reply to post by FosterVS
You would think cold weather would allow for better long distance photography, but I suspect the thermal distortion is due to temperature gradients
rather than absolute temperature. Even in the winter you get "wiggles" in the imagery.
When the Tikaboo weather station first went on line, I spent some time charting the temperature at the peak versus the temperature at the Medlin
ranch. What I noticed is the peak is warmer than the ranch at night. This seems totally counter intuitive and I should do the study again to make sure
the new weather station wasn't putting out bad data. What you would find is around 8AM, the ground and mountain temperatures would be about equal.
Then later in the day it was cooler on Tikaboo then on the ground. Obviously if I had temperature data for Groom Lake, it would use it instead of
When you camp out near Tikaboo, you can start the photography at stupid O clock. So I would do a few panoramas. But the panorama around 8AM was
usually the best.
Winter photography from Tikaboo has a few drawbacks. The sun angle is low in the winter, so it takes longer to get the sunlight path to clear the
mountains. That is, you have the sun at your back, but the base is still in the shadow. I think that makes greater thermal differences.
If you look at the DRI weather data, they plot the solar radiation. It looks like a flat spot (darkness) and then a curve with a peak at noon. But in
the winter, due to an overall lower sun angle (elevation), it takes longer to get significant daylight. So by the time 8AM rolls around, you don't
have significant light. In any season, the show is all over by 9AM. The thermals start to be significant, as well as the wind.
If you look at the various Groom Lake panoramas, you will note that some have the old A-12 hangars in shadow, and others are illuminated. Using Google
Earth to get the orientation of the hangars and the Navy astronomical data, I determined that there is a break point where the sun angle is such that
the front of the hangars will be illuminated by 8AM. This occurs in May.
I have done Tikaboo between March and November. Actually I didn't make it to the top in March due to snow. I recall it was in the high 20s deg F when
I started the hike. In April, there is much less snow, but you will find some patches. By May, the snow is gone. June is still tolerable regarding
heat, but you are getting into lightning season. (One more reason not to sleep at the top of the peak.) In July, the water requirement is around 9
liters. I've done in with 6 liters in May. August is peak lightning season. September is fine. October is dicey, and I think the sun angle no longer
lights the front of the A-12 hangars. I did November once after the Nellis expo. The temperature was a bit cold, but tolerable. However everything in
the tent was covered with condensation. Probably from my own breath. The camera and telescope were dry because I left them in the backpack. I had to
wipe off my scanners. Listening to the Groom VOR which also does ATIS, it went down to the negative single digits in degrees C. Maybe minus 5 or so. I
have a sleeping bag good to 20 deg F, down jacket, gloves, balaclava and thermal hat. You need them on the peak.
If you want to watch the base at night, you don't want it too cold just for comfort sake. You can watch the base with binoculars. I use the Navy
astronomical data to insure there is an hour at least between two hours after sunset and before the moon rises. That was there is enough darkness to
do a test.