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Favorite Viewing Sites

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#126 jpcannavo


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Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:00 PM

Very likely moving with my family and 16" F5 to Denver this summer. Wondering about Dark yet accessible locations within 2 hours of Denver?

#127 LateViewer



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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:26 PM

I only ran into this site tonight and think it is great.

Let me agree with someone along the thread that Stone Tavern Farm is really great.

I try to get there when I can.

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Love seeing the viewing sites from around the world

#128 Geoff M

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:01 PM

Kodachrome Basin State Park,Utah
Grandview Campground, Inyo National Forest,Ca
Kennedy Meadows,Southern Sierra Nevada,Ca
Are all dark,no light domes, fantastic viewing ,weather permitting.

Wow, Grandview and Kennedy Meadows are awesome! I've never been scopin' at Kennedy, but I've had some epic hikes there...had a couple of great nights at Grandview-first view of M82 thru an 18"dob-wowww!(image was holding decently at about 500x) I would like to add Eureka Valley, which is accessible from Big Pine, CA and splits off the road to Grandview(White Mountains/Westgard Pass). Not as high as Grandview (better spring/fall spot), but has darker skies. One night, Venus in the sky was really blowing out my night vision(lol), and I kept mistaking the Las Vegas light dome (120 miles away)for sunrise. Seeing is usually great, too(resolved individual stars one night in Omega Centauri at 7 deg. above horizon) and clouds seem to avoid Eureka when the surrounding areas are cloudy). Nobody ever goes there, either. Saw 3 cars total in 4 trips. Well worth the drive from Tahoe's fairly dark skies!

#129 Rich0000


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Posted 11 April 2013 - 10:23 PM

My wife and I have been traveling the country for the last four years after retirement. At present we are in the Davis Mnt. Region of Southwest Texas. I would have to say that this area has the darkest skies and the best atmospheric clarity I have observed from. The McDonald Observatory is near by and they "claim" the darkest skies in the continental U.S. The largest telescope in the northern hemisphere is located here for this reason. Number two would be the Apostle Island Area in northern Wisconsin. I have had many excellent nights observing there. Almost zero light pollution.
Celestron 9.25HD on A CGEM DX
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20x80 D3 Oberwerks Binoculars
90mm Seben Maksutov
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#130 csrlice12


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Posted 18 April 2013 - 01:20 PM

Very likely moving with my family and 16" F5 to Denver this summer. Wondering about Dark yet accessible locations within 2 hours of Denver?

The Denver Astro society has a dark site (blue zone) about 1hr 15 min East of town. It has cement pads (North aligned), power toilet, break shed and a domed obsevatory with a honker of an SCT on a Losmundy mount (must attend a training session before you can use). The DAS is a very active club. Also, be forewarned, Denver has scope store, S&S Optika, which hosts montly star parties where they pull out their display models and is open to the public. I know there's a good amount of my annual income in their cash register....Great store and people.

#131 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 08:42 AM

I like the Colebrook River Burying Ground in Colebrook, CT.

Heron Cove Park in Tolland is not bad, but you want to set up in the northernmost portion of the parking lot to avoid lights from the road.

White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield is good. One of the local astronomy groups (Mattatuck? Litchfield Astro Society?) has an observing field that they mow on a regular basis. You need to call/email White Memorial to ask to use the field, but they've never told me no.

The christmas tree field at the Goodwin Conservation Center is good as well, but you need to call to ask about using it.

#132 Starkid2u


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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:39 PM

Here in the NE, one of the gems for viewing is Cherry Springs State Park in north central Pennsylvania. Excellent dark-sky site built specifically for astronomical viewing. PA's first official Dark Sky Park! The sky can be mag 7 with mag 5-6 common. There are even TWO official star parties held there, the Cherry Springs Star Party in June and the Black Forest Star party, held in September. A must-see for every astronomer who lives in the Eastern half of the USA. I'm a long time astronomer who's done some traveling to star parties up and down the US eastern seaboard and as far west as Missouri but I always come back to Cherry Springs in the fall for a great star party and a fantastic tour of the darkest skies in the NE!

#133 okieav8r


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Posted 18 May 2013 - 12:35 PM

My favorite place to observe is the Black Mesa area in the far northwestern tip of the Oklahoma Panhandle. As true dark sky sites go, it's the closest one to where I live in central Oklahoma, so I try to get up there a few times a year, one of those times being to attend the Okie-Tex star party. Other times, I mostly observe at my folk's cattle ranch near Beggs, Oklahoma, and a few other sites closer to me that I frequent with my observing friends.

#134 the1andonlyfinn


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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:15 AM

Living in Southern California, I'd have to say Amboy Crater along old Route 66. Gas station 2 miles away w/ water, easy parking, and after 8PM, NOTHING. No sounds besides a passing BNSF train, no lights save for the old Roys sign. Minor light dome from Vegas, barely detectable in the NE. Omega Centauri resolved in bino's just 8degrees off the horizon, pipe and snake nebulae obvious, northern coalsack clear as day. My first sight of the Milky Way in full glory. Plus you get a volcano as a bonus!

#135 krp


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Posted 22 May 2013 - 02:38 PM

I found a good viewing site in Central Illinois, southwest of Peoria. It's called Spring Lake State Wildlife Area: http://goo.gl/maps/ZYkEf The northern sky isn't very good with Peoria's light pollution. And all but one of the parking lots have the western horizon obstructed with trees. But as you can see on the map, there is nothing to the south until Springfield, 50 miles away. So the view of the Milky Way is very good (for Illinois), and you can see it reflected on the lake. The boat launch on Spring Lake Rd. has a couple streetlights and there are some lighted houses near there too. But there are several parking lots off of State Park Rd. where you can set up and the lights are far enough away that they are not an issue. Here's a shot of the milky way over Spring Lake
Posted Image
Portrait of a Galaxy by kevin-palmer, on Flickr

More here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjF51Zft

#136 Smittty692k4



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Posted 16 June 2013 - 05:27 PM

How about "Most Dangerous" viewing site?
Between Laredo, Tx and Eagle Pass, Tx.

28*0'33"N, 99*49'35"W

Sure is pretty though. :grin:

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#137 BarbMoore


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Posted 17 June 2013 - 01:11 AM

Our astronomy group hosts a monthly star party at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park in south central NM but my favorite place to view from would have to be New Mexico Skies.

#138 youngamateur42


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Posted 17 June 2013 - 04:50 AM

On the dark side of the moon of course! :)

#139 celtictexan



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Posted 17 June 2013 - 04:56 AM

I totally understand the dangerous part. The last time I was at BigBend NP there were signs everywhere cautioning against leaving a car unattended or hiking or camping without being in a big group. The only rangers I saw anywhere were in the offices. And the sky is so dark. Sad:(

#140 WStewart


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Posted 17 June 2013 - 10:59 AM

I totally understand the dangerous part. The last time I was at BigBend NP there were signs everywhere cautioning against leaving a car unattended or hiking or camping without being in a big group. The only rangers I saw anywhere were in the offices. And the sky is so dark. Sad:(

That is sad to hear. It's been several years since I've made the trip to Big Bend, and I've been wondering if conditions there had changed with respect to safety.

At least Davis Mountains State Park is a little further away from the border.

#141 mak17


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Posted 13 September 2013 - 08:49 PM

+1 for the Chiefland Astronomy Village. Unobstructed views, bathroom, its safe, great group of regulars with big scopes, and mag 6.9 skies at last measure. Lots of parks nearby to hike and explore in the daytime. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve near Okeechobee is another good bortle 3 site with an astronomy pad with rv hookups and power. Nearby bathrooms too. Some good hiking trails during the day.

