Jump to content


Photo

Headed to Tuscon early...

  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#1 Tori

Tori

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 377
  • Joined: 10 Jan 2012
  • Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH

Posted 27 September 2012 - 05:36 PM

So I'm headed to Tuscon on Monday 11/6 because the flights didn't work out to have me there on time for mid-day Tuesday... I'm doing Adam Block's imaging workshop a few days before the expo.

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?

Thanks!

#2 Clay Kessler

Clay Kessler

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 346
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2007
  • Loc: Manchester MI

Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:41 AM

I would check out the Tucson Astronomy Club website and see if they have directions to the places they use as dark sites.

#3 bob71741

bob71741

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1035
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2008

Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:37 AM

Tori - Here is a link to a recent discussion about close by Tucson observing sites:
http://www.cloudynig...76/Main/5422797

#4 Tori

Tori

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 377
  • Joined: 10 Jan 2012
  • Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH

Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:05 AM

Thanks guys!

#5 johnpd

johnpd

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 455
  • Joined: 12 Apr 2008

Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:19 PM

Tori,

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.

JohnD

#6 Tori

Tori

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 377
  • Joined: 10 Jan 2012
  • Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH

Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:51 AM

I misspoke. I need to be there by the 6th but I'm arriving on Monday the 5th. :)

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?

#7 johnpd

johnpd

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 455
  • Joined: 12 Apr 2008

Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:03 AM

Hi Tori,

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.

JohnD

#8 csa/montana

csa/montana

    Den Mama

  • *****
  • Posts: 86521
  • Joined: 14 May 2005
  • Loc: montana

Posted 02 October 2012 - 08:54 AM

Agreed! Tori should not take a chance on her safety; anything can happen, including car trouble, stranding a person alone.

#9 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 5595
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:24 AM

I've had this problem ever since I moved to Tucson. The TAAA has a couple sites BUT they are only safe when they have an event going on.

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.

-Rich

#10 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 5595
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 04 October 2012 - 05:37 PM

OK, the best option I have so far is the visitors center for the the Whipple Observatory, which is south of Tucson and at about 5000 ft. I've been there for star parties. It is at the base of Mt. Hopkins, which has the 6.5 meter "Multi Mirror" Telescope (it just has one big mirror, now). There are actually several options with the Whipple observatory- one is their parking lot. I would expect anyone going to be courteous the staff there has been wonderful any time I have interacted with them. The parking lot is the only place I know one could get to power.

http://www.cfa.harva...sit_center.html

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.

-Rich

#11 johnpd

johnpd

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 455
  • Joined: 12 Apr 2008

Posted 05 October 2012 - 06:34 AM

Rich,

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.

JohnD

Edit:

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.

#12 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 5595
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 05 October 2012 - 08:56 AM

In this case, we're talking about the OP's request fror a spot for an individual, not a group. Anything the SAS has to say on this probably will be the best combination for distance and viewing. The other major thread had a request for any way to view with local folks.

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.

-Rich

#13 rboe

rboe

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 67114
  • Joined: 16 Mar 2002
  • Loc: Phx, AZ

Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:03 AM

The old Skywatchers Inn in Benson (stayed there eight years ago) may be an option too.

http://www.optcorp.c...DU.aspx?aid=637

Now called the Vega-Bray Observatory; worth looking into; about a half hour east of Tucson.

#14 rboe

rboe

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 67114
  • Joined: 16 Mar 2002
  • Loc: Phx, AZ

Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:11 AM

Hmmm, not sure if they are still active or not. :p Resources mention some remodeling; but websites are not up and no mention of a reopenning.

#15 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 5595
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:55 PM

Skywatchers has been gone for a while, unfortunately.

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.

-Rich

#16 PGW Steve

PGW Steve

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1341
  • Joined: 03 Oct 2006
  • Loc: Winnipeg, Canada

Posted 05 October 2012 - 04:06 PM

Hey I'm going there early too, just signed up for Adams workshop! I'll be bringing my Astrotrac rig and some camera gear, perhaps we can keeps the coyotes from chewing on each other :-D

#17 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 5595
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 07 October 2012 - 01:14 PM

Ok, I'm officially working on strategies for a "Pick-up" CN observing session.

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.

-Rich

#18 PGW Steve

PGW Steve

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1341
  • Joined: 03 Oct 2006
  • Loc: Winnipeg, Canada

Posted 07 October 2012 - 02:26 PM

When you say an area isn't 'safe', what are the potential hazards? Bears, wolves and coyotes don't scare me, big cats do, same goes for snakes, spiders, scorpions and hooligans on 2 legs.

#19 rboe

rboe

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 67114
  • Joined: 16 Mar 2002
  • Loc: Phx, AZ

Posted 07 October 2012 - 03:27 PM

Down here, we have human and drug smugglers which can be real problem for folks out in the middle of nowhere. There are some areas where it is advised not to go unless you have armed escorts.

Wildlife can be a risk; but more in the northern parts of the state and due to rabies.

#20 Skip

Skip

    Starlifter Driver

  • *****
  • Posts: 3940
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Fort Worth, Texas, USA

Posted 07 October 2012 - 04:40 PM

I would think most folks posting on this subject were referring to the two-legged hooligan type risk. Most likely the type Ron mentioned.

#21 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 5595
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 07 October 2012 - 10:25 PM

Ok- coordination question time:

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).

End questionnaire.

Thank you for your help.

-Rich

#22 Tori

Tori

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 377
  • Joined: 10 Jan 2012
  • Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH

Posted 08 October 2012 - 09:53 PM

First, thank you all for all the responses! I've been away without internet for the last few days so am only reading the latest batch of replies now!

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...

#23 rboe

rboe

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 67114
  • Joined: 16 Mar 2002
  • Loc: Phx, AZ

Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:16 PM

Aren't we all. :p

#24 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 5595
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 08 October 2012 - 11:30 PM

The two legged is most of it unless you're up in the Chiricahua mountains, where there are bears.

The TAAA offering is pretty expansive- and both sites are quite nice.

Let me know after reading the TAAA Star Party post.

-Rich

#25 RayM0506

RayM0506

    Lift Off

  • *****
  • Posts: 6
  • Joined: 27 Sep 2012
  • Loc: Tucson, AZ

Posted 13 October 2012 - 12:36 AM

I go all the way to the East on Speedway, towards the Rincon Mountains. It is called the Douglas Springs Trailhead. Good dark sky site. Pretty well traveled road. NO facilities, but plenty of bushes. LOL It is my regular dark sky site.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics