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There is no future for astronomy

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#1 Araguaia

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 08:05 AM

I finally get a lull in the firefighting, but of course no chance of observing, even without a cloud in the sky.  I can't even see Mars or the Moon in the evening or Venus in the morning, though the Sun can be observed easily in direct vision two hours before sunset.  One hour before sunset, it too is gone.

 

Increasingly, the year seems divided into a cloudy season and a smoke season, and I can see it's the same in half the world.  In the past year my observing has been limited to rare clear nights in the cloudy season (which I can only take advantage of because I observe from my yard, as they almost never coincide with weekends), or to a shrinking window between the end of the clouds and the start of the smoke.  And it seems to be getting worse every year.  We rant about light pollution and Starlink, but at least you can mitigate for those.

 

On top of it, I don't even feel like observing.  I smell the smoke, and the thought of the devastated forests, the burnt wildlife, the wrecked cattle ranches left with no grazing, the homes gone up in smoke, makes me just want to slink into a hole and curl up.  I have nothing to contribute to CN except on the coronavirus thread, which I really, really hate and want to see sinking into oblivion.

 

We as a species don't deserve the glory of the night sky.  Sometimes I feel like ditching the scope, quitting this forum, letting the bush burn, and just embracing the steampunk hell we are building for ourselves.


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#2 Jeff B1

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 08:20 AM

I finally get a lull in the firefighting, but of course no chance of observing, even without a cloud in the sky.  I can't even see Mars or the Moon in the evening or Venus in the morning, though the Sun can be observed easily in direct vision two hours before sunset.  One hour before sunset, it too is gone.

 

Increasingly, the year seems divided into a cloudy season and a smoke season, and I can see it's the same in half the world.  In the past year my observing has been limited to rare clear nights in the cloudy season (which I can only take advantage of because I observe from my yard, as they almost never coincide with weekends), or to a shrinking window between the end of the clouds and the start of the smoke.  And it seems to be getting worse every year.  We rant about light pollution and Starlink, but at least you can mitigate for those.

 

On top of it, I don't even feel like observing.  I smell the smoke, and the thought of the devastated forests, the burnt wildlife, the wrecked cattle ranches left with no grazing, the homes gone up in smoke, makes me just want to slink into a hole and curl up.  I have nothing to contribute to CN except on the coronavirus thread, which I really, really hate and want to see sinking into oblivion.

 

We as a species don't deserve the glory of the night sky.  Sometimes I feel like ditching the scope, quitting this forum, letting the bush burn, and just embracing the steampunk hell we are building for ourselves.

move


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#3 Araguaia

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 08:30 AM

move

Where to?  North America?  Australia?  Europe?  Africa?  frown.gif

 

Looks like a global problem from space:

 

https://neo.sci.gsfc...=MOD14A1_M_FIRE

 

aaa.jpeg


Edited by Araguaia, 20 September 2020 - 08:31 AM.

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#4 Gipht

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 08:59 AM

When you started talking about fires, I assumed you lived in California.   You must have a very interesting life, living in Brazil.  Are you a fire fighter?  If so, you must be exhausted.  Take care of yourself and your health.

 

This year for me in Arizona, has been the least productive since I started.  Clouds, the moon, and now the smoky haze from California have stood in the way.  Still,  maybe 40 nights out during this year.  Hopefully, the fall season will bring some relief.

 

In the scheme of things, astronomy is not that important.  Humanity has suffered a blow this year from the virus,  and many environmental disasters.  If I were sick, or homeless, then I would have something to complain about.


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#5 SeaBee1

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 09:04 AM

No question, these are tuff times, and for just about any activity... but this too shall pass... and if by some chance civilization does come to a catastrophic end, at least the skies will be dark... don't sell the equipment yet...

 

Keep looking up!

 

CB


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#6 Gipht

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 09:11 AM

I went camping up in the Forest north of Flagstaff this week,  and the  forest management practices were very good.  The smaller trees  and ground fuel had been cleared out to decrease the fire danger.  Still, the forest was  powder dry.  Our dogs were coated with dust after our hike.   With a strong wind, a fire would explode through even a well managed forest.  Let's hope that does not happen.


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#7 Jeff B1

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 09:12 AM

The only smoke we see here in central Florida is when the state government has controlled burns.  Of course they will not allow farmers to burn.  At least here they clear out dead brush and trees, unlike California -- the burning State it is called now.


Edited by Jeff B1, 20 September 2020 - 09:15 AM.

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#8 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 09:15 AM

When you started talking about fires, I assumed you lived in California.   You must have a very interesting life, living in Brazil.  Are you a fire fighter?  If so, you must be exhausted.  Take care of yourself and your health.

 

This year for me in Arizona, has been the least productive since I started.  Clouds, the moon, and now the smoky haze from California have stood in the way.  Still,  maybe 40 nights out during this year.  Hopefully, the fall season will bring some relief.

 

In the scheme of things, astronomy is not that important.  Humanity has suffered a blow this year from the virus,  and many environmental disasters.  If I were sick, or homeless, then I would have something to complain about.

 

I haven't counted my nights this year but I know that since July 29th, I've been out 36 nights. It would have been more except for the smoke. For the year, its well over 100 nights.

 

Some places are better for suited for a particular pursuit. San Diego is a poor place to live if you're an ice fishing enthusiast.

 

Jon


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#9 Araguaia

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 09:19 AM

Are you a fire fighter?  

 

We run a conservation non-profit, and since last year we were forced to become fire-fighters.  Since last Saturday we have been fighting a fire that threatened two of our reserves and a state protected area.  For the first four days we were basically alone as the state told the media that the situation was under control with dozens of state firefighters on the ground.  Only after one of our drone videos made the national news did help actually arrive.  It's mostly out now, except for embers that keep exploding into spot fires when the wind blows.  But there is another major fire in the park, and it is still bone dry, hot, and windy, so I have little hope for a peaceful week ahead.


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#10 csa/montana

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 10:15 AM

I'm sorry that the OP is having such a bad time.  It's been very smoky here from the Western fires, and also some State fires.  However, I'm just thankful that the smoke is all I have to deal with!  I have been under evacuation in the past, so know how frightening it is, to realize that everything you have may not be there when you return.

 

Astronomy is not dead!  Astronomy is a hobby that exists because of the love of the night skies.  The smoke & fires will pass, and once again clear skies will return.  I have to keep thinking positive about everything in my life, otherwise the days & nights would  not be worthwhile to enjoy.  That is not living, that's just existing.


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#11 Tony Flanders

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 11:05 AM

The OP is in a particularly bad situation, not unlike people in the United States's Pacific Northwest. It is a climate already extremely prone to fire, even prior to recent climate change. More or less incessant clouds and plenty of precipitation for half of the year, allowing trees to grow at a furious rate. Alternating with half of the year when precipitation stops completely, allowing those same trees to dry out and burn. Thus the choice between clouds or smoke.

 

Things are much easier in the U.S. mountain states, where smoke may be a major problem for a few months, but then you can still count on a reasonable number of clear nights in the winter, once the smoke has cleared. Likewise in the eastern states, where the weather alternates between clear and precipitation about once a week all year around.

 

So far, major fires have been very rare in the U.S. Northeast, but it would be rash to become complacent. There were disastrous wildfires in the Southern Appalachians in 2016, and that's an area that's normally considerably wetter than here. And there were truly horrendous fires in Maine in 1947.

 

Right at this moment, there is a forecast of fire hazard in Southern New England, due to a prolonged period of little or no precipitation combined with low humidity and high winds. And there is no precipitation forecast for the next week, either. That would be unremarkable in (say) Southern California, but it's very rare to get three consecutive weeks without rain in this part of the world.


Edited by Tony Flanders, 20 September 2020 - 11:35 AM.

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#12 edwincjones

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 11:11 AM

....................We as a species don't deserve the glory of the night sky. ...........

Enjoy while we can still see it,

then watch George Carlin's monolog "Save the Planet" on Y-Tube

(this is not as funny now)

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 20 September 2020 - 11:12 AM.

