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Posts Made By: Rod Kaufman

April 11, 2008 05:49 PM Forum: After Dark

Thursday Night At Pinos/Light Pollution

Posted By Rod Kaufman

With very good conditions predicted by weather service and the clear sky clock, I decided to observe from Mt Pinos on Thursday evening, despite the presence of a 28% illuminated crescent moon. Since the moon was setting at around midnight anyway, I didn't feel it was posing much of an obstacle.
I thought I was going to be solo up on the mountain but a gentleman and his family arrived with a C8 and set up next to me which made for some good company smile
Seeing conditions were, for the most part, excellent. Although a steady breeze persisted until midnight, seeing remained very stable and Saturn appeared refractor-like in my 16" f4.5 dob. I was able to view it throughout most of the evening with 6 and 4mm eyepieces and the cassini's division appeared inky black while the clouds bands on the planet displayed delicate structure. Saturn's moons appeared pinpoint even at high power. I recall Steve Kennedy remarking that breezy conditions can help remove the boundary layer at the primary and improve resolution. The latter seemed to be at play last night.
Despite good seeing and transparency, the sky was quite luminous and I'm not sure why. The sky quality meter registered 21.15 at 2:00am and that's not good. There appeared to be a lot of sky glow emanating from Bakersfield but the entire sky appeared relatively bright and DSO's appeared washed-out except near the zenith. I'm not sure if there's been new development in or near Bakersfield but the skyglow from that direction was intense. :C
I could still see relatively good detail in galaxies that were riding high in the sky such as in ursa major and canes venati but I could barely make out the milky way in cygnus as it was rising at 2:00am :S
I'm not quite sure why the sky was so luminous but I hope it was just a quirk and not a trend...

May 8, 2008 07:26 PM Forum: After Dark

Well, There goes Lockwood/Mt Pinos Observing

Posted By Rod Kaufman

Thousands of homes and everything that goes with them, supermarkets, Wal Marts, etc are on the way:,0,25201.story?track=mostviewed-storylevel

July 31, 2008 03:02 PM Forum: After Dark

Wednesday Night at Pinos

Posted By Rod Kaufman

It always amazes me how good the transparency and seeing can be above you when you're being blasted by the wind on top of you.
Such was the evening on Wednesday at Mt Pinos. I arrived at 4:30pm expecting to see a few amateurs as a forerunner to the hordes who will arrive on the weekend. That's pretty much what I found. One guy from pine mountain club with his 7" meade mak, who never uses his fans, another with a binocular array and still one more after dark with a SC.
Excellent seeing conditions prevailed and I could use my 4mm teton planetary eyepiece with my 16" f4.5 dob on Jupiter throughout the night with nice color rendition in the bands and festoons. I thought to myself if I wanted seeing conditions that good, I should have just driven to Oren Soffer's house in Los Angeles and set up there!
My best reading on the sky quality meter was 21.73 at the zenith and the central star in the ring was easy in the 4mm eyepiece.
The breeze started about 10:00pm and it didn't stop. Nothing serious but it always seemed to move my dob just enough to constitute a chronic annoyance. I set up right on top of Don Pensack's spot but it just didn't help. I thought I couldn't lose with a Pensack pick but if his 12.5" truss dob was there it would have sailing through the parking lot with Don running after it! I even avoided John Sherman's "circle of death" that he draws around hid 22" dob and anybody setting up near it better get the heck away from it if they know what's best for them!
I hope I have better luck on Friday and Saturday when I go to the LAAS site in Lockwood Valley. My CG5 goto mount is going to be Floyd Blue hypertuned (beyond supercharging!) All of the gears are going to be laser-honed with a mirror-like microfinish, well beyond the tolerances of those Swiss-cheesy gears in those other so-called premium mounts. It's the least Floyd could do for me after my Wednesday evening wind encounter grin

January 17, 2009 05:32 AM Forum: After Dark

Mt Pinos conditions

Posted By Rod Kaufman

There's no snow at Lockwood valley but I don't know if the LAAS site will be open and it's difficult to find another site around there to set-up a scope. If you google the pine mountain club/mt pinos webcams, you'll see a boatload of snow on the north face of Pinos with the snow level listed at 7500 feet. The trouble is, a lot of idiots show up AFTER dark to play in the snow and, in doing so, illuminate the entire parking lot. I've been there and experienced the madness last year and I'd like to go up to Pinos this holiday weekend but I expect the same type of crazy behavior up at the parking lot, after sundown.

