I Want a Astronomy Vacation ! Any Tips?
Posted 07 February 2013 - 01:12 AM
Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:23 AM
Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:56 AM
Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:15 AM
The star parties folder within Cloudynights forums has a new thread for 2013 star parties with links.
Sky and Telescope's website www.skypub.com has links to star parties, and astronomy clubs by state.
Florida's winter star party season is underway, I think, and that's a fine destination for wildlife, ocean or gulf and astronomy.
Living in the southwest I may be biased but I think that this region is your best bet. How about the Grand Canyon Star Party "GCSP" in early-mid June? There are other star parties or astronomy festivals at SW USA National Parks that would let you view through many scopes, talk with dozens of volunteer astronomers, and stay up with the hardier volunteers for more observing. Aside from the June 8-16 GCSP, there are similar events between May and September at Bryce Canyon in Utah, Great Basin in Nevada and Yellowstone in Wyoming/Montana, just to name a few; spring and fall have 2-day events at Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada or Death Valley in California too.
There are astronomy destinations to visit like Lowell Observatory (you can stay for public viewing most nights) and Kitt Peak in Arizona; Griffith Observatory and more in Los Angeles; and Missile Range, Robert Goddard, and Space History museums near White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns near Alamogordo in southern New Mexico.
Tyler Nordgren's book, "Stars Above, Earth Below" is a good companion to National Park astronomy. The National Park service website has links to the growing number of star parties, look under www.nps.gov
I imagine there are some dark sky sites and star parties in your New England area down to PA, VA, NJ mid-Atlantic states, one of those could be used as a trial for this astronomy travel idea if you want.
Flying then driving is a good plan. My family and I drive 500 - 1,200 mile round trips to regional outreach star parties and enjoy the hikes, nature/wildlife views or local museums, culture, food, etc., on these trips. We weave in places to see along the way, and sometimes stock up for birthdays and holidays with local food or gift items from different states.
We've flown with 80mm short refractor and binoculars in carry-on and a solid photo tripod in checked bag; under dark skies portable equipment won't disappoint.
Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:45 AM
Posted 07 February 2013 - 05:15 PM
Posted 07 February 2013 - 06:59 PM
For actual observing you might find a dark sky here.
Posted 07 February 2013 - 08:59 PM
Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:47 AM
Posted 08 February 2013 - 01:11 PM
• Astronomy vacation with observing under dark skies or observatory visits
• Flying in to a region then driving a rented vehicle
• Traveling alone, bringing at most a compact scope or binoculars along on trip
• With safety a consideration, seeking a destination with other astronomers and scopes to share -- not a remote roadside pullout
• Longer duration trip (week plus)
Elisek, what were you considering for lodging? ‘Yavapai lodge’ at Grand Canyon offers motel-like rooms walking distance from telescopes at GCSP, and Mather campground is almost as close, with widely spaced tent and RV sites that seem secure (and have some shade too). Some other star parties have cabins to rent ahead of time, otherwise a drive to and from the observing site, or else tent camping (unless you rent an RV) might be required.
1) For all-astronomy event, a observer-focused star party like the Okie-Tex, Texas Star Party, Nebraska Star Party, Enchanted Skies Star Party (westernmost of these, near Socorro NM), etc., will have little or no public outreach and are focused on night time amateur observing, with daytime non-astronomy activities secondary (aside from solar observing, and usually an extensive daytime astronomy speaker program). These locations have very dark skies.
2) For a wider range of activities National Park outreach-focused star parties, with the Grand Canyon Star Party ‘GCSP’ having the longest duration through two June weekends, offer more daytime non-astronomy activity (aside from solar observing and some, but more limited, daytime talks) like hiking, scenic location, etc. Bryce Canyon in UT might be 2nd place at 4-5 days for ‘biggest/longest astronomy festival’ after GCSP; and Great Basin in NV is a more remote and less visited park but their 3-4 day festival has really dark skies. Many volunteers stay set up for hours after the public participants retire for the night, so there are ‘serious’ observing opportunities for hours after ~ 1030-11 PM each night. NV (Great Basin and other locations all more than a couple hours from Las Vegas) and UT (Bryce Canyon, and points east from there in south-central UT) have truly dark skies; and the skies at GCSP on the South Rim in AZ surprised me, exceeding my expectations both for an open horizon and very dark deep sky views.
3) The OP could also or instead go to an observing ‘resort’ like Star Hill Inn, etc., there are several places like this in NM, AZ, and also Baja California (Mexico). These cater to a person or small group who wants to use the resort’s telescope(s).
Observatories or museums, or other regional gems -- like Carlsbad/White Sands/Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge, if going to NM; or Petrified Forest/Painted Desert/Wupatki/Meteor Crater, from GCSP -- can be fit into the trip easily based on either type of star party above.
The biggest star parties, like those listed under 1) and 2) above, are planned for minimal impact from moonlight. In the SW USA, early summer is a safer bet than late summer with greater chance of 'monsoon' afternoon thunderstorms. While these can disrupt camping they don't always spoil an entire night of observing.
Posted 08 February 2013 - 04:01 PM
The bad news is that lodging fills fast, so if you do intend more than a night or two stay, you'll need to book something soon.
For more about the event, and lodging hints, check the links here:
Grand Canyon Star Party Thread
Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:12 PM
Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:48 AM
Amateur Astronomers Group
Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:16 AM
Posted 12 February 2013 - 06:09 AM
I donot think that the StarHill Inn is in business now, but New Mexico Skies is an option, also not cheap but great location, optics (I like the 25"), great support from staff.
Camping in the National Parks is a cheap option with beautiful surroundings.
Posted 12 February 2013 - 08:11 AM
Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:32 AM