February 11, 2018 Sunday – Dragoon Mountain Ranch
2018 Southern Arizona and Astronomy
The wild fires are mostly out, however there is still lots of smoke a couple of kilometres to the northeast, and there are still a few hotspots. The fire crews are still there, and the roadblocks are still in place. About 25 big fire trucks leave this evening at 7:45PM, so obviously they are finished mopping up.
We go grocery shopping in Benson today, since I still need some ingredients for the pasta dinner I’m making this evening, and others come along to pick up supplies. I roll the window down as we drive out and let the sheriff know we will be returning in an hour or two. He jokes with me about us having to give him the Tesla for a test drive on our return trip.
I make a double-sized turkey pasta casserole for dinner this evening – an easy meal which everyone seems to like. After dinner, we get organized to go outside to observe the night sky. We start early with observing Uranus, and move onto deep sky objects as the sky darkens. I get the opportunity to image NGC 2170 Angel Nebula this evening – a group of three beautiful emission and reflection nebulae. I obtain some good data over the next two hours, ending at 12:30AM.
February 12, 2018 Monday – Dragoon Mountain Ranch
We all sleep in a bit this morning, since some of us didn’t get to bed until 4AM, although I was in bed by 1AM. We take the Tesla to drive down the road to see the damage of the wildfires. There are extensive burned areas, and yet all four houses in the area survived unscathed – a testament to excellent firefighting skills by the crews!
We have a wonderful Moroccan chicken dinner this evening using chicken thighs, dried fruit and nuts, olive oil, olives, onions, and various spices. It has been marinating for the last 24 hours inside a big plastic bag in the fridge before it is baked in the oven. We have salad, brown rice, and potatoes with the chicken. After dinner, the wind continues to build and cloud cover is over 50% so it is a write-off for both observing and imaging tonight, so we all have to find other entertainment!