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Favorite Viewing Sites

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#1 csa/montana

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 10:33 AM

Hi Folks: Post your favorite viewing sites to share with others, right here!

#2 Maureen

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 10:54 AM

Aside from star parties whose sites are available elsewhere, my favorite site is in Maine. I go here every fall for a two week astronomy vacation. Use of a scope (or two?) comes with the cottage.
Here's the CSC for the place.
Maureen

#3 jpcannavo

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 11:20 AM

Cool spot Maureen - and not to far for me in NYC! Check out Stone Tavern Inn below
It would be awesome if we could make this work as a sticky thread. We could include here include information on places around the country featuring dark skies, excellent seeing, lodging with observing equipment etc, astronomy B&Bs, dark sky parks, etc. - or even safe friendly dead end roads in dark country. Personally, I drove cross country twice with a telescope. By trial and error I came upon observing sites of varying utility from Cherry Springs Pennsylvania to Death Valley Calf. A resource like this would have been invaluable then, and remain so for so many of us who travel to observe.
BTW how many, for example, are aware of these places:
http://www.stonetave..._Home_Page.html
http://www.stellarca...es/darksky.html
http://www.arizona-dreaming.com/
There are many more, but you have to dig around the web to find them
(spent a week at last place on the list...awesome!)
To quote TG, "make it work!"
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#4 Maureen

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 11:29 AM

Yes Joseph it is a really great spot and speaking from a woman's perspective, the cottage is adorable and has lots of "stuff" that women tend to like - like beautiful sheets, towels, dishes, wine glasses, appliances etc. There isn't a woman alive who wouldn't love you to death for taking her to such a beautiful place. That will make it much easier for you to go out each night "guilt free" and observe. The bad news is that I'm booked for the next 50 years for two weeks every Sept. (or occasionally Oct. which is still very mild)

And yes I have been to Stone Tavern Farm for several star parties. Am hoping to make it up there with some friends in May for some galaxy gazing.

Will check out the other places you mention. Thanks for the info.
Maureen

#5 TMK

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 12:20 PM

Well, anyone living in Connecticut can appreciate how far one must go to find darker skies. There is not a green zone in the entire state and only small patches of yellow zone.

Wedged between Boston and New York with Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford etc all adding to the problem there is one place I found thats actually quite nice all things considered but best yet its only about fifteen minutes from my house.

The site is the same place the New Haven Astronomical Society holds one of thier public observing sessions. The allure of this site is it resides in a town with a pretty strict lighting ordinance which has made a big difference.

There are no stray light sources at this site and the sky looks pretty amazing to me from this Orange zone location. The Milky Way can be seen in the summer month's. It's more than just I think I can see it, it's quite apparent and pretty amazing from this locale.

That Location is Youngs Pond Park located in Branford, CT. Pretty good spot considering how far I'd have to go to do any better.

So anyone along the shoreline of Connecticut might find this site of intrest and I do visit there to observe a few times a year.

#6 StarGeazer

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 02:29 PM

Being in north western Virginia, I try to get to Sky Meadows State Park a couple of times a year (yellow/green) near Paris, Virginia. I am planning a weekend trip to Spruce Mountain WV, near Cherry Grove, WV. It is a black/clear area >4000ft high. There is an educational facility there that provides camping and some facilities. It's one of the Mountain Institutes properties.

#7 hfjacinto

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:08 PM

I observe at Jenny Jump state forest. UACNJ has its dark site there. On Saturday anyone can observe, any other time, you have to be a member but for $35 a year, you have access to a dark site that is safe and has power.

There are no facilities at the site for nonmembers, but the park does have camping sites.

www.uacnj.org

#8 mountain monk

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:24 PM

Den Mama:

I think this is a great idea of a thread along lines suggested above. It would be a particular benefit for travelers. Nearly 4 million people visit Yellowstone/Grand Teton every year and I've often thought of putting together a list of sites here that I've found rewarding over the years.

Thanks.

Dark skies.

mm

#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:34 PM

Hi Folks: Post your favorite viewing sites to share with others, right here!


Thinking on it, my favorite, favorite spot is the Navajo National Monument hidden away up near the Utah border at 7300 feet elevation, the skies are black and clear.

Navajo National Monument

There are two campgrounds, the Sunset which has paved spots and flush toilets and the Canyon View where we stay which is more primitive with clean latrines and garbage cans. We make at least one trip a year...

Another favorite is the Valley of the Gods, about 50 miles to the east on BLM land. This is primitive camping, you haul out what you haul in. There is a bed and breakfast at the Valley of the Gods...

Valley of the Gods Bread and Breakfast

Both these places are very dark, there are faint light domes visible from the small indian communities. At the Valley of the Gods one can see a dome to the south that is from Chinle, a town of 5000 people about 50 miles to the south.

Jon

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#10 KennyJ

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 03:48 PM

What wonderful idea for a thread .

This one ought to become a " sticky " RIGHT AT THE TOP of this forum , with a notice on the entry page or somewhere prominent , making all members aware of it's existence !

Kenny

#11 genedalton

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 04:01 PM


Hello Carol, I bet your favorite is your backyard, I've found that is my favorite now. Camera assisted viewing has helped me fight these urban lights and of course the backyard is sooo convenient. GeneD

#12 TMK

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 04:07 PM

Jon.

Thats just amazing :bow: I simply cannot imagine how beautiful the night sky would look.

#13 jpcannavo

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 05:50 PM

Jon
Great Stuff! These are the kinds of gems I had in mind!

#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 06:04 PM

Jon
Great Stuff! These are the kinds of gems I had in mind!


Tom and Joe...

Here's a photo of the Valley of the Gods. I imagine when you are on the east coast it is hard to imagine places like this exist... maybe they help keep the dream alive, they do for me.

Jon

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#15 mountain monk

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 06:52 PM


Ninety-five percent is a black sky zone, the remainder is a gray zone. Most of the roads are 5,500 to 7,000 feet.

There are three campgrounds, with no reservations. Cedar Mesa, in the far south, is primitive, picnic table and outhouse, but is free! So is the one in the Cathedral Valley, at the very north end--also primitive. Check road conditions with the Visitor Center.

The main campground, in Fruita, has 70 sites and is embedded in orchards--cherry, apricot, peach, and apple. In late spring they are in full bloom. In the autumn you can collect the fruit. And it's cheap: $10 a night, $5 for us old folks. The only problem is that some wonderful ladies run a pie and jam store next to the campground and it is all too tempting to spend a lot of time there. No phone connections, but there is a coffee shop in Torrey (on the right as you enter town, in a mini mall) with good coffee and you can check your CSC there.

The park has a summer astronomy program and several of the rangers can direct you to good spots. I usually drive south from the main campground. There are side roads toward Grand Wash and Capital Wash (both with multiple nice hikes) and little pull-offs along the way that are not visited at night (don't drive far into the washes, you'll cut off your views!, already a problem to the east). To fully escape people I drive to the end of the road where it crosses Pleasant Creek. There is a large turnout to the right next to an old corral. DON'T TRY TO GO FARTHER--SERIOUS FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE, STARTING WITH THE CREEK BED. If you have 4x4, then head south and eventually west to Brown Reservoir (7,800 feet) where there is a campground--el remoto!--and access to the main highway, Route 12, between Torrey and Boulder. There is a CSC for Boulder; it's the one I check.

I've been going there for fifty years, and if I could have I would have bought property the first time I saw it. It's my wife's favorite trip away from the Tetons.

Unfortunately, there is major highway construction from now into July. But...autumn is less crowded anyway.

Enjoy!

Dark skies.

mm

#16 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 07:11 PM

Capital Reef National Park.



Capital Reef is a wonderful place. I remember standing on at a viewpoint where the sign read:

"The average summer visibility from this point is 156 miles."

That 156 miles is far enough that if the earth were flat, you could see Navajo Mountain and the Navajo National Monument and a whole lot more .. Some big, beautiful country.

Jon

#17 hbanich

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 07:12 PM

Steens Mountain.

Located in southeastern Oregon, it sits near the middle of the largest remaining black zone in the US. The best places to observe are near Fish Lake around 7400 feet altitude where the air is usually very dry and transparent. If you like to fish, Fish Lake is a good spot for that too.

I like the wildness of the Steens as well as the beautiful skies. The day time views of the geology are worth the trip by themselves and I always make time to drive up to the summit at 9900 feet. The best time of year to go is July through mid-October only because that's the when the road is clear of snow. I'd love to be up there this time of year though - maybe rent a heavy lift helicopter to drop me and my gear for a week or so...

http://www.blm.gov/o.../steens-mtn.php

#18 HfxObserver

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 07:57 PM

Here is one of my sites, most look the same here but they all vary a bit. I think these horizons are hard to beat!

Wascana Basin Saskatchewan

#19 Tim A.

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 11:33 PM

Use Google Earth to view attached KMZ. Several sites in Colorado, one in NM, annotated for astronomers (some more fully than others).

Edit: Sorry, the board won't accept KMZ files. See attached ZIP, which is just the KMZ in a zipped up.

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#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 04:50 AM

Here is one of my sites, most look the same here but they all vary a bit. I think these horizons are hard to beat!

Wascana Basin Saskatchewan


Nice horizons but doesn't all that sand tend to mess up the works? :)

Jon

#21 jpcannavo

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 06:38 AM

Being in north western Virginia, I try to get to Sky Meadows State Park a couple of times a year (yellow/green) near Paris, Virginia. I am planning a weekend trip to Spruce Mountain WV, near Cherry Grove, WV. It is a black/clear area >4000ft high. There is an educational facility there that provides camping and some facilities. It's one of the Mountain Institutes properties.

I have always been confused about the Spruce Mt situation. There is CMOR but there are also other potential observing sites nearby?
Joe

#22 ArizonaScott

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:08 AM

Top of Mingus Mountain, central Arizona, near Prescott. That's the magical spot for me. I happened to sneak out of the tent in the middle of night to take a peek at the sky and was shocked to see M33 with the naked eye and well as many other deep-sky beauties.

#23 Maureen

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:09 AM

Use Google Earth to view attached KMZ. Several sites in Colorado, one in NM, annotated for astronomers (some more fully than others).


Tim what is an attached KMZ? I don't see any attachments in your post. Could you point me in the right direction?
Thanks,
Maureen

#24 Maureen

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:44 AM

This is just a suggestion, but I would find it helpful, when folks list their favorite viewing sites, if they would mention something about accommodations. It would be helpful to know if it's a site for tent camping only, or RV's, or if there are nearby places to stay.
Thanks,
Maureen

#25 mountain monk

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 10:00 AM


Maureen,

That's a reasonable request.

Re Capital Reef... There are no commercial accommodations inside the park, just camping and RV spots. Torrey has the usual Best Western motels/hotels in town, and some old, rather shabby ones too. A nice alternative is Pine Shadows Cabins in Teasdale, the town next to Torrey. They are modern, relatively inexpensive @100$, and nicely appointed. No black skies though, probably blue?

Dark skies.

mm






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