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#13 Barlowbill

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 12:01 PM

In northeast Oklahoma, according to the TV weather man, smoke has reached us the last few days.  Supposed to clear out today.  I observed Jup, Saturn and Mars last Wednesday with my ETX90mm.  I could not discern any smoke.  Saturn looked as good as I have ever seen it with that scope.  Mars was a clear orange ball.  Jupiter seemed a little fuzzy but that may have been due to its brightness in imperfect skies.  Then the smoke hit.  For the next 2 nights I could not see Saturn naked eye.

Jup and Mars were easy to see naked eye but not Saturn.  Wife And I were driving last evening and got a clear view of the western horizon before sundown.  The sun was a huge red ball.  Not normal here.  Lots of smoke.  I looked for Saturn well after sundown, again naked eye, and I could see it but to the uninitiated I doubt it was visible.  I knew where to look and it was very faint.   I hope it is more back to normal this evening.  Light pollution is pretty bad in my backyard in southwest Tulsa but I believe the smoke has made it considerably worse the last few nights.  Like clouds, I think the smoke bounces the light right back at me.  At least I don't have fires to worry about here. 


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#14 sickfish

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 12:09 PM

Start fishing.


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#15 Sketcher

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 01:11 PM

There will always be a future for astronomy.  That being said, in the short-term, wildfires and their smoke can (temporarily) shut down some of the most popular ways in which this hobby is practiced.

 

During a previous year we had to evacuate due to a major forest fire.  This year, we've already had to pack up our vehicles for a possible evacuation.  Fortunately, the threatening fire was stopped before it became necessary for us to actually leave.

 

Wildfires are part of our world.  Here are three photos that were taken this year from my home:

 

Two Smoke Plumes 2020 Sketcher
 
Above you can see the smoke plumes from two of the three fires that started on the same day in my area.  Not shown is the smoke plume from the third fire -- the closer one that was approaching my location and resulted in an evacuation order.  Fortunately, control was gained over the threatening fire and the evacuation order was lifted.
 
Smoke 2020 Sketcher
 
The above photo was taken later on the same day as the first photo; but after smoke had grown thicker and moved directly over my neck of the (dried out) woods.
 
Morning Sun No Shadows Sketcher
 
And, since this is an astronomy forum, above is a photo of the morning sun in a cloudless sky; but that nearest of stars was unable to cast a single shadow.  Furthermore, the photo fails to show the true (deeper red) apparent color of our sun on that morning.
 
Yet, astronomy will go on -- in one way or another.
 
Having other hobbies can help a person get through those times when astronomy isn't possible:
 
Chess Opponent    Sketcher 2

 

 


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#16 GeneT

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 01:18 PM

Feelings like this come and go. Hang in there. Don't sell your telescope--unless it is to buy a different one. There is something very special about this hobby and these feelings last a lifetime.


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#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 01:38 PM

Right at this moment, there is a forecast of fire hazard in Southern New England, due to a prolonged period of little or no precipitation combined with low humidity and high winds. And there is no precipitation forecast for the next week, either. That would be unremarkable in (say) Southern California, but it's very rare to get three consecutive weeks without rain in this part of the world.

 

 

:waytogo:

 

San Diego Total Average rainfall:

 

June + July + August = 0.21 inches

 

Add May and September = 0.62 inches.

 

Jon 



#18 Araguaia

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 01:52 PM

Start fishing.

 

Don't even get me started on what we are doing to the rivers and ocean.


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#19 csa/montana

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 03:33 PM

Agreed, let's not!  This is an astronomy forum.


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#20 treadmarks

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 03:46 PM


 

Right at this moment, there is a forecast of fire hazard in Southern New England, due to a prolonged period of little or no precipitation combined with low humidity and high winds. And there is no precipitation forecast for the next week, either. That would be unremarkable in (say) Southern California, but it's very rare to get three consecutive weeks without rain in this part of the world.

Tony, I'm not sure if you noticed it last week, but the sky in the northeast was badly hazed over due to wildfire smoke coming from the west. For a time I could barely see Jupiter through the smoke, and I could not see Saturn. Fortunately, with our crazy weather, the smoke can't hang around up there for long and I don't see it anymore.



