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Kartchner Caverns & the night sky

February 24, 2017 Friday – Kartchner Caverns & the night sky at Dragoon Mountain Ranch, Arizona, USA

2017 Southern Arizona & Astronomy

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

NGC 2174 emission & reflection nebula
NGC 2174 emission & reflection nebula
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Langkawi, Malaysia

Feb 26, 2016 – Porto Malai, Langkawi, Malaysia

2016 – SE Asia and Total Solar Eclipse cruise

Bats sleeping in their cave in Kilim Karst Geoforest Park Langkawi, Malaysia
Bats sleeping in their cave in Kilim Karst Geoforest Park Langkawi, Malaysia

Langkawi is a lovely island, which is a destination for tourism and a duty free area in Malaysia. I can see why Australians in particular come to this SE Asian destination. My shore excursion today involves bats in caves and exploring a mangrove looking for eagles.

After driving to the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, we board small boats and zoom around the mangrove channels to see a fish farm (setup for tourists), the Langkawi Eagles (brown colour) and Sea Eagles (black and white) taking food in the channel, and exploring the bat caves. The little bats are asleep during the day, but they apparently do a great job of keeping the bug population down. There are Long-tailed Macaque monkeys lurking around the entrances to the caves. They try to steal tourists’ water bottles, since their only other source of water is to climb to the tops of trees for the fruit to be found up there.

Other than getting a headache from the outboard motor fumes, I have a great day!

 
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