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Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark

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#1 mantrain

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 03:44 PM

That is, if a green zone is within an hour (which I think it is for 90% of Americans) how much further would you be willing to drive to get to a grey/black zone?

#2 Scott in NC

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 04:01 PM

Hard to answer, without some additional clarification: do you mean drive that far to observe on a weekly basis, once a month, or maybe just for that special once-a-year really dark sky treat?

Once weekly: I wouldn't be willing to drive more than an hour, and am quite content to observe from my home (which is in a yellow zone).

Once monthly: maybe an hour, but definitely no more than 2

Once a year: probably 5-6 hours at most


#3 mantrain

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 04:06 PM

well, I guess on an average basis, ie, no work the next day, but not some long planned trip.

#4 Dave97402

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 04:24 PM

about 20 miles to a pretty dark spot. Pretty close to grey

I should go there more, but I get a lot done from my backyard that is green/yellow ish

#5 Achernar

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 04:37 PM

I would be willing to drive 100 miles for skies that dark, IF the weather makes such a long trip worthwhile. But generally I would much rather drive no farther than 40 or 50 miles to get to an observing site.

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#6 mantrain

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 04:56 PM

I would be willing to drive 100 miles for skies that dark, IF the weather makes such a long trip worthwhile. But generally I would much rather drive no farther than 40 or 50 miles to get to an observing site.

Taras


how often?

#7 Americal

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 07:23 PM

I just got back from a 5 hour trip to black( 7.5 NELM) skies in the White Mts. Worth every minute of the road time. The transparency and seeing were so fine the last night it really recharged my batteries. I camp so I like to spend more than one night when I make a long trip like that but I think those of us in the west are more conditioned to the greater distances. I try to stack other daytime activities to "punch a couple other tickets," too.
To give you a direct answer I'd make that 5 hour trip 3 times a year but I pick the times carefully.

#8 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 07:41 PM

My club's DSS is 54 road miles from my house. I usually go there in the fall to spring months. There is a exploratory well near it with the lights now and next month's starparty in WY where a lot of my club members go to was cancelled. We're all chomping at the bit here this summer.
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#9 Achernar

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 09:03 PM

Once or twice a month, weather and work permitting.

Taras

#10 Tony Flanders

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 04:39 AM

That is, if a green zone is within an hour (which I think it is for 90% of Americans) how much further would you be willing to drive to get to a grey/black zone?


Boy, I sure doubt that a green zone is within an hour drive for 90% of Americans. Less than 50% would be my bet. I have to drive almost an hour to get to the orange zone.

People in the West have it better than people in the East, due to the proximity of vast quantities of government-owned land. But even there -- it takes more than an hour just to drive across L.A., let alone get far enough away from it to be in a green zone.

No doubt if it were an hour drive to green and a 2-hour drive to gray, I would go to green on weeknights and gray on weekends.

#11 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 05:18 AM

I drive about 70 miles to our Blue Zone spot and do it every clear weekend and some that are not.

The dark skies of the Navajo reservation are about 700 miles, we do that at least once a year.

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#12 Illinois

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 07:51 AM

You live in san Diego then drive to gray/black zone....you are lucky! In Illinois at least 7 hours drive to up north or drive south to pass St. Louis! Someday there might have no gray/ black zone left but I hope that I am wrong!

#13 bunyon

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 08:09 AM

What Tony said - with the addition that I'd drive a little farther if the opportunity to camp/spend night were available.

Also, I drive to the west every 3 or 4 years for combined observing/hiking/camping. My last trip logged 6000 miles total.

I wouldn't do that more than every other weekend, of course. :)

#14 A. Viegas

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 01:47 PM

As a relative newbie who just came back into this hobby this winter I have not yet made any long trips, mostly just observed from my Orange zone (mag 3-4 skies) in suburban CT or even a few times from white zone (mag 1 maybe...) in downtown new york city. I have not even considered trying a dark site. Maybe that is an idea for next year, but it would be difficult to condition the spouse of my requirement to stay out all night at some remote site, when I can do it from my backyard in CT... hence that is a bridge to cross at some point...

So for your survey my data point is going to be woefully unrepresentative as I would say maybe 1x per year I may have an opportunity to experience dark skies... and that would probably have to be an 'event' like Stellaphane up in VT for instance...

my 2c
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#15 audioaficionado

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 11:54 PM

I live in a red-orange zone, but I'm 40 miles/1 hour from dark gray and 160 miles/3.5 hours from a South central Oregon black zone. I'll most likely not drive up to the former more than a few times per year and maybe the latter once a year tops. It's more of a money issue than a time issue.

#16 Tony Flanders

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 05:37 PM

So for your survey my data point is going to be woefully unrepresentative as I would say maybe 1x per year I may have an opportunity to experience dark skies... and that would probably have to be an 'event' like Stellaphane up in VT for instance...


Stellafane is surely darker than anywhere in Connecticut, but it has lots of light pollution. The normal light-pollution atlas shows it in the yellow zone, but I think it's actually more like green.

That's the same as the "bad" sky in the original question -- the one that's just 1 hour from San Diego.

Even so, a visit to Stellafane will blow your mind wide open -- you will understand exactly why people are willing to drive long distances to find dark skies. Stellafane is still dark enough to see many, many dark lanes in the Milky Way -- though just a pale image of a true dark site.

#17 bunyon

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 07:42 PM

I noted my trip to Natural Bridges above. I haven't been out since due to weather and travel. I think this a good thing as I might not be able to face the sky I normally have here too close on the heels of Bridges.

Even if you can't take a scope, you need to see the Milky Way from a black zone on a good night at some point. It's unbelievable and, literally, awesome.

#18 amicus sidera

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 05:03 PM

I won't usually travel to a dark site. I did all that type of travelling when I was younger, and although I enjoyed it immensely at the time, now that I'm older I don't enjoy the packing, driving, unpacking, observing for all too short of a time, packing and driving home again in the wee hours. I still go occasionally, but once or twice a year at best - and this is to a green-blue zone... there are no really dark skies within reasonable distance.

I do, however, plan on traveling a good distance to a new home with dark skies when I'm fully retired in a few short years, God willing, and then I will travel no more. :grin:

Btw, just about anywhere that doesn't have "NJ" as it's state designation has darker skies than here, so I can only trade up! :lol:

#19 audioaficionado

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 09:14 PM

Tonight the wife and I are going up to the dark skies to see some stars. We only have my binoculars to view with, but it'll be nice to see a full complement of stars for a change.

#20 City Kid

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 10:37 AM

I have to drive for an hour to get to a yellow zone. I'm willing to do that any clear, moonless weekend. To get to a green zone I would need to drive 3 hours and I don't ever bother. If I could get to a black or grey zone in less than 4 or 5 hours I would do that every chance I had but I have no black or grey zones that close. As it is I drive 18 hours to the Nebraska Star Party once a year so I can have at least one week a year in a black zone.

#21 George N

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 12:44 PM

To get to a yellow/green border area I need to walk outside my house. To get to a blue area (a state park in PA) I need to drive about an hour, and to get to a gray area (Cherry Springs) I need to drive a little over 3 hours (depending on fracting truck traffic) – or 5.5 hours to my Adirondack camp.

Bottom line: I only drive to observe if going to a star party or if I’m pretty sure of at least two clear nights, with no more than 2 or 3 hours of moonlight to contend with. I very much prefer to camp and take the scopes down the morning I'm heading home.

#22 ih8usrnames

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 12:57 PM

I am partially colorblind so I do not know what color I am driving to but I do know it is a Bortles 4.5 by lingering over it on Cleardarksky

Does the scale go Yellow, Green, Blue, Grey, Black?

I already drive 70 miles 1-2 times a month just to get to a 4.5. If there were cheap camping nearby (Summer) I would drive twice the distance at least once a month to get to Blue or Grey. I would consider it in the winter too if cheap hotel were nearby.

Thee closest Blue spots to me are:
near Silver Lake State Park, Mi - 232 miles
Mount Sterling, Wi - 244 miles
Dagget, Mi (UP) - 292 miles

#23 rainycityastro

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:07 PM

I have to drive about 3.5 hours to get to a grey area. I can get to a blue area within about 2 hours.

Living in possibly the cloudiest city of USA, the big problem is clear skies and not dark skies for me personally. But I'd be willing to drive 3.5 hours each way once a month.

#24 City Kid

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:32 PM

I have to drive about 3.5 hours to get to a grey area. I can get to a blue area within about 2 hours.

So is it worth the extra 1.5 hours to get to the grey zone rather than observe from the blue zone?

#25 oldtimer

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 06:11 PM

The Chicago sky glow is tough to escape. A green zone is about 90 miles and thats an overnighter for me. The closest blue zone is about 149 miles and thats got to be a weekend. Most of my club's observing sites for one nighters are in orange and yellow zones from 40 to 70 miles.






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