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California fires killing astronomy

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#1 aa6ww

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 12:00 PM

Anyone else in California where the Sun Moon and Planets are all red and only a few starts like Vega are visible?

Ive tried to observe in these skies but its a complete waste of time. 

The Gray skies are very annoying.

Is anyone in Calif getting clear skies? I'll just have to sit this one out till the blue skies return.

Ever since I bought my CGEMII, the skies have been horrible. I had one good weekend, and then the fires started.

 

...Ralph


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#2 Jim Waters

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 12:16 PM

I live in Phoenix and we get smoke from the CA fire here too.



#3 MikiSJ

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 12:23 PM

Here in San Jose, CA with two fires (east of San Jose and southwest of San Jose [Santa Cruz]) I can barely make out the foothills behind my house. Both fires, as of last night, are less than 50% contained.

 

We have an atmospheric high settling in this week so the temps will be high and the winds light. Fortunately the humidity has been high (+50%) and that helps the firefighters.

 

Fortunately, the Lick Observatory was spared but the burn came right up to the road where the Lick is housed. My little backyard observatory hasn't even been turned on for the two weeks since the fires started.



#4 vdog

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 12:26 PM

I've been doing some planetary observing when the smoke isn't so bad I don't even want to breathe the air outside, but that's it.  I may not be able to do any deep sky observing for a long time.



#5 aa6ww

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 12:48 PM

I'm in Sacramento. During the first week of the fires, I noticed the parked cars were all getting a layer of ash all over them, Now that is gone and the air no longer smells of smoke.

The morning skies seems dark, like it's overcast, but it's still the smoke causing this.

I dont remember a fire issue over here last year, but its been a common thing for fires to disrupt at least new moon weekend during our summer.

 

Hopefully it clears soon and people are safe along with their homes.

 

...Ralph



#6 pyrasanth

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 01:01 PM

At least the smoke & haze will eventually clear. It is nothing like the curse of light pollution from LED that will never abate unless it is removed and that is just not going to happen anytime soon.


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#7 trigger

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 03:44 AM

You know what's more annoying, having your home burn down or worse, lose a love one to these fires. Yeah it sucks we can't look through our toys. It is what it is and like some have said, it will pass and you'll have your skies again. 


Edited by trigger, 02 September 2020 - 03:44 AM.

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#8 osbourne one-nil

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 04:06 AM

Absolutely and no one is suggesting otherwise!


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#9 MDT

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 08:03 AM

There are 4 major fires burning in Colorado. They have been burning for almost a month.  3 out of the 4 they suspect were man made. We can't even open a window without the house smelling like smoke.

We are hoping for an early snow.


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#10 PhilA

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 09:23 AM

I live on the Central Coast of California and haven't seen a star of any size or shape in 2 months. Smoke - fog - smoke - fog, ad infinitum. You can only re-route the cables on your scope so many times . . . Maybe I should have gotten into fishing.


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#11 jagg3d

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 03:40 PM

Same here in the Tri-Valley, better in the Danville/San Ramon area for some reason. Westward winds tend bracket the area in since the fires usually are north and south of here. Since the fires I've only been able to do planetary and not very much of it. 



#12 Andrew Brown

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 05:30 PM

Wow smoke from fires that have and are devastating wildlife, ecology and communities and your **** about not being able to use your scope?

 

Seriously??? be glad your not facing a fire front....


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#13 gnowellsct

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 08:07 PM

Just the natural cycle of climate and weather. On a positive note, once the affected forests burn out... at least they will be relatively immune for a very long time. We get forest fires here, in New York, but the generally moist climate makes those rare events. Every region has its disasters: tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, swarms, floods, volcanoes, blizzards, ice storms, plagues, fires... Once the smoke clears, you should have cobalt skies for years to come!    Tom

About 1% of California has been on fire.  If it burns at the rate of 1% a year we're looking at 100 years before it has burned through everything.

 

And then the previously burned areas will be ready to burn again.  I don't see a happy ending here, unless there is more rain.

 

Greg N


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#14 Mike E.

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 09:34 PM

Wow smoke from fires that have and are devastating wildlife, ecology and communities and your **** about not being able to use your scope?

 

Seriously??? be glad your not facing a fire front....

Yeah, I still remember the highway 41 fire back in 1994. It burned right up to my back fence line. Fortunately for us several fire units mistakenly turned on to my ranch road thinking it went through, otherwise we might have lost everything. I'm forever grateful to the crews from Lebec.


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#15 osbourne one-nil

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 01:16 AM

Wow smoke from fires that have and are devastating wildlife, ecology and communities and your **** about not being able to use your scope?

 

Seriously??? be glad your not facing a fire front....

The two sentiments are not mutually exclusive. Let's not be too judgemental...just because someone hasn't said something doesn't mean they don't think it. 


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#16 aa6ww

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 02:51 AM

lol.gif

 

....Ralph

 

 

 

 

Wow smoke from fires that have and are devastating wildlife, ecology and communities and your **** about not being able to use your scope?

 

Seriously??? be glad your not facing a fire front....



#17 vsteblina

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Posted 03 September 2020 - 03:32 PM

About 1% of California has been on fire.  If it burns at the rate of 1% a year we're looking at 100 years before it has burned through everything.

 

And then the previously burned areas will be ready to burn again.  I don't see a happy ending here, unless there is more rain.

 

Greg N

It is actually worse than that for forested lands. 

 

The first fire kills the trees and then that becomes the fuel bed for the next round of fires in 20 years or so.

 

The good news is that fires 20 hence will burn much hotter than today's fires in many cases.  Those fires burn hot enough to sterilize the soil so that trees and shrubs will take hundreds of  years to return. Unfortunately, not the entire area burns hot enough to burn off soil nutrients.  But it does a good enough job that is breaks up the fuel bed allowing for easier control.

 

But the good news is after those two fire cycles there will be fewer forests to burn and carry the fire.  Even after the first round of fires there are enough trees killed to make astronomy make much attractive as a hobby in those areas.

 

Unfortunately, for southern California, the natural fire frequency, if I remember correctly, is seven years.  After 20 years the chamise-chaparral vegetation reaches max bio-mass.  And your once again you get those spectacular fires.  It doesn't take much soil to grow chamise-chaparral ecosystems.


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#18 Stardust Dave

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Posted 09 September 2020 - 06:32 PM

The fire seasons we can expect to (sadly) happen yearly. 

 

My approach to avoid smoky skies for observing is to  observe as many hours nights / AM's as possible from about when the years fire season ends.  Sky clears ,until the next year's fire season.  Get while the getting is good.

 

Like catching up on my Fall objects on early mornings in July . 

I'm expecting to loose part of August , Sept , perhaps October to smoky skies each year so I plan ahead.

 

Fire season great time to catch up on projects , reading books  -playing music ect and wait for evac orders.

 

"On a positive note, once the affected forests burn out... at least they will be relatively immune for a very long time."

 

I would respectfully disagree with that statement . But you did say "relatively immune" which could be interpreted many ways IMO. 
In other words I'd witnessed the same areas get hammered year after year.  Not every tree burns. 

 

Our local forests still plumb full of half burned pine and oak ,partially burned up trees still standing . Tons of fuel.  For this year and many to come. 

 

Sad to see our beautiful forests burn , but blessed to have not lost many people up this way so far this year.

Seeing the loss of homes , humans in Malibu ,frown.gif  


Edited by Stardust Dave, 09 September 2020 - 07:48 PM.


#19 awong101

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Posted 09 September 2020 - 06:41 PM

Oh you can't see through your scope comfortably in your backyard? How tragic...

 

Meanwhile, thousands of other people's backyards are burned to the ground. But nevermind them, right? 


Edited by awong101, 09 September 2020 - 06:44 PM.


#20 aa6ww

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Posted 09 September 2020 - 07:04 PM

The skies are worse here this week then a few weeks ago. Usually we get one bad month because of smoke from fires. This year may add a second month.

I did get to catch some white light solar observing a few days ago before this second round of fires started. That was nice, getting the scope out, even if it was my smallest one.

 

...Ralph


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#21 RLK1

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Posted 09 September 2020 - 07:08 PM

Oh you can't see through your scope comfortably in your backyard? How tragic...

 

Meanwhile, thousands of other people's backyards are burned to the ground. But nevermind them, right? 

I don't think anybody means to minimize the deleterious and serious effects of a wildfire. I think observers here are just reacting to a particular facet of the effects of a fire, namely the widespread smoke it produces. Mt Wilson observatory has been evacuated as a result of the Bobcat fire and that obviously affects its operation on site. So, I don't see the effects of the smoke as an innocuous by product that should not be discussed...


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#22 osbourne one-nil

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Posted 10 September 2020 - 02:48 AM

I agree, as I've hinted at before I am quite happy to take it as read that everybody's thoughts are for anyone suffering directly from a result of these fires. This is an astronomy forum though and I think it entirely reasonable to talk around the side-effects too so let's not go looking for conflict! 


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#23 jcj380

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Posted 10 September 2020 - 09:54 AM

A little OT, but what smoke map(s) do people access?  I've Googled around, but haven't found a good near realtime map with continental coverage.  Best I've found so far is the NOAA map.  I have a good one for Cali, but I'm in Illinois.


Edited by jcj380, 10 September 2020 - 09:54 AM.


#24 DSOGabe

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Posted 10 September 2020 - 12:40 PM

Have an old classmate who now lives in SF. She sent a picture, the skies are orange and the sun is a barely visible round glob. I can only imagine how breathing must feel.



#25 DaveL

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Posted 10 September 2020 - 02:46 PM

A little OT, but what smoke map(s) do people access?  I've Googled around, but haven't found a good near realtime map with continental coverage.  Best I've found so far is the NOAA map.  I have a good one for Cali, but I'm in Illinois.

Here's the forecasts I use. I look at the vertically integrated smoke:

https://rapidrefresh...a.gov/RAPsmoke/


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