January 19, 2009 03:47 AM Forum: After Dark

Lockwood & Me & 70's Dark Skies

Posted By Rod Kaufman

Hey guys,
Here are two pictures (one link). Both were taken when the LAAS site first opened in Lockwood Valley in the 1970s. I believe I was in my late teens at that time. The scope you see is an 8" F6 Reflector that I built in a mirror-making class. The mount is an old Edmund unit that I purchased in the 60s or early 70s. I still have it. At that time, the LAAS site was not locked or gated and it was open to all. The second picture shows how dark the sky was at that time. As you can see, there is no sky glow. The camera that took this picture was mounted on the rear of my telescope and the rounded dark object you see at the bottom of the picture is the front of my telescope tube.
I sure miss those dark skies... wink

June 20, 2009 06:04 PM Forum: After Dark

Anybody Catch Jupiter on 6-19?

Posted By Rod Kaufman

While observing Jupiter at the LAAS site in Lockwood Valley on Friday June 19, I saw two Jovian moons emerging from opposite limbs of the planet. I'm not sure which ones they were, but while I was observing a tiny pimple of a moon emerge from edge of Jupiter, a short time later another emerged from the opposite edge of the planet. I've frequently sen one moon appear as a tiny pimple on one side of Jupiter but I haven't caught two emerging on different sides, one a short time after the other.
Cool! 8)

August 16, 2009 03:53 PM Forum: After Dark

Los Padres Forest Fire

Posted By Rod Kaufman

I was wondering where all of the smoke way up high was coming from, just in time to threaten new moon weekend.
It seems our friends from south of the border have been quite busy:
I don't think the clear sky clock takes into account forest fires...

September 17, 2009 09:16 PM Forum: After Dark

Mt Pinos Wed Sept 16

Posted By Rod Kaufman

Since I won't be able to observe over the weekend, and I had some available time on Wednesday night, I was able to view from Mt Pinos during midweek.
A few interesting developments: As those who are familiar with the site know, the summit is not accessible to vehicular traffic but it can be accessed by foot. There was quite a bit of truck traffic going up the dirt road, past the normally locked gate. I spoke to a contractor who informed me his company was installing new solar panels on the microwave relay station on top of the summit. The interesting point is that the relay station provides all of the communications between Edwards airforce base and Vandenberg and the space shuttles! I can understand why they keep the gate closed and locked as I'm sure they don't want anybody driving up there and messing with the site!
The contractor was curious about the scopes. Two other amateurs were present in addition to myself. I explained what we were doing and the contractor seemed impressed with our hobby.
Now to the observing report. First despite some breezy conditions, seeing and transparency were excellent. For those who know James and his 13" imaging cass on top of an AP mount, he recorded 1.3 star images sizes during the evening. The seeing was THAT good! I could watch the red spot revolve around Jupiter and, for the first time that I can recall, I actually observed some detail on one of Jupiter's moons. Another amateur attempted some images with a C-14, also on an AP mount, but became a bit frustrated because of the wind. That was unfortunate, because the breezes stopped after 1:00am and the conditions were quite stable until I finally hit the sleeping bag at 3:00am.
All in all, a great night, with many galaxies bagged and some great planetary detail, including Mars, visible at around 2:30am. The latter appeared slightly gibbous with surface detail evident despite its small apparent size.

October 21, 2009 03:54 PM Forum: After Dark

They're Lighting Up Mt Pinos

Posted By Rod Kaufman

I was up there last night, October 20, and I spoke to two separate groups of hikers who confirmed there were high intensity lights on with more poles and lights coming up at the summit. This is at the microwave relay station at the very top, approximately two mile north of the parking lot. In addition, there's a bulldozer up there with more construction on the way.
For those of you who are familiar with the parking lot, if you look at Polaris and sight below and to the right of it, in between the tree line, you can see bluish sky glow coming from the direction of the summit.
The zenith, at least for now, is still relatively good with decent contrast in the lanes of the milky way in Cygnus. The crescent and the veil still look very good. I took a sky quality meter reading at the zenith at 9:00pm and it was 21.20. Not too good but it would probably be better after midnight when some of the locals in Frazier Park and Pine Mountain club turn off their porch lights.
I got blown off the mountain last night by high winds that weren't predicted and I left after 9:00pm. Some cars arrived as I was packing up, probably to observe the Orionids which were supposed to put on the good show between 1-3:00am. The seeing and transparency was good but the windy conditions sucked, not to mention the light pollution >sad

October 21, 2009 05:06 PM Forum: After Dark

They're Lighting Up Mt Pinos

Posted By Rod Kaufman

I just called the forest service and inquired about the lighting. They're telling me the lighting is for there for emergency purposes and the forest services understands the problems with light pollution. It's for Edwards airforce base and the forest service thought the construction would be over by now but its not. I told the ranger that hundreds of amateurs use the parking lot for astronomical observations and he appeared to be sympathetic with regards to light pollution.
I sure hope the ranger is correct about the lighting being only for "emergency purposes only". I hope the contractors who are installing it know that...