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I Want to go on a Astronomy Vacation ! Any Tips?

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#1 elisek

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 12:59 AM

Hi. I live in Massachusetts, and y'all seem to know alot so here goes: I need to go on a astronomy vacation - by myself - that will be cheap but amazing. Do you have any suggestions? Even if I go soon? I was thinking Arizona or Florida, which ever has the most astronomical related places to see. Are there any people who work as guides for this sort of thing. I'm open to all suggestions and places where i can pack light yet do all night observing too. Thanks

#2 kfiscus

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 07:38 PM

Plan with the moon phases in mind. People have gone to a lot of work and then realized to their horror that their dark is going to be compromised.

#3 FirstSight

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

Basic question: Is your primary goal touring astronomy-related historical sites, e.g.Lowell Observatory in Arizona, space program-related sites, science museums with particularly rich astronomical sections, etc.
OR
Is your primary goal going to some ideal dark-sky observing sites?

...if the latter, a relatively inexpensive idea would be going to one of the major star parties in the western part of the United States, such as Texas SP, Okie-Tex, Nebraska, Oregon. Or, Stellafane much closer to where you live in the NE. I think there may be one somewhere in Utah/Great Basin as well. Star party weeks tend to be more geared toward camping out, although some of them do have cabins on-site or are within commuting distance of motels (though you typically have to park off-premises by sundown if you're going to be leaving before dawn). Although most people bring their own scopes and gear to star parties, in general if you're polite and considerate with folks, there's usually plenty of people willing to share views with you through their scopes at star parties. It's not very difficult at all to sense which folks are concentrating on specific observing projects and more or less want to be left alone to do their thing uninterrupted, and which folks are in a gregariously sharing mood.

There are also a handful of very small resorts in New Mexico/Arizona which cater to astro-tourists, others from that area will have more information about which ones are currently in business, and whether you have to bring your scope or whether they have some available for use or rent.

#4 rookie

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 09:34 PM

If you head to the Florida Keys you can see the Southern Cross rise above the horizon. It's dark in many of the sites down there too. The Winter Star Party is meeting there this week.

#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 10:24 PM

Hi. I live in Massachusetts, and y'all seem to know alot so here goes: I need to go on a astronomy vacation - by myself - that will be cheap but amazing. Do you have any suggestions? Even if I go soon? I was thinking Arizona or Florida, which ever has the most astronomical related places to see. Are there any people who work as guides for this sort of thing. I'm open to all suggestions and places where i can pack light yet do all night observing too. Thanks


This is where I would go...

Baja Dark Skies Inn

It's south of San Diego in Mexico about half a day's drive. Fly into San Diego, visit the Palomar observatory, maybe Mt Wilson in LA, maybe JPL...

Jon

#6 David Pavlich

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 10:31 PM

Since your going to be up to your epilets in snow, you ought to consider a southern states winter star party. Nothing like going to an event that is nothing but like minded people!

David

#7 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:33 AM

You may also want to consider New Mexico Skies near Cloudcroft, assuming that it's not yet solely a remote imaging site.

http://www.nmskies.c...mexicosite.html

http://www.jdvstudio...oSkies/NewMe...

Two friends and I went there in 2005 and had a very good time. We rented a 30" Tectron Dob.

There are quite a few astronomically related places to visit in the general area, including the Apache Point and NSO Sacramento Peak observatories, the White Sands Missile Range Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Space History, and the Very Large Array.

http://www.apo.nmsu.edu/

http://nsosp.nso.edu/

http://www.wsmr-history.org/

http://www.nmspacemuseum.org/

http://www.vla.nrao.edu/

Oh yeah, there's also Roswell.

Dave Mitsky

#8 csrlice12

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:45 AM

Only one.....take me with you!!!!!!

#9 Wcclower

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 12:30 PM

My wife and I just booked a couple of nights here:
http://www.brokenbow...08/hanks-place/
VERY dark skies and only $135.00 a night. Can set the scope right close to the hottub!
Craig

#10 Tony Flanders

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 01:43 PM

Hi. I live in Massachusetts, and y'all seem to know alot so here goes: I need to go on a astronomy vacation - by myself - that will be cheap but amazing ... I was thinking Arizona or Florida.


Restricting it to just those two states -- they're obviously very, very different from each other.

From the point of view of observing, Southern Florida is much farther south, allowing great views of parts of the sky that are never above the horizon in Massachusetts. On the other hand, Arizona obviously has better average viewing conditions.

What do you like to do during the day? Beaches -- or the Everglades -- are as different as you could possibly imagine from the Sonoran Desert. Of course beaches tend to attract people, who tend to bring lights. So finding good viewing spots on a beach isn't always so easy. In the desert, there's infinite space. Lots of space in the Everglades, too.

Southern Florida will be a lot warmer at night. The desert is plenty warm during the day when the Sun is out, but it chills out in a hurry at night. I wouldn't consider going to AZ at this time of year without long underwear, a down jacket, and a warm hat.

#11 hfjacinto

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 01:53 PM

3 words.

The Big Island

Yep go to Hawaii. I PROMISE you will never want to back home.

#12 hfjacinto

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 01:55 PM

Use this linky

#13 csrlice12

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 02:15 PM

I liked Kauai the best, especially over by the Napali coast. On the big island, if you are military/former military, there is a small Marine/Navy station near Volcano Nat'l Park that has cabins they rent. That area's pretty dark too (assuming the volcano's are quiet). AND, during the day, you can visit the volcanos...If you are an astonomy club member, maybe there is an astro society on the big island that has loner scopes as most will loan equipment to visiting astronomers......

