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#1 tim53

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:24 PM

Hoping to close escrow on some rocks and sand near Joshua Tree NP next week! More details to come.

-Tim.

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#2 tim53

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:27 PM

It's a 2 acre lot near the park entrance. In the pic above, I'm standing on top of a 50' high rock pile on the NE half of the lot, looking down at my van on a pad graded by the previous (well, current!) owner, who'd planned on putting a 3000 sq ft house on it. The pad is big enough for a cabin, a garage/workshop and a couple or 3 observatories. So, keep your digits crossed that we close without a hitch next week!

-Tim.

#3 tim53

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:35 PM

I already have an observatory of sorts in our LA historic home: Hatch Observatory

But it's in a white zone, so planetary mostly only.

I have also been hauling my scopes out to Milford, Utah a couple or 3 times a year for some REALLY dark skies (black zone!), but it's 500 miles one way, so I don't get out there much.

Milford site

At least Joshua Tree is just over 2 hours from our LA home, so I'm likely to go out there at least a couple weekends a month!

There is a light dome from Palm Springs/Indio to the south that's sort of a pain, but overhead is very dark. I was surprised that light from Yucca Valley wasn't bad. I could even see the zodiacal light that way when we went out there over new moon in January.

-Tim.

#4 1965healy

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:45 PM

My grandparents owned a ranch in Juniper Hills 50 years ago, beautiful skies! My dad did a lot of work at Edwards AFB, my name is scrawled in the concrete on a few hangers and runways out there as well as some middle silos at Vandenberg AFB. Skies were so dark and clear 50 years ago, most kids will never see the milky way, sad.
Hope you close and get to start enjoying your land soon! I love Highland Park, a great old LA neighborhood that still has it's charm.

#5 tim53

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:51 PM

I have to say I am surprised at how dark it is out there still. Here's another pan, taken with the iphone before sunup on the lot. South is about the center of the pic, the hill in sunlight is west and the one in shadow on the left is east. So, morning and evening planets and comets will be obscured somewhat by the local horizon mask, but the south horizon is good.

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#6 Calypte

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 10:55 PM

We moved to Anza last year. I came out many times during the past 10 years to a friend's property, which happens to be within walking distance of our new digs. It's dark here compared to every previous place I've lived, but I'd swear it's not as dark as it was 10 years ago or even 5 years ago. I've put up an observatory, and at my age (68) it's probably the darkest place I'll ever have for regular observing. Our brightest & largest light dome is Temecula-Murrieta and everything west and northwest. We also have light domes from Palm Desert, San Diego and even El Centro (a minor light dome). Low clouds over San Diego really reduce the light dome in that direction. Clouds over the Inland Empire have the same effect, but they're far less frequent. We own a small piece of property near Show Low, AZ, that's very, very dark, but it's too far away for regular visits. I hope you can keep your dark sky! I was blindsided by a nearby casino development when we lived in Temecula.

#7 csa/montana

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 11:21 PM

:fingerscrossed: Wishing you the very best in closing on this property! :)

#8 tim53

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 12:10 AM

I used to go to the OCA site near Anza, but it's been several years since I was last there. According to the dark sky finder map, Joshua Tree is also in a green zone, but it seems darker than that, or the map isn't detailed enough to show darker "holes" that might be too small for it. I think having the hills in the direction of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree (town) and Twentynine Palms helps "shade" the air above the lot from being lit, kind of like being at the bottom of a well or something? (referring to the suggestion that you can see bright stars in daytime from a well, though I've never tried!).

Plus, it can't hurt that the National Park is to the south and east of the site.

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#9 Calypte

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 12:44 AM

I used to go to the OCA site near Anza, but it's been several years since I was last there.

Our place is 6.2 miles ENE of the OCA site. I haven't been to the OCA site at night since 1998, but I've been told by people who've observed both here and OCA that our area in Terwilliger Valley is a bit darker. I have no doubt that your new place will be significantly darker than Anza, but I would worry about seeing. A GMARS regular told me that poor seeing is a frequent problem there.

