reno but wildfire smoke has become a regular issue for the last several years. We have canceled several backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada mountains because smelling smoke and not seeing any views takes all the fun out of backpacking in the mountains. We were out in Emigrant Wilderness when the Rim fire took off. We stayed out for 3 nights. We had to navigate on the granite using GPS only because we couldn't see a half a mile. When I got home and looked at the fire maps I found that at one point we were only about 4 miles downwind from the head of the fire. We were on mostly granite so no danger from direct fire but the smoke was bad at times.


Edited by JMW, 26 August 2020 - 12:21 PM.


#25 KI5CAW

KI5CAW

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 93
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2019
  • Loc: East Mountains, New Mexico

Posted 30 August 2020 - 10:29 AM

When I was in college in the 70s, studying ecology, we did a field trip to study the manzanita scrub ecosystem that covers so much of California. Many of these plants evolved under conditions of regular fires - some even require fire in order to reproduce. The professor told us that fires happened every 20-50 years but that since the arrival of Europeans the fires had been suppressed, for 150+ years. The manzanita was 12 feet tall even back then. The prof said "when these areas finally catch fire, it will be like a firebomb went off." Well, here we are.


  • BradFran likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics