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.