Jump to content


Photo

Denver Dark Site Under Attack

  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10818
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 21 June 2012 - 02:53 PM

The Denver Astronomical Society has a dark site about an hour's drive East of Denver. There was nothing out there. The only tree you can see is about 3/4 mile away (we use it to sight in our finders). Wouldn't you know it, the whole state of Colorado to drill in, and an oil company decides to drill about 1/4 mile from the site. To make it worse, it is a 24/7 drilling site with the "it's gotta be daylight conditions for us to work here". Needless to say, the exact opposite of what we need for viewing at night. SO, here'e my fiendish plan to get even. First, we get all the reflector telescopes/mirrors we can find and focus the morning sun from those mirrors towards the drilling platform (warning: not recommended for closed tube OTAs). That way they'll have plenty of daylight, and it'll keep'em warm on those nice cool 99* days.

#2 Kfrank

Kfrank

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1803
  • Joined: 20 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Northern Colorado

Posted 22 June 2012 - 10:36 AM

Not to defend the companies, but they have to drill where they have leases, so the "whole state of Colorado to drill in" is specious. I realize that they light up the drilling platforms like a Christmas tree and it's unfortunate that it impinges on your dark sky sight but I'd point out that in Northern and Eastern Colo, the sight of oil and gas drilling rigs is not exactly strange. Besides, one of two things will happen here: They'll either find gas or oil or they won't. In the first case, the'll set up pumps and storage and go away. In the second case, they'll just go away. Their presence is not permanent but I'm sure it is annoying.

#3 UmaDog

UmaDog

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2052
  • Joined: 15 Sep 2010
  • Loc: Basel, Switzerland

Posted 22 June 2012 - 12:14 PM

I have heard that at Cherry Springs there's an agreement whereby they don't light up (or don't drill) on new moon weekends.

#4 Joe F Gafford

Joe F Gafford

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2047
  • Joined: 15 Dec 2006
  • Loc: Denver, Colorado, US

Posted 16 July 2012 - 07:45 PM

Here's the beastie on the DAS DSS, taken at last night's aurora no-show. It is 1.7 miles away. It is a test well, slated to finish drilling later this month. 1 minute exposure with an Olympus E-500 DSLR, 18mm at F/4. The structure barely visible below the well lights is the outhouse. BTW: Our signoff now is "Clear Skies and dry holes"
Joe.

Attached Files



#5 Kfrank

Kfrank

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1803
  • Joined: 20 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Northern Colorado

Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:12 PM

Actually, I believe you're referring to the "doghouse" as it is called in the trade - not the "outhouse". :o

#6 George N

George N

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2761
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:48 PM

I have heard that at Cherry Springs there's an agreement whereby they don't light up (or don't drill) on new moon weekends.


True. Plus the state bought up the drilling rights around the park to prevent drilling in the immediate area. Thanks to the big drop in natural gas prices the drilling in PA is cut way back, but will resume when the price recovers. I saw a flaring well on Sunday on a ridgeline just off of I-81 south of Binghamton, NY.

Plus New York is next. :(

#7 FirstSight

FirstSight

    Duke of Deneb

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9847
  • Joined: 26 Dec 2005
  • Loc: Raleigh, NC

Posted 17 July 2012 - 02:27 PM

There's historically a long-term combined upside/downside to any sort resource development that effectively "mines" rather than "farms" the resource. In many cases, the "long term" doesn't even turn out to be all that long at all. American history (and especially the American west) is littered with examples of boom-and-bust resource development that for awhile, attracts a rapid, too often heedlessly controlled influx of development, infrastructure, and people, but within one to three decades, goes bust. For example, I have no doubt that the North Dakota boom will go bust well within many of our lifetimes, perhaps as soon as ten to fifteen years, and the skies will return to dark. The current oil and natural gas boom will likely follow this pattern in any particular area, though of course there will be some new areas opened up in the meantime.

This is, of course, no help in the short run of the next year or two for those of you in the Denver Astro Club whose dark site has been compromised by needlessly unshielded, excessively bright lighting. But it will inevitably be gone, just not nearly soon enough.

#8 Ron359

Ron359

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 165
  • Joined: 21 Apr 2008
  • Loc: -103 +39

Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:00 PM

Not to defend the companies, but they have to drill where they have leases, so the "whole state of Colorado to drill in" is specious. I realize that they light up the drilling platforms like a Christmas tree and it's unfortunate that it impinges on your dark sky sight but I'd point out that in Northern and Eastern Colo, the sight of oil and gas drilling rigs is not exactly strange. Besides, one of two things will happen here: They'll either find gas or oil or they won't. In the first case, the'll set up pumps and storage and go away. In the second case, they'll just go away. Their presence is not permanent but I'm sure it is annoying.


You are entitled to your opinion. Here area some facts, not opinion.

Actually the company, Southwestern Energy, has leased 264,000 acres in eastern Colorado and this is their 2nd drill hole, it is 1.7 miles from our 6 acre site and their lights cast shadows on our observatory. And if 'successful' they will not be going away:

"If the company’s drilling program yields positive results, it expects that activity in the area could increase significantly over the next several years."

http://www.swn.com/o...sburgbasin.aspx

Ron P.
President, DAS
www.denverstro.org

#9 barasits

barasits

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 425
  • Joined: 12 Jun 2011
  • Loc: Chicago

Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:37 PM

Southwestern Energy probably choose the site from among available leases for some of the same reasons that the Denver Astronomical Society selected it: accessible but far enough away from possible interference from Denver.

This is very depressing. I'm a CU alum so Colorado is very close to my heart. I hope the DAS will be able to muster enough public support to defend its site. All of the outreach that the DAS has done should have earned it a lot of good will.

Geoff

#10 Kfrank

Kfrank

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1803
  • Joined: 20 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Northern Colorado

Posted 18 July 2012 - 11:31 AM

Not to defend the companies, but they have to drill where they have leases, so the "whole state of Colorado to drill in" is specious. I realize that they light up the drilling platforms like a Christmas tree and it's unfortunate that it impinges on your dark sky sight but I'd point out that in Northern and Eastern Colo, the sight of oil and gas drilling rigs is not exactly strange. Besides, one of two things will happen here: They'll either find gas or oil or they won't. In the first case, the'll set up pumps and storage and go away. In the second case, they'll just go away. Their presence is not permanent but I'm sure it is annoying.


You are entitled to your opinion. Here area some facts, not opinion.

Actually the company, Southwestern Energy, has leased 264,000 acres in eastern Colorado and this is their 2nd drill hole, it is 1.7 miles from our 6 acre site and their lights cast shadows on our observatory. And if 'successful' they will not be going away:

"If the company’s drilling program yields positive results, it expects that activity in the area could increase significantly over the next several years."

http://www.swn.com/o...sburgbasin.aspx

Ron P.
President, DAS
www.denverstro.org


Actually, Ron, I did state facts - you just didn't like them.

You say these folks have leases on 264,000 acres in Easter Colorado.

Colorado encompasses 0ver 66 million acres with Eastern Colorado accounting for about half of that. So the energy company holds leases on less than 10% of the eastern part of the state. That still leaves them over 30 million acres on which they cannot drill.

Seems to me my originally stated "opinion" holds up rather well.

It's always disturbing when things like this happen - but they happen all the time and to all sorts of people. Boaters and fishermen are frequently disrupted in the pursuit of their hobby by commercial interests. So are hikers, bicyclists, hunters, etc. You're probably right that if the hole comes in, they'll be drilling more. I was only trying to point out that once a hole starts producing, activity around it goes virtually to zero. They may drill more nearby holes, but they'll eventually go quiet. Also, there are regulations about how close together oil wells can be. The days of the "forrest of derricks" as seen in early 20th century Texas are long over.

It is sad that your clubs dark sky site is being affected. The energy company is not out to get you - they're just doing their job. You may ask, "why light up the rig so brightly?" If you were a roughneck working on that rig, you'd very much appreciate the bright lights from a safety perspective. You also might ask "Why do they have to drill at night?" and that's a fair question. They probably don't have to, but drillers have been working as a 24 hour operation for decades.

One question for you. Have you, or anyone from the club, made an attempt to initiate talks with the folks responsible for the drilling? Have you made your concerns known to them?

#11 Ron359

Ron359

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 165
  • Joined: 21 Apr 2008
  • Loc: -103 +39

Posted 18 July 2012 - 11:42 AM


One question for you. Have you, or anyone from the club, made an attempt to initiate talks with the folks responsible for the drilling? Have you made your concerns known to them? [/quote]

Yes we have, as well as the Arapahoe County government's O&G representative. Letters and discussion is contained in our DAS newsletter for July. Their response is the lighting is for the safety of workers.

They must also be looking out for our safety because we no longer need red flashlights almost 2 miles away. We are working on a further response.

#12 Joe F Gafford

Joe F Gafford

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2047
  • Joined: 15 Dec 2006
  • Loc: Denver, Colorado, US

Posted 18 July 2012 - 12:42 PM

Actually, I believe you're referring to the "doghouse" as it is called in the trade - not the "outhouse". :o

Naw, we call it the Loovre. It is where we go at night. The "doghouse" is the warming hut. Things get thick in there as well as on some of the pads!
Joe.

#13 Joe F Gafford

Joe F Gafford

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2047
  • Joined: 15 Dec 2006
  • Loc: Denver, Colorado, US

Posted 20 July 2012 - 08:04 PM

The image above is part of the panorama I made of the site. An earlier panorama in in the same set on my Flickr account. Also, I did get the faint aurora in the north to NNE in the image. Linky: Here
Joe.

#14 George N

George N

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2761
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 21 July 2012 - 09:54 AM

The picture makes clear that this is a very flat landscape, allowing for seeing the drill towers a long way. In Pennsylvania, thanks to the mountains and forests, it is rare to be able to have a line-of-sight longer than a half mile. Therefore the major impact in PA from gas drilling is not the tower lights, but rather burn-off from completed wells. Lit up towers usually only cause a little glow on the horizon, but burn-off causes a much brighter glow, plus it is highly variable.

At the Cherry Springs Star Party speakers representing the state and the industry said that the tower lighting levels are required by law…. But I don’t remember them noting if it was state or federal law (OSHA maybe?).

#15 Tonk

Tonk

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7086
  • Joined: 19 Aug 2004
  • Loc: Leeds, UK, 54N

Posted 22 July 2012 - 11:30 AM

the industry said that the tower lighting levels are required by law


That may be but surely THE issue is the lack of adequate shielding to prevent the spread of the light beyond the area actually required to be lit by law. Or does the law require them to light up to the visible horizon?????

#16 George N

George N

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2761
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 23 July 2012 - 10:00 PM

the industry said that the tower lighting levels are required by law


That may be but surely THE issue is the lack of adequate shielding to prevent the spread of the light beyond the area actually required to be lit by law. Or does the law require them to light up to the visible horizon?????


My (very limited) understanding is that the requirement is for very bright spot lights shining up on the tower from ground level completely lighting up the structure, plus more lights on top pointing down. I think it would be impossible to shield the entire tower, which is lit up brighter than daytime by the spot lights angled up at it. They also spotlight the ground level equipment and light up the entire drilling pad, and the heavy equipment staging area, plus there are many trucks moving onto the pad, day and night, to carry in/out the fracking fluid and other equipment. Gas drilling is a major industrial activity that looks much like someone has moved a small heavy industry plant to the wilderness.

Even worse is a 5 story high gas jet burning so loud that you think you are standing next to a jet fighter ready to take off. They do that for weeks after drilling each well to keep the gas flowing until they can connect into the pipelines.

In the area around Cherry Springs Dark Sky Park the gas companies have agreed to not do gas burn-off on dark period weekends, but they will not turn off the drill tower lights. Luckily in PA that is not that big a deal compared to the burn-off flames because the lines of sight are short in the mountains.

After the wells are complete and hooked into a pipeline system I have not seen any lights at the wells, but I’ve been told that the gas companies insist on “security lights” at certain points along the pipelines.

#17 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10818
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 05 August 2012 - 10:13 AM

Hey All, was out by the DAS Darksite last night. THE TOWER AND LIGHTS ARE GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But the moon was doing it's best to make up for it :lol: :lol:

Hopefully, there won't be another.

#18 thinairart

thinairart

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 522
  • Joined: 18 Nov 2009
  • Loc: Denver, Co

Posted 06 August 2012 - 02:59 PM

That is great news! I'm also in the Denver area am thinking about joining the Denver club. Great to know that the club dark site is once again dark!

#19 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10818
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 08 August 2012 - 11:13 AM

I joined last April but haven't yet attended a meeting, but plan to soon (just had a lot on my plate this summer). I do want to start attending the Thursday public viewings/meetings. The dark site is really nice. There is power and North aligned cement pads. We also have a toilet, another "Break" shed, and the domed observatory. I believe there is a 14" Cat in there people can use. It is about an hour's drive East of Denver. Another place in Denver for info and a good place to spend all your money, is S&S Optica on Broadway/Arapahoe. It's a telescope candy store!! These people are some of the most knowledgeable and helpful people I've met. Unfortunately, I like the eye candy they put on display.....that's how I got my 13mm Nagler and my ES82 24mm (Both original models, Type 1s).

#20 csrlice12

csrlice12

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10818
  • Joined: 22 May 2012
  • Loc: Denver, CO

Posted 06 February 2013 - 08:50 AM

Stopped by the scope shop today (got a pentax 7XW!), told them I was going to the dark sky weekend at the DAS site. They told me that the Gas company is working at their drilling site (less than 1/2 mile away, no obstructions) and that it's lit up like a Christmas Tree out there again......also, the news now says SNOW for the weekend.....the curse works.....






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics