Nothing New

Sorry, I really don't have a lot going on. The skies were clear last night and tonight IF I could get up in the mountains to one of a couple observing sites. Unfortunately since I am working, I cannot get up there and be home at a decent hour since I have to work. My personality is such that because I have a commitment, I take it seriously, especially being a teacher, and my students are my priority.

In northern Utah we get this wonderful thing called an inversion. This is caused by a layer of cold air getting stuck in the valley below, and warmer air being above it. Snow on the ground adds to the problem. The layer of clouds is not actually clouds, it is pollution and causes a very gray and cold situation underneath it. The only way to get away from it is to get above it where the warm air and where the particulates from the atmosphere are huddled together. Here are some images of it:

(Those mountains in the distance, you won't see when your in the inversion, but I live south of the middle mountains in the distance) This image from one of our local canyons (Big Cottonwood I think) shows the level of pollution in the inversion. Because of the pollutants, and because the air is so cold under it causing frozen dew to form, and because I have seen those pollutants get on a mirror I often chose not to go out into that mess if I can't get up into the mountains above the pollution/inversion. I find it funny in a sick way, having grown up in the greater San Francisco Bay Area that in the Salt Lake City region we call this inversion. We really need to call it by its real name, smaug. It is unhealthy and will only get worse because of the growth in population, lack of mass transit that is under utilized in the valley.

For the West Desert, I will go because if you go out far enough, you can get away from the inversion (for awhile, it will migrate over time) but those sites are a good 2 hours out and I need time, something I don't have. Luckily I have mainly Open Clusters to track down so if I can get some good nights now that my health is back, I'll have that to report on. I'm itching very bad to get out and get observing. I've updated my printed charts, my equipment is ready to go as are my sketching materials. Now I need time to go out of this muck and observe! I'm off for three weeks starting a week from Monday so I will be getting some good observing in. Hopefully I can see Saturn's storm.

Finally, here is one of my winter observing sites. Tibble Fork Reservoir, just in the Parking Lot. In the late afternoon you'll have snowmobilers packing up after spending a day up there, but the parking lot clears out, and it is clear (usually) and one can observe at around 6392 feet. I've posted before on it but if you want. pack up the scope and stuff, haul an intertube and get up early and go tubing on a nearby hill before setting up for the night. Be warned though, the hill can cause injury as a 38 year old man found out on December 26, 2010 when he went over several bumps and on the last one, going to fast, broke his left leg and possibly some ribs. I'll stick to the easy snow shoe trails nearby where I can also bird watch while enjoying snow shoeing.