#142 esd726



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Posted 14 September 2013 - 01:00 PM

Only place I have ever observed, with anything more than naked eye, for over 30 yrs.....my backyard. Different house now, but still only in backyard

#143 immonacan


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Posted 15 September 2013 - 10:47 AM

While my former residence in western NY, near Lake Ontario (out in the sticks) was decent... my favorites ... were in the higher hills in state lands of the NY southerntier, and even better, was remote higher elevations of the Adirondack Park. The best so far, was the area (and star party location, itself) around Cherry Hill Springs SP, in the northern PA wilds. I was pleasantly surprised, while camping once in the middle of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.. just how dark the sky was. No disturbing sky glow, from either Philly or Atlantic City. Did not take a scope with me, but sure enjoyed some good binocular astronomy.

#144 jdown


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Posted 27 September 2013 - 12:50 PM

My astronomy spot is 7579' in the New Mexico Rockies, near the CO border (36 44 36 N; 106 30 25 W). With no lights around, it offered great views in May & June before our monsoon season. Now it is even better - the monsoon rains have cleared the sky of any dust & smoke. A few nights ago the Milky Way was stunning - bright clouds of stars stretching from horizon to horizon.
The only drawback to a place like this is that it spoils you for anything less.

#145 Starry Jan

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 05:14 PM

Dave, since you are an East Coaster, if you were 5 hours from Cherry Springs and 8 hours from Spruce Knob, would you go to Spruce Knob for the experience, or just go back to Cherry Springs?

#146 Starman1


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Posted 11 October 2013 - 05:38 PM

Dave, since you are an East Coaster, if you were 5 hours from Cherry Springs and 8 hours from Spruce Knob, would you go to Spruce Knob for the experience, or just go back to Cherry Springs?

If you look at the LP maps for both, they are equivalently as dark, except the Spruce Knob area also has a few pockets of Grey zone (darker) in the middle of the dark blue "pocket".
I'd be willing to bet that which one was darker would depend a lot on local conditions, such as water vapor in the air, low clouds over nearby cities, etc.
I'd be tempted to plant myself in the middle of one of the grey zone pockets at Spruce Knob. But both are really long drives for you unless you're planning to stay 2 nights.

Meanwhile, out West here in SoCal, Mt. Pinos has finally been downgraded to a dark green LP site instead of blue. That's correct, unfortunately.
So we, too, are getting to need a 3-4 hour drive to reach dark blue or grey zone sites. And our local Blue and Grey zones are threatened. They too will go into green if the construction plans in Arizona for LCD billboards along the 10 corridor comes to pass and/or if the multi-megawatt Solar generating stations go in.
I can see us needing to drive 5 to 8 hours to get to a dark site in only a couple years. :bawling:

#147 dtripz


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Posted 13 October 2013 - 02:19 AM

Spruce knob is significantly darker then Cssp, however the weather there is very unpredictable, had three nights which were supposed to be great transparency wound up being clouded over. It's also much more remote and makes Cssp seem civilized.

#148 nexguy



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Posted 16 October 2013 - 09:25 PM

I drive about an hour outside of my town deep in to rural Texas. Bortle scale darkness of about 2. It's a public dirt road that leads to the opening of a ranch. Only distant house lights visible and cow moos to be heard.

#149 woodscavenger


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Posted 17 October 2013 - 01:05 PM

About 25 min south of me I am on the edge of black at Swan Falls reservoir. It sits on the edge of the Snake River Canyon. Toilets, large parking area, but no power. Nearly deserted road with minimal drive by white light. Great views in all direction but especially good to the south where the milky way touches the earth. Our club meets out there 1-2 times/month.

#150 John Higbee

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 08:32 AM

Just found this thread...some great information here!

I was surprised that none of the "East Coasters" mentioned the Northern Neck of Virginia (the peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, and Chesapeake Bay). There is a broad swath of blue/dark green (Bortle class 3) dark sky conditions stretching from northeastern Northumberland County (Smith Point) southwestward into Lancaster County and the Rappahannock. This area is an hour from Richmond, two hours from Norfolk, and 2 1/2 hours from DC.

I've owned property in that zone for several years now, and the seeing is superb!


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