#21 RalphMeisterTigerMan

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 07:08 PM

I completely understand where your frustration is coming from. I have been into Astronomy for over 50 years and I have seen and learned much.

 

For example:

 

- I am remember after 236" Soviet Reflector fiasco, various engineers and optician stated unequivically that No One would ever build a telescope with a mirror larger that 200".

 

- Before the advent of transistors, several computer "experts" said that a large computer with the required number of vacuum tubes was impossible because with that many tubes, one would fail each second.

 

- During the first world war, some aviation "experts" predicted that after the end of the war that planes would be discarded because other than for use in warfare, there would be "no practical" use for them.

 

- How many engineers and scientists said that going to the Moon was impossible. The computers needed did not exist. Materials which could survive extremely high heat did not exist. People would not be able to survive in space. Also, no one would be foolish enough to volunteer to go on such a risky venture (suicide mission).

 

- Transonic and supersonic speed in aircraft would never be achieved.

 

- Visual astronomy would soon be obsolete because CCD cameras would never be within financial reach of amateurs.

 

- Ironically, light-pollution is becoming such a widespread problem that many Cities and municipalities are looking for alternative types of lighting so that we stop turning night into day. Any idea how many migrating birds die each your because they get confused and fly straight into office buildings?

 

There have and are ongoing studies of how light-pollution effects not only various wild life but also us. Bright lights at night means our bodies are not producing the melatonin we need to fall asleep and stay asleep. I have watched documentaries on how incredibly sleep deprived just us North Americans are. And not sleep, our hearts cannot keep operating the way they should without proper sleep. Car accidents will keep increasing because of either falling asleep at the wheel or we just can't concentrate because of extreme tiredness. 

 

And don't try telling me that self driving cars will aliviate this problem, Sooner or later the various governments will have to stand up and take notice or many of us will be "asleep at the wheel or any other vitall jobs...airline pilots.

 

Clear skies.

RalphMeisterTigerMan


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#22 Redbetter

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 08:33 PM

All of my dark observing spots are closed due to the fires.  Lost last month for the same reason.  I have been able to get in some Mars observing and that has been about it.  Jupiter has been mostly swallowed by smoke.  Mars has been the only thing in the sky about half the time when the skies weren't completely enveloped in smoke.  

 

I have come to expect some lost time to smoke from fires out here, but usually I can find a few nights that are clear and that I can get to elevation in a given Moon cycle.  Not so this year.  Add in the lost access during early Covid closures and I am at half my normal observing tally for the year.

 

Don't worry, as soon as the smoke/fire threat clears, I'm sure Elon Musk will find some new way to wreck the sky.  He's always working on it.


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#23 Xyrus

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 10:40 PM

Enjoy while we can still see it,

then watch George Carlin's monolog "Save the Planet" on Y-Tube

(this is not as funny now)

 

edj

Brother Carlin was a prophet. He predicted, through his humor, pretty much everything that is happening now. laugh.gif


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#24 DigitalFox

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 03:56 AM

I always tell myself that the sky isn't going anywhere. On the scale of a human life it's one of the most permanent things we have.

 

Right now I'm struggling with the state of the world like quite a few people I know. I've grown weary of society and the state of the world. I'm ready to buy my retirement sailboat early and disappear from the world for a few years. However for the time being, the time that I get to spend under a dark sky is my refuge, a place where I can disappear from the noise and chaos for a few hours.

 

If the night sky means as much to you as it does to me, consider packing everything up and moving somewhere where you can have a slice of that that escapism/peace on a regular basis.


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#25 Todd N

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 05:56 AM

I'm equally depressed. I live in Southern California.This has been the worst  weather year for astronomy that I can remember. I was so jazzed about getting out this summer for astrophography. Alas, nothing this season. I watched the weather forecast like a hawk and it always turned bad. I wonder if it is connected to solar minimum; Cosmic rays seed cloud formation. If that is the case I don't want to have to wait years before the skies improve on average. It's a good time to become friends with Johnnie Walker.




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