Favorite Viewing Sites
Posted 08 April 2011 - 10:08 AM
Posted 08 April 2011 - 10:53 AM
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.
The credit goes to member jpcannavo for the suggestion!
Posted 08 April 2011 - 02:44 PM
For suburban viewing or when the moon is out several of us go out to Union County College in Cranford NJ by the Sun Dial at Sperry Observatory, not a dark sky but a nice place to set-up.
Posted 08 April 2011 - 02:52 PM
- Vesper818 likes this
Posted 08 April 2011 - 03:15 PM
Posted 08 April 2011 - 06:53 PM
Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:50 PM
This is the nearest dark sky site to my home, I'm sure we will make a few trips there this year!
Posted 09 April 2011 - 01:14 AM
My apologies. The board won't accept raw KMZ files, for whatever reason. I zipped the KMZ and attached it to the original, and also here. Note that you need Google Earth to open a KMZ file (and something to unzip the attachment; recent Windows versions do that for you).
Tim what is an attached KMZ? I don't see any attachments in your post.
Sites in Colorado, and one in NM. Not all the good sites, by a long shot, just a few I've enjoyed. Aside from the ones near cities (Fort Collins, esp.), all are remote. I've had my popup at all of them (excepting near town). I made notes where large RVs might encounter trouble.
Posted 09 April 2011 - 02:24 AM
Clear skies to you.
Posted 10 April 2011 - 01:45 AM
1. Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah. This site is wonderful to the south, southwest and west. The SLC light dome impacts the north-eastern view. Zenith is also wonderful. Blue zone with gray very close nearby. It gets cold here and in the summer it is cool at night. I have seen newer observers leave early because they arrive in shorts and tee shirts because it is the desert. This site can also get very humid so if you have dew heaters, I would bring them. Here are some links to 3 images from the site on March 31st, 2011:
Pit n Pole 1
Pit n Pole 2
Direction on how to get there:
Directions to Pit n Pole/RushValley
Directions with links to more pictures from my blog:
Pit n Pole directions with image links
Pit n Pole is on BLM land and ATM's and motorcycles use the general area but I have never had an issue with them. It's just over an hour from Salt Lake City or 45 minutes from my home. You can camp and in the summer there are portable potties around but none in the observing area.
Here is an image a friend took at the Pit n Pole location of the summer Milky Way. I've posted it before but it won't hurt.
2. Lakeside Utah. About 1.5 to 2 hours west of Salt Lake City, the eastern sky is impacted by the Salt Lake area light dome. The south-west sky is lightly impacted by the Wendover light dome. Overall very dark skies, bordering on gray. Terrific site in late spring through fall. Muddy in the winter.
Directions: Interstate 80 West from Salt Lake City area to exit 62. Take exit 62 and at the end of the off ramp turn right at the stop sign. Cross over the cattle guard and continue going left at the frontage road sign (do not go right or you'll be lost). Follow that road out until you come to a BLM sign that says Eagle Range and an arrow going straight and then two arrows pointing left to Well #78 and Big Canyon. Turn left on the dirt road there and about 1/8 of a mile is a right turn with a 8 foot embankment. Turn in there and then drive toward the back of that and that is where we set up. No facilities at all, and your a good 30-40 miles from a service station. Camping does occur with many of us just sleeping on padding in the back of our trucks or SUV's. It does get cool here even in the summer with lows in the 40's, and in the spring and fall easily in the low 30's if not the 20's.
Directions again are available with pictures (no links on this one) at my blog located here.
3. Wolf Creek Pass, Utah.
My favorite site by far and it is the farthest for me at about 1 1/2 hours drive. If you live in the Salt Lake Area it is just over an hour away. There is a camp ground but you pay to use it and it has facilities. Where we observe you can also camp, it is U.S. Forest Service land and in Utah you can camp on U.S. Forest Service land or BLM land. If you camp where you observe there are no facilities there. This is a high mountain location at 9800 feet and it gets cold at night, even in the summer. You can also get an evening thunderstorm from time to time so be prepared for that. It is very, very beautiful and if you stay over, you can hike around and take pictures, or just rest up in a tent.
Directions and pictures included on my blog located here.
Directions with no images to Wolf Creek Pass Observing Area:
Wolf Creek Pass Observing Site Directions
4. Notch Peak and Great Basin National Park. West (very west) Desert of Utah: Outstanding site, probably some of the darkest skies in the United States. If you camp over and you can choose to camp in campgrounds with facilities or off the beaten path on BLM land, there is nothing out here. Have plenty of water, an excellent spare tire and in ALL of these locations know how to use them as the roads up to the sites are dirt and/or gravel and flats can be common. This is on the way to Great Basin National Park, where Ranger Kelly Carroll is an outstanding person to work and observe with. Anyway you can hike at Notch Peak if your staying over.
Let me state you don't observe from up top, but you can drive up to a decent height and except for a far distant light dome from Delta, Ut, about 50 miles away. If your interested in this, you can observe at night, camp on the BLM land and then hike around the next day if you want to take in the view. Very hot and dry here. Have water and a spare!
Great Basin National Park
Great Basin is an outstanding park with amenities and is very dark and doesn't have the overall visitors that Bryce or some of the other southern Utah parks get. Plenty to do in the day too at Great Basin and Lehman's Cave is great as is Wheeler Peak. Baker is near the park with immensities.
5. Big Springs Park, Utah, about 35 minutes east of Provo Utah. Decent site, mountains impact views below 30 degrees (who wants to look there anywhere) but zenith is pretty good. You can run into weekend party youth but I've never had a problem. They usually leave really quick.
Google Map of Big Springs Creek
Directions: Big Springs Park
Travel up Provo Canyon. Turn right at Vivian Park. Travel through Vivian park approximately 3.3 miles. Turn right into Big Springs Park. Travel through the park to the upper parking lot.
