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#176 Catapoman

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 02:00 PM

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!

John


I've observed across the Potomac from the Northern Neck. This was at Point Lookout State Park at the south end of St. Mary's County. The sky there is blue/green. Too bad there is no good area to set up at the south end. It is ruined by a historic lighthouse with outdoor lights on all night. Best I've seen is a camping site that can be rented at a lake.

Sometimes I've thought about going to the Northern Neck to check out that area. I can see from the light pollution maps that it should be pretty dark. I've never heard about any active astronomers there until now. I'll have to see if there are opportunities for observing at the parks and other locales on the Northern Neck. Renting a cabin with access to dark skies would be nice.

My usual observing site is in Tuckahoe State Park on the Eastern Shore. Not the darkest at yellow/green, but it is the closest for me. That does count for something.

Mike


We have friends that have a house in this area right on the Potomac, just before it dumps into the Bay. It's right across from the Point Lookout SP that Mike mentioned. The skies there are very nice and I look forward to viewing anytime we're invited out there. Our friends get a kick out of viewing too.

#177 Sarkikos

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 03:17 PM

Too bad there doesn't seem to be any organized astronomy clubs that go to the darkest areas on the Northern Neck.

There is a Rappahannock Astronomy Club located to the northwest of the Northern Neck. But they seem to mostly go to yellow zone sites - judging from their website - with the exception of Big Meadows, which is a good drive even for them.

I would think that they'd try to get something organized with Belle Isle State Park on the Rappahannock, a nice green zone site that's in their own backyard. Go figure.

Unless I can go to a green/blue site along the lower Rappahanock, Potomac or on the Bay Side of Northern Neck, I don't see much use to it. For me, a yellow/green site is within an hour's drive on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have access to that site anytime the sky is clear.

From what I can see, it seems that both Northern Neck and the south end of St. Mary's County are still undeveloped for amateur astronomy. What a shame. I guess I could always buy some property down there for when I retire. Even a few empty acres would be nice ... as long as I can keep the hunters off.

:grin:
Mike

#178 cwilson

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 12:55 AM

While I do most of my observing nearby, I also use Lake Hall which is public land and has nice dark skies, or Copper Breaks State Park in Texas.

#179 joaoba

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 11:02 AM

We spent Memorial Day weekend at a black sky site in SW Montana called Horse Prairie. The first night was cloudy, but Sunday night gave us clear mag 8 skies. I spent some time hunting down galaxies and nebulae, but was mostly content just to walk around and take in the constellations. I was surprised how many objects I could see with naked eye. Hopefully we can return later this summer... it was a memorable spot.

#180 cwilson

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 04:53 PM

We spent Memorial Day weekend at a black sky site in SW Montana called Horse Prairie. The first night was cloudy, but Sunday night gave us clear mag 8 skies. I spent some time hunting down galaxies and nebulae, but was mostly content just to walk around and take in the constellations. I was surprised how many objects I could see with naked eye. Hopefully we can return later this summer... it was a memorable spot.


I find that the darker the sky the more time I spend just laying back and taking in the beauty of the sky naked eye, or sweeping around with binos. The scope doesn't get as much use as it does under lesser conditions.

#181 gmartin02

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 04:54 PM

Here is a list of my favorite sites I have had the good fortune to observe from, in order of awesomeness:

 

1. Salar de Atacama, Chile (near San Pedro de Atacama) - elevation 8000 ft.- super dark skies, high elevation, excellent transparency, good seeing - was there in 2002

 

2. Elqui valley, Chile (inland from La Serena) - elevation 4100 ft.- very dark skies, excellent transparency, sub-arcsecond seeing (the best seeing I have ever encountered) - the only negative, horizons cut off by mountains.- was there in 2006

 

3. Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station - Hawaii - elevation 9200 ft.- very dark skies, excellent transparency, arcsecond seeing - was there in 1991 (I was also on the Big Island in Jan '14, but it too cold and windy up the mountain)

 

US mainland:

 

4. Kanab Plateau, UT (20 miles east of Kanab) - elevation 5700 ft.- very dark skies, good transparency, above average seeing - beautiful country - was there in 2003

 

Within about 4 hours driving distance from home near Los Angeles basin (semi regular sites):

 

5. Eureka Valley, north edge of Death Valley NP - elevation 3300 ft.- very dark skies, good transparency, above average seeing - the darkest site within 4 hours of home - a cool season site (way too hot in the summer)

 

6. near Badger Flat, Inyo Mountains, CA - (4WD vehicles only) - elevation 8600 ft.- very dark skies, good transparency, decent seeing - beautiful view of the Sierra Nevada range in the daytime - can be windy.

