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Accurate map? Good site for observatory?

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#1 FarmerFrederico

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:04 PM

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if this map I found on here is still accurate:

Dark Sky Finder

I am moving back to Keosauqua, IA to my family farm to be closer to family now that my wife and I have had our first child. I will be teaching high school sciences just down the road and astronomical outreach will be a hobby of mine. The farm we will live on, is well within the green zone of this small town which is surrounded by about a 15-20 mile radius of blue zone country according to this map. I haven't been able to observe there enough to be able to give you Bortle indices, but I'm always wowed by what I can pick out on clear nights.

I love refractors. I have a 3" in alt-az for grab-n-go, a GEM mount ordered for a soon to be purchased 4-5" refractor, and for my third scope (several years down the road) I'd like to either own a 20-30" dob or a 8+" refractor.

Is the concern for light pollution so large that I should rule out a permanently mounted large refractor in a roll-off, or should I keep myself flexible and keep dreaming about the big dob? As the kids get older, I can imagine camping at star parties would be pretty fun for the family.

Thanks for you thoughts!

#2 Illinois

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:10 AM

Best is go there and look up to see how dark the sky is.

#3 George N

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:05 AM

....... I'd like to either own a 20-30" dob or a 8+" refractor.....


We think you should get *both*...... and then invite us all over to observe...... :D

Any of these scopes would make for some great observing from either a green or blue zone. However, all of these maps are only ‘a guide’, do not adjust for seasonal differences, mountain shadowing, frequent fog covering the major LP sources (something I’m lucky enough to have at times). Also, the maps cover sky glow, not local glair from neighbors’ lights, road traffic, etc. Looking good on the LP map is only a first step towards finding a great observing site.

You really do need to get some observing at your new location under your belt to both evaluate the site and the scopes that work best for you. It appears that you do have a good chance for having a great site.

#4 amicus sidera

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:46 AM

"There's no substitute for aperture", as the saying goes, but a permanently-mounted and housed 8" refractor is very fetching, indeed... looking at the map, and figuring economic conditions into the mix, I don't think that light pollution is going to be a serious concern for you for many years, if ever.

Let's see, shall we: living on the family farm in Iowa, in a green/blue zone, with a steady non-agricultural job and funds for some serious glass... now I'm jealous. :grin:

#5 FarmerFrederico

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 12:40 PM

Thanks for the replies, folks. I have spent a lot of time there observing with the naked eye, but only occasionally with my telescope as I have lived either in Iowa City or out of state for the 5 years that I have been more seriously observing with my scope. The skies are definitely dark...I was just getting a gauge on when light pollution begins to play a role in individuals's decisions to invest in a private observatory. I know several club and institutional observatories exist in much more light polluted places, but I think that proximity to the public plays a role in locating those facilities. You are right, Amicus, I'm lucky! There is a 12" Alvin & Sons refractor in an astronomy club's observatory about 45 minutes away to boot!

#6 DavidC

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 06:43 PM

How did you get that dark Sky Finder website for the Wisconsin and Iowa area? I would like to get that for the Arizona area I live in.
Thanks,David

#7 FarmerFrederico

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 07:30 PM

You should be able to just click on the link I provided (I found it on the web myself) and then just drag the map over to AZ and zoom in to where you live.

#8 drollere

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 04:40 PM

fyi to others: i downloaded the entire "revised" USA light map (.png file) and imported it into google earth as a data layer. once you get the coastlines and state boundaries lined up you can drill down to see the light pollution at good resolution, on street maps or terrain.

#9 csrlice12

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:53 AM

....... I'd like to either own a 20-30" dob or a 8+" refractor.....


We think you should get *both*...... and then invite us all over to observe...... :D

Any of these scopes would make for some great observing from either a green or blue zone. However, all of these maps are only ‘a guide’, do not adjust for seasonal differences, mountain shadowing, frequent fog covering the major LP sources (something I’m lucky enough to have at times). Also, the maps cover sky glow, not local glair from neighbors’ lights, road traffic, etc. Looking good on the LP map is only a first step towards finding a great observing site.

You really do need to get some observing at your new location under your belt to both evaluate the site and the scopes that work best for you. It appears that you do have a good chance for having a great site.


I really hope Tori sublets the doghouse as an observatory on that 68 acres...... :shocked:






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