Near Cedar Fort. The clouds are not looking promising. . . but I'll play with this picture and it will make a nice view of the mountains with the clouds and desert.
This is raw and I haven't played with the picture but I love the capture of clouds and light from the sun as I drive out the roads to the west desert. To me this is simply beautiful. Well, it would be more beautiful if there were no clouds since I was going star gazing.
Again, just love the contrast.
Another raw image and you can see the Pathfinder's shadow and my shadow with the cell phone camera. Love the play of the shadows in the distance. I was going to zoom in but my friend Mat called and I would rather talk at this point that take pictures. Having said that if you look back in my blog at the Pit n Pole location, you'll find that this area is really getting over run by the sage brush and cheet grass. I wonder in how many more years (it's been 2 or 3 that has really changed the site) before the weeds take over!
Well last night, Mat, Allan and myself along with Dallin and Greg (not sure on the last name) all met at the Pit n Pole to observe. Yep, I call it observing. We got set up and were ready and those darn clouds you can see in the picture above started coming and going, advancing and retreating. As we were collimating we suddenly heard a very loud rat a tat tat that repeated in spurts. It sounded to me like a .50 caliber machine gun going off. Five Mile Pass had a lot, and I mean A LOT of RV's with ATV's and though they are not suppose to, sometimes people bring firearms out and shoot them off (for safety this area is suppose to be a no shoot area so ATVers don't get shot while driving). I used my 9x50 finderscope as did Mat and we couldn't detect any shooting. We thought for sure we'd see a muzzle flash or a tracer going off. Nothing.
As night fell, I noticed in the eastern sky there were flashes behind the hills you can see in the distance which were east of us. These flashes looked like artillery impacts and the Mat had suggested that the sounds were artillery practice from Camp Williams, a National Guard camp that does have heavy artillery. Though I agreed with that but struck me as weird was that the flashed were in the vicinity of a very small town and former US army camp called Camp Floyd. Established in 1858 by Brigadier General Albert Sidney Johnston, who later would become famous for leading the Confederate Army in the Civil War at the Battle of Shiloh where he was killed. General Johnston had been ordered West with 3500 men to put down a Mormon Rebellion by President James Buchanan. Brigham Young and Mormon leaders had agreed to allow Johnston to pass through Salt Lake City and then march out to where the Camp Floyd site is, a good distance away. At the location Johnston ordered a camp to be built. Later this site was used as a stagecoach in by the Pony Express. See this link on more info on Camp Floyd.
Anyway, these flashes over Camp Floyd didn't make sense to me, so at Mat's suggestion, I grabbed my cell phone, tried to take pictures of the flashes, that didn't work so I took two short movies. I have posted the movies to YouTube so you can see. The first one is lame, it's me trying to be funny on camera which failed, but at around 29 to 35 seconds you can see the flashes that occur. they go fast so you have to watch carefully. Then skip the rest, it's me talking like a news caster trying to say the Taliban is attacking Camp Floyd, the center of U.S. or something silly like that. The second movie actually captures in the distance a couple of actual fireworks going off. So mystery solved. I find there is usually a rational explanation to most mysteries. Dallin and his friend also had arrived and told us by now that they were fireworks being set off and it is Camp Floyd Days this weekend.
The events of the night did lead me to thinking though how when we see the unexplained we as humans seek to make meaning of that. I did last night. It was important and fun to try and figure it out. So in this case these lights and sounds were a UFO to us in the sense they were lights in the sky making sounds, but we figured out what they were. It also reminded me that until I do know I need to keep my mouth shut so I don't worry other people about my speculation which often is done in jest or in fun.
The rest of the night I couldn't work on any list or sketching objects due to the clouds. Mat and I did a comparison of our less glass vs. more glass eyepieces and on M51, M13, the galaxy next to M13 NGC 6207 and I know that in my case my 10mm Baader Classic Ortho had a sharper view, more detail view than the 10mm Pentax XW. Not by much, but just enough to see the difference. I believe Mat had a similar experience. By 11:00 pm we broke down and loaded up, and of course we then had a sucker hole open back up but it was too late. So off to home and in bed by 12:30a.m. I would have preferred to have observed til 3:00 or 4:00a.m., spent the night and came home. Oh, well. Next up, some outreach for me and then my next observing nights will be the Utah Star Party! I hope the weather rocks which it should and we have three glorious days of observing and visiting.