#14 Gvs

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:31 PM

Inca Utama Hotel & Alapacha Amateur Observatory
12,300 feet - Lake Titicaca, Bolivia - South America

Starts in July

Here are some examples:

http://www.astronomi.../SSSPSkies.html

or

http://www.sssp.org/2010/MilkyWay.html

The experience is unforgettable, specially if the half of Earth's atmosphere is below you.

Some guidance regarding altitude. You can adapt, though it takes about 4 days to get your red blood cell count high enough so that altitude does not affect you. So try and go a couple of days earlier to enjoy it.

I am not related to this company though I was born in Bolivia and been lucky to have made observations throughout many observatories in this World. From as far up as Canada, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Argentina, Europe and of course Bolivia.

#15 BillFerris

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:37 AM

A visit to the desert Southwest could be planned around participation in the All-Arizona Messier Marathon. Hosted by the Saguaro Astronomical Society, AAMM is simply the best marathon event on the planet. Although the timing of the March new moon is not favorable for getting all 110 Messier objects--M30 will be exceedingly difficult--an "all but" total of 109 still makes for a great night of observing. Generally speaking, March can be an excellent time of year to do shirt sleeve observing in the low deserts of southern Arizona.

While in the Southwest US, why not visit one or more of the major observatories located there, including Kitt Peak National Observatory, Whipple Observatory, Lowell Observatory, the Very Large Array, Apache Point Observatory, Palomar Observatory and Big Bear Solar Observatory.

Bill in Flag

#16 Danzup77

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 02:16 AM

Awesome point ken!

#17 Doc Willie

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 08:51 AM

If you are talking other than winter, there is a small spot in Maine where a friend of mine has gone for several years. I think they even have a couple scopes available, but they are at least very astronomy-friendly. PM me if you want details.

#18 csrlice12

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 11:21 AM

Turn Left at Orion?

God I envy you.......

#19 jpcannavo

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 11:07 PM

I spent a week here 3 years ago, fabulous!!
http://www.arizona-d...com/contact.php
When I was there I rented a Dob from stellarvision:
http://www.stellarvi.../store_info.php

#20 csrlice12

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 11:19 AM

+1 on the SouthWest. Most of southern New Mexico and a good part of Northern New Mexico is a viewer's paradise. I lived in Edgewood, NM (about 35minutes East of Albq (On the OTHER side of the mountains, so no light dome to speak of). Had 5 acres in the middle of nowhere, best danged skies I ever seen on a regular basis. NM has over 300 days of clear skies a year--and it's high and dry. I used to just walk outside (stupid me, wasn't into astronomy at the time) and look up at the milky way. I'd swear the stars had stars there were so many of them. I know it was darker then the Dark Site here at Denver (Blue site). So it was at least a grey. Light Pollution--Hey, that milky way is so bright........

For sight seeing, NM has the large radio telescope array (seen in the movie "Contact"), we have White Sands (the only place in the world where you leave absolutely glowing!), We had a UFO about 50-60 years ago, but the gov't came took it--and Paul here tells me he wants it back.....Oh, and I'm not certain of the exit, but it's the exit off I-25 about 80 miles South of Albuquerque that goes to White Sands, Roswell (Roswell is another great fun place to visit with fellow star travelers-of another sort). At that exit is an old ghost town with one (at the time) business--The Owl Cafe--If you've never had a Green Chili Cheeseburger from them--you're missing a true life experience. Just drive East of there, you'll see plenty of spots to view (get there before dark though, because, literally, the only light you have is starlight.)

#21 GeneT

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 04:43 PM

Tonapah, NV. Or, you can drive from Tonapah to Ely, NV and stay anywhere along the way.

#22 JayinUT

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 04:45 PM

Great Basin Natl Park in September is a good one. Bryce Natl Park in June is always goods. You could do the grand tour, Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Zion, Byrce, Capital Reef and then Great Basin. Plenty to do during the day and night. I'd plan on 2 to 3 weeks and plan on camping. You could also go to The Wedge which is very very dark and is known as the Little Grand Canyon. Tony is right, even in the summer our desert here is a cold desert so bring some warm clothes.

#23 jrbarnett

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 11:21 AM

Well, by "Astronomy Vacation" do you mean a vacation in which the sole or primary recreational activity is astronomical observing, or rather a vacation with lots of interesting things to see and do in daylight, that also involves great observing at night? If the latter. think about what kinds of daytime activities you like, and chose a dark sky vacation spot that is conducive to those activities.

Also, do you like to camp or do you prefer to stay in a hotel/motel? Will you fly or drive? Do you have any special dietary or health care needs/requirements?

My club, OFLI, does a big astronomy vacation each year. Here are our last two trip reports. Either of these trips would have been fine solo as well, though both destinations are pretty far away for you, so I offer these as illustrations of the kinds of places we go and the kinds of things we do there.

http://www.cloudynig...hp?item_id=2673

http://www.cloudynig...hp?item_id=2804

Were I coming from Massachusetts, driving and planning on camping, and wanting an interesting place to hike, camp, sightsee and observe, I would probably choose either NW, Chaco Canyon area, or SE, Carlsbad Caverns area, New Mexico or NW Texas, Fort Davis area near the McDonald Observatory.

Regards,

Jim

#24 csrlice12

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 12:00 PM

+1 on New Mexico....the skies don't get much clearer and darker then that anywheres.......

#25 Gvs

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 03:49 PM

Here are another set of options:

http://www.nyaa.ca/g...starparties.pdf






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