Headed to Tuscon early...
Posted 27 September 2012 - 05:36 PM
Anyway on Monday night I'm probably going to want to drive an hour and a half or so out of town to find a spot to sit under dark skies with binoculars and/or with my 4" apo. Any suggestions for a good, dark (and safe!) location?
Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:41 AM
Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:19 PM
There are locations around the Green Valley area (just south of Tucson) you could use and are pretty safe. If you are concerned about safety, we could have some of our Sonora Astronomical Society club members keep you company.
You said Monday Nov 6th? Monday is the 5th.
Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:51 AM
I'm not overly worried about my safety, but a woman out in an unfamiliar dark area by herself with a telescope and a camera... sounds like a recipe for disaster without a specific recommendation. Thanks for the offer to ask some club members, but I don't want to put anyone out and I'm honestly a little introverted in person anyway in unfamiliar territory. If a star party was going on I would jump on the chance, for there I could be reasonably anonymous and interact to the extent that I'm comfortable, but if people were meeting me specifically I'd feel awkward.... But really, thank you so much for the offer!
I was hoping to travel out into the gray light pollution zones out near (past?) kitt peak and take in some really wide field views without or with minimal light domes that are really hard to escape in New England.
The other thread Bob mentioned scared me a bit though, it sounds like I ought to go as a group... I don't know.
I'm sure I'll have a chance to get some great views on Mt Lemmon Tuesday through Thursday nights, maybe I ought to try to get a good night's sleep instead Monday.....
Why is it that when I post this I feel really lame?
Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:03 AM
You have every right to be concerned about your safety. Traveling alone out into the Arizona hinterlands is not a good idea especially when you are not familiar with the area. If you change your mind, you can PM me. We have access to an area near Whipple Observatory south of Green Valley. It is very dark there.
Posted 02 October 2012 - 08:54 AM
Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:24 AM
I have found some unexpected alternatives: Kitt peak has an observing site where power could be arranged if you need it. There is a rental fee for it, but it is at 6000'.
Another point is you don't have to go as far out of town as you might think.
The dry air here doesn't support light pollution as well, and the area generally has far less outdoor lighting than most places. So, the small towns of Benson and Sonoita have very dark skies, as well as places one could stay.
I hope this helps. I'd like to see if we can get a CN member event during this. Not sure how to set it up.
Posted 04 October 2012 - 05:37 PM
There is also a little forest service picnic area next door, which has the goodness of available restroom facilities.
Finally, going up the road about a mile there is a rise with some pads put out for observing. This is pretty austere, but was purpose built for amateur astronomy.
I'll see if I can come up with some more spots.
Posted 05 October 2012 - 06:34 AM
The picnic area is where are club (S.A.S.) holds its star parties. Actually we have our monthly club star party scheduled there for Thursday the 6th. There are a couple of issues with that site:
1. There is no access to the Visitor Center parking area once the center is closed. The gate is locked and unless you work there and know the combination, it is off limits.
2. The picnic parking lot has somewhat limited space for cars (maybe 10 or so).
3. If it is a good night, the Veritas Gamma Ray scopes will be working and you have to be careful of cars entering and leaving the area once it gets dark.
If you want to set up something for other than the 6th, we might be able to work something out. You have to be careful how many would want to come.
There is another site at the entrance to Madera Canyon with a much larger parking area. As long as a ranger does not come along and object (you are supposed to have a pass or pay a fee to access the area because it is a National Forest area). The ranger does not show up very often.
That astronomer's pad up the road from the Visitor's Center is very small with room for only a couple of cars. Plus you would have to drag your equipment up to a second level above where you park not to mention I don't think it is a safe area.
Posted 05 October 2012 - 08:56 AM
The problem I've always had out here is the middle of nowhere is empty and perfectly safe, unless it isn't, then you're way the heck away from help or safety. I have a friend with a ranch near Benson, so I have been observing there, but it's not a general purpose solution.
There are a few people asking about what could be done. The star party TAAA is setting up looks like it is a little over two hours out of Tucson- good skies, but a large chunk of time to get out and back.
Unfortunately, I just learned of the event a few days ago, or else there would have been more of a chance to start figuring this out.
The biggest difference between this area and where NEAF is held is a good night sky. If there were a few chances for attendees to get out, I think it would be good for all.
Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:11 AM
Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:55 PM
One odd possibility: The Chiricahua National Monument- you'd definitely feel like you're on vacation, though some sort of planning for camping out or staying in Willcox would be needed. That's almost exactly 2 hours from Tucson.
Posted 05 October 2012 - 04:06 PM
Posted 07 October 2012 - 01:14 PM
I'm working on how we can get the following requirements met:
(1) Dark sky
(2) Secure location
(3) Electricity (this is a biggie)
(4) within 1 hr of Tucson travel.
I've looked up where TAAA is having the official star party. It is near Sunsites, Arizona, which is a little over 2 hours from Tucson. Sky darkness should be superb, but the 4+ hr. round trip would seem to be a biggie. The nearest town is Willcox, which has just a few restaurants and such, but does have a truck stop so I expect 24hr support of some sort is possible.
So, I am looking for something low-impact in comparison.
Posted 07 October 2012 - 02:26 PM
Posted 07 October 2012 - 03:27 PM
Wildlife can be a risk; but more in the northern parts of the state and due to rabies.
Posted 07 October 2012 - 04:40 PM
Posted 07 October 2012 - 10:25 PM
It may be possible to get on top of Mt. Lemmon for an evening. It has the best seeing near Tucson (over 9200' elevation). However, someone on staff will have to be there so it will need coordination and there would be a usage fee.
So, what nights are of greatest interest? Please indicate all evenings you think you might try to do the imaging/ observing session. I'll try to boil this down into #of interested parties, evenings of interest, and if you'd want to try to overnight (there are dorms, but this is climbing the cost/ complexity ladder).
Please PM me your answers. You aren't committed to anything, yet- I'm just trying to find out what the interest level is. Please forward this request to any other imagers/ advanced observers you know are attending and might be interested. For the record, all I'm personally getting out of this is a night of observing and maybe some good images and a chance to hang out with similarly interested people. No commercial or for-profit organization is involved in this request.
Please get responses to me by Thursday, October 11, so I can get info to the observatory folks and see if this can happen (don't worry too much if it won't- there are other possibilities).
The Mt. Lemmon site has superb seeing, so I am trying to gage if there is enough interest to make it happen. The seeing is generally unsually good around here anyway, so this information will still help get an observing site figured out in any case.
Copy this for your PM:
The dates between November 6-12 I am interested in observing and imaging in Tucson are:
I would be interested in Dorm accommodations for the end of the evening (Yes or No)
I have equipment requiring power (Yes or No).
I don't have gear with me due to travel constraints, but would like to try imaging (no idea if this can happen, but I can ask).
A fee would be acceptable for a superior observing site of up to $X per evening (max $ you are willing to consider).
Thank you for your help.
Posted 08 October 2012 - 09:53 PM
Rich: I'll definitely be PMing you.
PGW Steve: we're in the same boat, it sounds! Same gear, too!
I'm *only* afraid of two-legged trouble...
Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:30 PM
The TAAA offering is pretty expansive- and both sites are quite nice.
Let me know after reading the TAAA Star Party post.
Posted 13 October 2012 - 12:36 AM