Conspiracy Theories Anyone?

I’m not much for conspiracy theories, usually, but sometimes you just have to wonder.

Last Friday I received an email from the Pentax forum announcing their October contest was right up my alley: astrophotography. Naturally I have some pictures I could submit, but instead I decided to make this an excuse to get out and get some new astrophotos.

After some thought and work with Google Maps and Stellarium, I had the idea for my project and the location to set up at. Happily, the setup location was on a dirt turn-off from a nice paved road. A mere 45 to 60 minute drive would put me in place to set up and go to work.

So, I decided Sunday morning that I’d go out that evening to the spot, set up, take some pictures, and if necessary just verify that the shot I wanted was possible: high up on the canyon rim with a lit up dam below and the Milky Way above.

Then by Sunday afternoon I was tired and lazy. I decided not to go after all. Instead I’d go after work or next weekend, whatever. In the back of my mind was the thought: it’s clear tonight. If I don’t go, it’s going to cloud up on me until who knows when! After all, I do know better! That, however, just wasn’t enough to get me up and out there.

Sure enough, just as I knew it would if I didn’t go, the forecast is for cloudy days for the next ten days. That’s as far ahead as my app predicts, but who knows? The days have a light cloud prediction, with heavier cloud cover during the night. Friday is just nice and clear, but that’s three days out from today when I’m writing this so again, who knows? This is Idaho, after all, where the saying is ‘if you don’t like the weather just wait a few minutes.’

On top of that, Sunday while playing with Stellarium I’d been happy to note that the moonset nice and early. There’s two problems with that now…every night the moon set is later and later. On top of that, the moon is waxing, and likely will be at almost 50% with a moonset of 00:54 Saturday if I go on Friday night. Not only that, I have no choice but to wait until after moonset to get my picture: the moon sets just about where the Milky Way rises from the horizon. Why didn’t I just go Sunday like I planned?

It wouldn’t be a total loss, though. Opposite the moon I should have a chance at M42 the Great Nebula in Orion, NGC 2264 the Cone Nebula, M33 the Triangulum Galaxy, IC 1396 the Elephant Trunk, and M31 Andromeda Galaxy.  There’s plenty of other targets as well. I know I won’t get these as awesome Hubble equivalents, but it’ll be fun trying to expose for them. I’ve gotten M31 before, by accident; I was shooting for a particular Milky Way exposure and happened to notice I captured Andromeda as well.

Oh, and another thing…the Milky Way won’t be aligned exactly with the dam Friday night. It wasn’t Sunday and the angle is going to be a bit greater Friday. Still, Stellarium and Google Earth tell me it could still be a nice alignment…weather permitting.

Dammit, I shoulda gone Sunday!

I’ve got a great opportunity for sunsets with all these clouds, but some conspirator must be reading my files as I write. Last evening had no sunset, there was such a heavy overcast the day just faded from day to night.

Now if Friday will just co-operate….

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