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Table Mountain Star Party, Washington

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#26 square_peg

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 10:48 AM

Welcome to the forums, David.

I agree that we need to find a new place. It's gonna be tough to find a place that can accommodate that many people and has good skies.

#27 vsteblina

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 08:50 PM

It is difficult to find a real dark site in Washington state within reasonable driving distance of Puget Sound.

I can see the sky glow from Seattle from my house in Wenatchee. Granted it is just along the horizon, but up in the Cascades the effect is more pronounced.

Overlay the requirement for a 1,000 people and you can see how difficult it is to find a suitable area.

Then you can start looking at environmental review laws on federal and state lands.

Now do you have a headache??

#28 Stacy

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 11:55 AM

There is a great space with arguably the darkest skies you are likely to find in the Northwest. It's not too far and can accommodate a thousand easily. Unfortunately, it's already spoken for by OSP. ;)

Seriously, I think a merger of the two events (if the quagmire of politics and finances could be untangled) would be the best option. At least for a year or so.

If not, there are some seriously dark skies in northeast Washington. If we have to have our own, that might be an area to look.

Table Mountain's days as an optimal site for astronomy are long since past. Since you can't have TMSP anywhere but Table Mountain, it could continue as a recreational and educational event.

I would love to see a regional event with consideration for campsites with a little room to breathe. Not packed in like sardines as at Table.

Just my musings on this fine Saturday morning.

#29 vsteblina

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 06:22 PM

I lived in Colville for five years. The skies are dark in northeast Washington, but it is a very long drive for folks in western Washington. Lots of trees on national forest managed land and I am not sure that you could find a place for 1,000 people.

The Okanogan Highlands has some nice private parcels that could host a star party and much better skies than Table Mountain.

I found the perfect spot outside of Enterprise, Oregon but it had a partially blocked southern horizon. Again, quite a distance from Puget Sound.

I would look around Satus Pass on the Yakama Indian Nation or the private land on the south facing slopes.

#30 Rich

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:02 PM

I've only been to the large party up there once, due to being out of town in the July timeframe. I certainly enjoyed the large party, but for me it was a special place to go near new moons and usually there were others observing up there, although by late September it would sometimes just be me (usually with the family). The Orion Nebula party has always been a favorite.

On the sky conditions, I agree it is not as dark as it could be, but obviously great compared with the metro areas. I believe the high altitude makes a big difference and getting above much of the moisture really helps compared with lower sites that may be a little darker.

Reading some threads here on CN about star parties it has been pointed out that ultra dark sky is not as key as accessablity, activities and such for the 1000 people size events. There will always be stray light at such a large gathereing anyway. Not that it wouldn't be nice to have, but probably location will depend more on other criteria.

Will be good to hear what people come up with for alternatives.

#31 zerro1

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:51 PM

Vladimir, Do you know anything about the area up around Freeze-out Pass. It's up near the area that the 30 mile fire was in. It's the dirt road from West chewuch to Tonasket. It comes out just north of Wannacut Lake. Seems to me that there are some fairly large clearings up there. It's a big Snowmobile playground during the winter..

Lets Face it...There are no other places like Table Mountain, with a well developed road, a few miles from the Interstate. If you-all want dark sky, it's going to be a bit more obscure than right up the hill from Ellensburg.

#32 square_peg

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 01:39 AM

I would look around Satus Pass on the Yakama Indian Nation or the private land on the south facing slopes.


Bickleton. Maybe we can find a farmer who'd like to host us on his land.

#33 vsteblina

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 07:33 PM

Vladimir, Do you know anything about the area up around Freeze-out Pass. It's up near the area that the 30 mile fire was in. It's the dirt road from West chewuch to Tonasket. It comes out just north of Wannacut Lake. Seems to me that there are some fairly large clearings up there. It's a big Snowmobile playground during the winter..


Lots of dirt roads in that area if I remember correctly.

I think the Okanogan Highlands is probably the best bet. I did talk to this lady at a meeting once. Looks like they might have enough room.....and horizon's look good. It would be dark up there.

http://www.edenvalleyranch.net/

Not sure if they could fit 1,000 people...however.

I really like the Satus Pass area. I saw Hale-Bopp from there in winter when coming back from Portland. It was a great sky. Not sure if there is a site large enough in the area, but it might be worth looking around. The other advantage to Satus is that you can easily do star parties later and earlier in the year than in other sites.

Table is a great site for environmental education and kids. My daughter still has fond memories of wandering the mountain top in the dark!!

#34 Spaced

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 03:47 PM

Bickleton. Maybe we can find a farmer who'd like to host us on his land.


Hmmmm, I dunno. I think the skies there would be considerably brighter than west of Goldendale, since it's adjacent to the Yakima Valley.

I believe everything around Satus pass is wooded.

Yakama nation might be worth invesigating. It would have to be on the western side, away from the Yakima valley, but they have a lot of land and the tribe might welcome some revenue. I don't know the area, though. Pegster, didn't you drive out to Ft. Simcoe State Park one time?

Probably Tonasket / Republic region would be the best combination of dark skies and available land adjacent to black top, but as pointed out, it's a long, long way to drive from Puget Sound.

#35 square_peg

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 10:50 PM

Bickleton. Maybe we can find a farmer who'd like to host us on his land.


Hmmmm, I dunno. I think the skies there would be considerably brighter than west of Goldendale, since it's adjacent to the Yakima Valley.


Maybe so. But Horse Heaven Hills would be blocking much of that light to the north. And the southern skies look pretty good. And the critical SE skies look toward the blackness of eastern Oregon. Check the light pollution maps. It's looks decent to me.

There's a 1 square mile patch of land SW of Bickleton that appears to be public land. Might be worth investigating.

Google map

#36 DarkSkys

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 12:34 PM

Bickleton. Maybe we can find a farmer who'd like to host us on his land.


Hmmmm, I dunno. I think the skies there would be considerably brighter than west of Goldendale, since it's adjacent to the Yakima Valley.

I believe everything around Satus pass is wooded.

Yakama nation might be worth invesigating. It would have to be on the western side, away from the Yakima valley, but they have a lot of land and the tribe might welcome some revenue. I don't know the area, though. Pegster, didn't you drive out to Ft. Simcoe State Park one time?

Probably Tonasket / Republic region would be the best combination of dark skies and available land adjacent to black top, but as pointed out, it's a long, long way to drive from Puget Sound.


Not sure if the Tribe will wan't us around, from what i've been told by family, non-tribal members are not allowed to be on Yakima nation forrest lands unless you have a yakima nation member there with you.

I wonder if there is anywhere we can go down in SE wa, down in the Blues?

#37 BradleyB

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:17 PM

It looks like there is a regular grid of sections that are WA DNR land, and that this is one of them. There are lots of them in the area. I do not see a single road into it on the satellite view.

Brad

There's a 1 square mile patch of land SW of Bickleton that appears to be public land. Might be worth investigating.

Google map [/quote]

#38 bper

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:48 PM

Living in Yakima, I can vouch for the light pollution here. We have to head West into the mountains for good dark skies. It's steadily getting worse as I am sure it is almost everywhere. I think Stacy may have been correct in an earlier post or at least had an idea worth looking at.

There is a great space with arguably the darkest skies you are likely to find in the Northwest. It's not too far and can accommodate a thousand easily. Unfortunately, it's already spoken for by OSP.


Here is proof of this.

The night sky in the World

At least it makes the most sense so far and possibly you need to be thinking about July and August. Food for thought. I've been to Pine Mt a couple time (one mt range South of OSP). Excellent skies, but not enough room for a big crowd. I'm sure the TMSP board will do what is best for everyone, regardless of all our good intentions here.

The Table Mt fire is still only 80% controlled as of today and it won't be out until the snow or rain comes. It is both a tragedy and blessing if you consider all the blown down and diseased trees on the mountain. Every take a walk to the North of the viewing area? 100 years from now it will look real pretty again. I think of that when I get down on the whole thing. I'm sure someone will fly over and take a picture of the site when everything is safe again, but I'm not sure I want to see it.

#39 square_peg

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 08:40 AM

I heard that the central group of trees was saved. And a meadow fire generally doesn't get so hot as to kill the roots. So the meadow will probably be as green as ever next summer. It's just the surrounding forest that will be blackened. I don't think the fire precludes TMSP being held at the usual location next summer.

The growing light domes are another issue. Table Mtn still has a lot going for it, capacity, proximity, tradition and a good road.

#40 square_peg

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 10:07 PM

I took a hike up First Creek today just a few miles below the Table Mtn. Star Party site. I was surprised by how much had survived the fire. Granted, this was in the lower reaches of the fire but many of the trees appear to have survived. The underbrush is burned and many trees are burned but many still have green tops. And there were many patches of grass that were skipped over by the fire.

I'm sure the devastation is worse up on top where the fire burned hotter but I was encouraged by what I saw today. I'll try to get some pics up tomorrow.

The area got a good rain soaking over the last few days. Never the less we found one stump still smoldering at the edge of the burn. We smothered that with dirt. There are probably still hundreds of others like the smoldering stump we found.

#41 cliff mygatt

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:31 AM

Thanks for the update, Tom. It would be nice to know what the future holds for Table.

#42 Jack Day

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 03:53 PM

Hi All,

New info about TMSP was posted today on the TMSPA.com website.. And a few post fire pictures of the site as well. Go take a look!

#43 Stacy

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 05:34 PM

Yes, in a few years from now, while evidence of the fire will still be prominent, much of the beauty of the area will be intact.

Thanks for the report!

#44 DarkSkys

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 02:04 PM

Hmmmm. Mabey this will workout well in the end, if they can find a site that just as nice, but darker?

#45 cliff mygatt

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 09:36 PM

Thanks Jack for posting the info, the site looks OK and I agee with the decision of the board, let it recover, we can always go somewhere else for a few years.

#46 svtdoug

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 11:30 PM

I find the report encouraging that the main telescope field and north trees survived the fire. I hope the TMSP board hasn't acted hastily by already abandoning TM next year. If the site, for the most part escaped the flames, not sure why they have given up on TM? I love the site. To me it beats OSP's site. Yes, skies are darker at OSP, but I really miss the beauty of TM, when at OSP - unless you love looking at rocks! I also like the fact that the main telescope field is pretty much contiguous, while OSP is segmented all over the place.

I hope they keep TM as an option for 2013 when evaluating other alternative.

Just my $.02

Doug

#47 Stacy

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 02:15 PM

I think it's mainly a saftey thing. Damaged trees can fall without notice. Along the roads and/or the site itself.

#48 cliff mygatt

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:27 PM

I think the forest service wants to let the area "rest and recover" for a while before allowing use! TMSPA would be happy to use the site if allowed!

#49 Jack Day

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 08:06 PM

New information posted regarding TMSP for 2013 posted on the TMSPA.com site today!

#50 groz

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 12:36 AM

It's just down the road from the mt kobau star party going at the same time. The skies at kobau have always been far superior to what we saw at table mountain. We will be on mt kobau for that event. We may drive down one day from kobau just to check out the location.






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