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Where is the best seeing in North America?

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#1 CMacD

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 12:35 PM

If you had a choice where to image from on a nightly basis anywhere on the North American continent summer and winter where would it be?

#2 skywatch

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:09 PM

Mt Wilson has pretty good seeing but too much light pollution.
-Rolf

#3 Rankinstudio

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 06:27 PM

Southern Arizona?

#4 DesertRat

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 08:14 PM

I've observed in many places from the gulf coast to New Mexico mountains and other high places in the west. Southern Arizona is good especially at higher elevations, not so good from desert valleys. The seeing in the swamps of SE Texas was remarkable if you don't mind the bugs and other assorted creatures rustling in the dark, not to mention the fog that rolls in and dew that has to be seen to believe. But very steady skies which I miss. I'm sure Florida is pretty good too - but never observed there.

Rolf got it right - for seeing and comfort its hard to beat SoCal, I've had great seeing from a hill in Pasadena.

Some of the best seeing in North America is in Mexico along the coastal mountains in the west. Its dry, clear and often has very stable air.

Glenn

#5 Brian Albin

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:26 AM

Has anyone tried the California Islands?
I mean Catalina and the rest of that group. I never hear any mention of them.
San Clemente and Santa Rosa are probably the furthest from the light of Los Angeles of the group.

#6 Freddy WILLEMS

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:37 AM

Hawaii suck..... for now

#7 CMacD

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:53 AM

Southern Arizona is good especially at higher elevations, not so good from desert valleys.
Glenn


Sounds like Southern Arizona has possibly the best of most worlds. Nice transparency for a good portion of the year, nice climate most of the time, and good seeing also. I am building a trailer robotic observatory and looking into all the factors for its placement. I may well have both wide field and planetary capability so seeing could certainly be an issue. If I can drive the trailer there then it is on the list. Most of the time we have to suck up what our local weather brings us but I like the idea of setting up where the weather is best and leaving it there. So everyone's input truly helps. Thanks,

#8 tim53

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 12:02 PM

Coral Gables, FL.

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#9 CMacD

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 01:31 PM

Coral Gables, FL.

-Tim.


Is that a Donald Parker quote? :jump:

#10 Mike Phillips

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:05 PM

I like this thread, it came out on Google Plus in a recent hangout we had. I don't know if it is possible to get hard facts, but it would be a great exercise in data analysis to get location and historical seeing accounts over time. This way you could see with facts the conditions over time and what the influences might be.

Mike

PS I recall Percival Lowell sent an expedition to AZ for his Mars Observations. Initially there was excitement about Arizona, but I think they grew disappointed after a few oppositions no? My answer was Florida as well, but what do I know living in rare-good-seeing NC

#11 CMacD

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:15 PM

I like this thread, it came out on Google Plus in a recent hangout we had. I don't know if it is possible to get hard facts, but it would be a great exercise in data analysis to get location and historical seeing accounts over time. This way you could see with facts the conditions over time and what the influences might be.

Mike


Hey Mike - I was thinking. Just for fun it might be nice to create a script that grabs the "seeing" forecasts from the clear sky clock and add them together for a whole year and create the average seeing for the continent. I wonder if there are archives of this stuff that we could tap into now?

#12 Sunspot

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:17 PM

Percival Lowell liked northern Arizona because the seeing was much better than Boston. The seeing in northern Arizona is quite nice, but the story I heard while working at Lowell was that the people on the exhibition preferred Flagstaff for the bars and brothels. :lol: :lol:

Paul

BTW, I have heard that southern New Mexico has some fabulous seeing (see nmsouthernskies.com ). They were at the ASAE in Tucson and told me that sub .5" seeing is common.

I like this thread, it came out on Google Plus in a recent hangout we had. I don't know if it is possible to get hard facts, but it would be a great exercise in data analysis to get location and historical seeing accounts over time. This way you could see with facts the conditions over time and what the influences might be.

Mike

PS I recall Percival Lowell sent an expedition to AZ for his Mars Observations. Initially there was excitement about Arizona, but I think they grew disappointed after a few oppositions no? My answer was Florida as well, but what do I know living in rare-good-seeing NC



#13 Mike Phillips

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:17 PM

That would be a great and easy start. I don't think CSK is archived though? That aside, the forecast is typically off as most folks can attest to. If we did get a good seeing by season and geography map should we weight it by % of clear skies too? :)

Mike

#14 bunyon

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:21 PM

I think, perhaps, regions are being painted with too broad a brush.

"Southern Arizona" - down in the desert or up on a peak? Same for Southern NM - at 10K feet in Cloudcroft or at White Sands. I have precisely one data point for each but had great seeing in Cloudcroft and terrible in White Sands.

It will also vary over seasons. Most of the areas listed have periods of good seeing. But, if you're asking this question, I don't imagine you're interested in a few weeks a year. I'd look to see where the big scopes are located and follow that.

#15 CMacD

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:33 PM

I'd look to see where the big scopes are located and follow that.


Excellent idea, but, as I would like to "park" my roboscope trailer somewhere for years on end would there be a big scope place that would allow me to do that? Ultimately that is what I am looking for.

#16 bunyon

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:14 PM

Well, I was just talking more in general.

But you might see if there is a piece of land on a smaller mountain near one of the observatories.

#17 luigis

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:34 PM

Probably Barbados or any Eastern Caribbean Island, the laminar flow from the wind stabilizes the atmosphere.

In the US I'd guess the keys in Florida for the very same reasons.

#18 CMacD

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 04:33 PM

So I just set up a windows task to run every night and grab the midnight "Seeing" image from the clear sky clock for north america. After a while I should have some data. How accurate the data is ... I will average them in a month or so to see if any trends develop.

#19 skywatch

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 05:42 PM


Hey Mike - I was thinking. Just for fun it might be nice to create a script that grabs the "seeing" forecasts from the clear sky clock and add them together for a whole year and create the average seeing for the continent.


I believe this has been done. I'll see if I can dig it up.

-Rolf

#20 ToxMan

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 07:28 PM

There are some dark skies in southeastern Arizona toward Portal, north of Douglas. Also, there is some elevation. Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association has its Cochise site down there. Great for deep sky imaging and observing. It is about 2 hours drive.

For planetary imaging, flat open Arizona desert is usually just fine. But, you see some very rapid temperature changes. So, any devices, ie fans, are almost a must in the extremes of summer or winter; not so bad in fall and spring.

Unlike some parts of the US, we don't contend with dew as much. And, we have less rain. Which will come back to haunt us when the Colorado can't support an ever growing population. When that happens, it will just be coyotes and astronomers out here. A lot of ancient cultures just suddenly disappeared, like the Hohokam, Sinagua, Anasazi, Mogollon...and, I can't help think a lack of water was a major factor each time.

#21 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 05:34 AM

I hear tell that Southern Baja California has some of the best seeing around... From what I can figure, compared to most places, coastal San Diego has very good seeing.

Jon

#22 Tom Polakis

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:47 PM

I like this thread, it came out on Google Plus in a recent hangout we had. I don't know if it is possible to get hard facts, but it would be a great exercise in data analysis to get location and historical seeing accounts over time. This way you could see with facts the conditions over time and what the influences might be.

Mike

PS I recall Percival Lowell sent an expedition to AZ for his Mars Observations. Initially there was excitement about Arizona, but I think they grew disappointed after a few oppositions no? My answer was Florida as well, but what do I know living in rare-good-seeing NC



The seeing in northern Arizona is comparable to that of Chilean observatories, as long as you know where to set up. It doesn't need to be a tall peak, either. The best site would be a small rise over the surrounding terrain, preferably overlooking a cliff that faces the prevailing southwest wind.

That's how the Discovery Channel Telescope is sited. Rather than anecdotal statements, Lowell Observatory astronomers made measurements over a number of nights, and showed a median value of 0.84 arcsec FWHM, with a first quartile average of 0.62".

Here is the site testing paper

I have always wondered how the legendary Florida sites would stack up if they were measured in the same manner.

Tom

#23 AstroDan2015

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 03:00 PM

Hi Clark,

I agree with Luis. The Florida Keys, they have my vote. I think a home located on the north end of Pig Pine Key (latitude +24) would be spectacular for planetary imaging, this dark sky site would place jupiter at an altitude of 87 degrees! You'll need to get out of the wind though which picks up at night and have two anti dew straps attached to the end of a SCT, or build yourself an observatory.

Cheers, Dan :)

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#24 CMacD

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:36 PM

The seeing in northern Arizona is comparable to that of Chilean observatories...
Here is the site testing paper
Tom


Thanks Tom. This looks like a really good read.

#25 DesertRat

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:19 PM

When Lowell sent A.E. Douglass out west for a site survey he stopped down south at Tombstone and later Tucson before heading north. For 1894 that was in itself a step forward compared to where they used to place observatories. Douglass encountered bad weather in the south and was being rushed by PL. Later they regretted not taking more time.

By the way he also stopped at Tempe later!

One fellow who sometimes posts here (Mike Wirths) has a B&B down in Baja Mx: www.bajadarkskies.com If you want to spend some time there I think it would be a great location.

Glenn






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