February 24, 2017 Friday – Kartchner Caverns & the night sky at Dragoon Mountain Ranch, Arizona, USA
Garry reserved (a few days ago) the Big Room Tour for the Kartchner Caverns for this afternoon. We depart around 1PM so we have time to look around the visitor centre before the tour starts. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed, and they even insist that we leave our cellphones behind in a locker. The tour starts by everyone being taken up the hill in a tram, and then we enter the caverns through a series of doors and air locks. The Big Room is indeed very big, and the history of the caves is interesting, with lots of stalagmites, stalactites, and other cave objects to see. We also learn about the bats who inhabit the cave and use it as a nursery.
On the way back, we go to the Benson Golf Course for dinner. It is a modest place, but the food is good and reasonably priced. This is our last meal together, since we leave tomorrow for home or further travels.
We head back home to do some observing – my last night observing from this special place. We struggle to get focusing working while using the Ha filter, and eventually have to admit defeat. Once the system is restored back to normal settings, I image an object that interests me – NGC 2174, an emission & reflection nebula. I stay inside the house to keep warm while the system takes the images automatically until the series finishes at 2AM. A couple of my astronomy buddies get up at this time to observe Omega Centauri (photo), so I join them to have a look before heading off to bed. My observing report