 

7. Grandview Campground, White Mountains, CA - elevation 8500 ft.- very dark skies, good transparency, decent seeing - a little brighter than Badger Flat, but still great

 

8. Lee Flat, SW corner of Death Valley NP - - elevation 5300 ft.- fairly dark skies, good transparency, decent seeing - brighter than the previous 2 sites, but still pretty darn dark, and a little closer to home (3 hour drive).

 

Notes: All of these sites have 2 things in common - some to a lot of elevation, and far away from light domes.

 

Also, many of these sites are very beautiful in the day time as well.



#182 gmartin02

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 04:55 PM

I have pictures taken from several of these sites on the morning after observing sessions, so, for fun, here are some of the pictures:

 

1. Salar de Atacama, Chile - Chaxa (home to Chilean Flamingos)

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Edited by gmartin02, 19 August 2014 - 04:55 PM.


#183 gmartin02

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:01 PM

2. Elqui Valley, Chile

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#184 gmartin02

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:03 PM

6. near Badger Flat, Inyo Mountains, CA - Wonderful panorama of the Sierras & Mt. Whitney 

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#185 gmartin02

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:05 PM

7. Grandview Campground, White Mountains, CA - this is actually the "Noren" group camp

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#186 gmartin02

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:07 PM

8. Lee Flat, SW corner of Death Valley NP - the largest concentration of Joshua Trees in the Park

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#187 NorthWolf

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 06:58 PM

Anyone know a dark site within an hour of Montreal I can just go and park and maybe even put up a tent and stay overnight?

#188 cosmicmeow

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 01:15 PM

Anyone know of any observing sites in Southern Louisiana? I want to go out this weekend and try out my new scope but I don't know of many good spots.



#189 Menefist

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Posted 22 September 2014 - 06:00 PM

In NY:

 

ADKs are actually the darkest spot in NY State, especially in the western part. There is a camp ground that has reasonable sky wide opening and not a lot of campsites, it's called Brown Tract Pond Campground.

closer to NYC there is Western Catskill region. With Stone Tavern Farm ( only on weekdays available ) and a bunch of other farms near there in Roxubury and Bovina ( Green Shepherd Farm ) precisely .

I try to avoid road side sites as I like to set up pretty spread out and most of dirt roads out in NY are surrounded by private land.
A good one in case you are interested is called State road ( google 42.163759, -74.806399 )

these are some of my favourite spots.



#190 LivingNDixie

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 02:53 PM

Has anyone tried Little River Canyon in northern Alabama?

#191 mogur

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 04:52 PM

Blackhawk Park in western WI on the Mississippi River. It has a variety of campsites with some being in a very open area. Barges going by, and bird wildlife are a couple attractions I like. It's in a "blue" designated LP zone too!

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#192 mogur

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 05:21 PM

8. Lee Flat, SW corner of Death Valley NP - the largest concentration of Joshua Trees in the Park

 

Boy, I envy you Greg. You've been to a great variety of nice spots. And during the day there's just as much to see! :bigshock:



#193 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 October 2014 - 01:10 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?

 

Unfortunately, I just ran across your post.  

 

It's about a 5.5-hour-drive for me to reach the summit of Spruce Knob.  I can get to CSSP in about 3.25 hours, if I push it a bit.

 

If the weather forecast is very solid, I do recommend going to the summit of Spruce Knob at least once.  Keep in mind that it's a 13-mile-drive uphill from the eastern side of the Knob to reach the summit and that there are no facilities there other than a pit toilet and garbage bins.  The view from the top is fantastic, however.  

 

Setting up at the lower end of the parking lot is essential due to wind.  I wouldn't recommend traveling there after October.

 

Photos of the summit that I took in 2012 can be seen in my post at http://www.cloudynig...-west-virginia/

 

You can also observe from the tiny primitive Gatewood (Group) campground - http://www.reserveam...SO&parkId=73947 - on the flank of the mountain, as well as the Mountain Institute -  http://www.mountain.org/skmc - where the Almost Heaven West Virginia Star Party - http://www.ahsp.org/ - is held.  The campground leaves a lot to be desired, however.

 

Dave Mitsky



#194 Kidastronomer

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 02:54 PM

My favorite places are Block Island and the Catskills.

 

Block Island has transition 4-3 sky on the Bortle Scale. I usally book a house (more room to stargaze), and I found that the area south of the Mohegan Trail (Southernmost road, right along the massive bluffs) best due to the low horizons over the Atlantic. If any of you DO go there, it's a rickity rolley 2h ferry from Montalk NY and a much more pleasant 1h ferry from Galilee RI (the one I take).



#195 Philler

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 03:16 PM

Now here's a man with a plan.  Instead of complaining about LP he plans to maximize his observing.








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