6. The Wedge Overlook. This is a wonderful site also. No LP, no impact and wonderful day time scenery. Known as Utah's Little Grand Canyon is a secret that perhaps I shouldn't share. Once there stay at campground 8. It is a LONG dirt road out there, have plenty of liquid and again a spare that is properly inflated and know how to change your tires. There are rude amenities but no towns nearby. Bring in what you take out and bring in food and water.
Directions and images I've compiled over at my blog can be found in this link.
If you don't want to go to the blog then here is a map:
Map to the Wedge Overlook
From Salt Lake City: Head south on Interstate 15 to the Spanish Fork area and take exit 258 for State Highway 6 heading towards Price (BE VERY CAREFUL on Hwy 6. It is a very dangerous road through the canyon. I mean very careful). Continue on Hwy 6 to Price and in Price take exit 241 towards Castle Dale. Merge onto Hwy 10 S/S Carbon Ave. Turn left onto Hwy 155 S and continue on S. Center St to Flat Bus Loop and go left. After 0.1 mile turn right towards Buffalo Rd or County Road 332. Go 3.2 miles to Buffalo Rd and turn left. Go 4.3 miles and continue straight as the road becomes Buckhorn Draw Rd or Co. Rd 332 still. After 5.2 miles Buckhorn Draw Rd becomes Fullers Bottom Rd. Continue straight until the dirt road has a slight fork and stay left at Co Rd. 405/Wedge Rd. Continue 3.9 miles and then stay to the right stay on Co. Rd 405/Wedge Road. Your about 3.5 miles out and you'll pass the campgrounds and we always use campground 8.
There is a video on YouTube that I've linked on driving out to The Wedge from Castle Dale.
Finally a year or so ago a member of our astronomy club took some information I had put together with his own and put it on this google map. These are not by far every site to observe and I've left some good ones off like Monte Cristo and Cooley Reservoir or up by This is the Place Monument and some personal sites. Hope this helps someone.
Posted 10 April 2011 - 08:59 AM
and viewing either naked eye, binoculars, or scopes;
dark skies above, beautiful nature below, family with me.
Posted 10 April 2011 - 01:49 PM
The fastest way to darkness from the Chicago metro area (assuming you're reasonably near the city itself) is due south. Thus my favorite site is the Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area down the Illinois/Indiana border. It's 80 miles from my southside Chicago apartment and is in a yellow zone (green zone on the snow-corrected map). It's forested, so the horizons aren't great, but every time I go I try a different spot to see where I can get the best horizons.
Posted 10 April 2011 - 02:13 PM
2 1/2 hours east of Vancouver.
Posted 10 April 2011 - 02:53 PM
Posted 10 April 2011 - 06:25 PM
Posted 10 April 2011 - 07:02 PM
Altitude 8350' (2550m)
Black asphalt parking lot--about 2 acres.
Clear Sky Chart:
Accommodations: a couple porta-potties, but no trash receptacles: "pack it in, pack it out". No tents allowed in the parking lot, but there is a camping area a couple hundred yards off the parking lot.
Picture (looking south from northern-most point in lot):
Posted 10 April 2011 - 09:12 PM
Excellent post. I haven't been to Wolf Creek yet, but I'll be sure to make the trip at least once this year. Great info.
Posted 10 April 2011 - 11:50 PM
My current favorite viewing site in the middle of Kansas. I had the chance to get there Monday for another fantastic night out with my ghostly friends.
Ah! It was in the middle of Kansas where I first realized there was a Milky Way! Specifically, in my childhood backyard at 333 Sunset Drive in Salina KS, circa 1949. Looking up with my Dad, and later with my bride (1966), changed my life....
Posted 11 April 2011 - 10:51 AM
Posted 11 April 2011 - 02:14 PM
I've been to some great dark sites in Arizona and New Mexico and have also observed from the Bolivian Altiplano. As far as the East Coast is concerned, Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania and Dolly Sods and Spruce Knob in West Virginia are the best dark sites that I've experienced. I've also enjoyed observing from the Stellafane grounds in Vermont and West Summerland Key (the Winter Star Party) and Chiefland in Florida. There are four "local" sites ranging from an hour to two hours away that have fairly dark skies and a number of others that aren't quite as good.
Posted 11 April 2011 - 04:55 PM
Ah! It was in the middle of Kansas where I first realized there was a Milky Way! Specifically, in my childhood backyard at 333 Sunset Drive in Salina KS, circa 1949. Looking up with my Dad, and later with my bride (1966), changed my life.... [/quote]
Hey, Keith. My site is a few miles north of Sylvan Grove, Ks. There is a very small light dome to the east which is Salina and an even smaller one west which is Hays. I bet the skies in 1949 and 1966 were better than what I see now.
Posted 14 April 2011 - 05:14 AM
My favorites viewing spot is going camping to any state or national park with dark skies
and viewing either naked eye, binoculars, or scopes;
dark skies above, beautiful nature below, family with me.
Driving from Cody Wyoming, through Buffalo Bill State Pk, towards Yellowstone; there is a highway that winds along Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Lots of places to turn off the road, get away from the occasional car headlight and observe. There is a light domes to the east, from Cody, but to the south and west the skies are close bortle 2-3. I had one memorable night parked next to the water, alone, observing objects in Scorpio and Sagittarious with a 10" Dob.
Posted 21 April 2011 - 10:08 AM
as their dark-sky site. What a great site CSC of the Fak.
No bathrooms or electric just bushes and lil' deep lakes bordering the roads we view on :o
My sister's backyard on the outskirts of Pinedale,Wyo.
And my friends backyard in GoldenGate,FL cause the condo people here at home put
up a string of white xmas lights around the pool area