#10 tim53

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 12:52 AM

A local amateur astronomer across the street from this lot says it's better there because the mountains keep the wind down better than on the flats, but of course it is the desert.

I was at The Sky's The Limit in 29 palms a few weeks ago. They had some solar scopes set up, and I was surprised that the seeing was rather good that day.

But no huge worries. I do planets from LA mostly. But it doesn't really get dark here!

-Tim.

#11 CharlesW

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 09:31 AM

I own a 3 1/2 season house on the other side of the hill in Indio. I've been drooling over some of the land prices around you for an obs. But, my fear is that one of the locals will borrow my stuff when I'm not there and forget to tell me.

#12 tim53

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 10:07 AM

I had similar concerns, but the guy across the street from this lot is also an amateur astronomer and lives there full time. He's even offered to put a webcam up on his workshop pointed at the lot. Of course, there's nothing there to borrow - yet!

-Tim.

#13 cn register 5

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 11:42 AM

Sorry to interrupt but what is a 3 1/2 season house?

Chris

#14 Calypte

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 12:57 PM

Sorry to interrupt but what is a 3 1/2 season house?

Chris

Sounds like it's unoccupied during the heat of summer.

#15 CharlesW

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 09:26 AM

We live most of the time in Chula Vista, a bedroom city in San Diego. Three years ago we were able to buy a getaway in Indio, about 20 miles east of Palm Springs. We go there as much as we can, Fall, Winter, and Spring. But it is common to see 115 degrees in July and August so we don't go as much. It's a few degrees cooler where Tim is buying but he will experience the wonders of the desert blast furnace, too.

#16 Mirzam

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 10:15 AM

Congrats Tim!

I'm envious. The number of clear nights at our dark site is pretty low unfortunately.

Keep an eye out for those little pink rattlesnakes. They pack a nasty bite and they like rocks!

JimC

#17 tim53

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 10:57 AM

One of the reasons for buying close to the park is the summer heat. When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to go to the park frequently. We discovered the best kept secret of JT, around the summer of 72, IIRC. We'd go up to Idyllwild on a full moon weekend and camp there Friday night. Saturday morning, we'd hike the trails until about 3pm. Then, we'd hop in the van and head to JT in the late afternoon. We'd be setting up camp an hour or so before sundown. At the time, it was just a National Monument with no entrance fees. The peak tourist season then was spring or fall. Summer, they closed all but the front loop of Jumbo Rocks campground, so we'd camp there and have it all to ourselves. At night, we'd hike around under the full moon when temperatures were in the 70s. Wildlife was everywhere.

So, unless things have changed and it's crowded even in the summertime, I figure there will still be things to do in August out there!

As an aside, along those lines, the neighbor said that the problem with escrow closing next week is that it's already getting too hot to work out there. I jokingly said "we'lll come over full moon weekends and build at night!" :grin:

Seriously, I think the first thing to do will be to put in a septic tank. Then, we'll look for a used travel trailer or motorhome that we can park on the lot for facilities while we build. There's a water meter and power is nearby, so we could probably hook up a trailer with power, water and septic for the mid term while we come up with plans for a small cabin and observatory or two.

We'll know more in a week!

-Tim.

#18 hm insulators

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 03:00 PM

Good luck with your new property!

#19 tim53

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 04:04 PM

It's paid for now, so we're just waiting for it to record. Still should happen before the weekend!

-Tim.

#20 gmartin02

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:49 PM

Congratulations Tim!

I am sooo envious (in a non-resentful way).

I have been fantasizing about having a scoping shack away from city lights (orange zone at my house) for many years.

Well - 3 kids later (the second just about through college) and it is time for me to start thinking about this again. I hope to get serious about it in about 3-4 more years.

I live in north Los Angeles County, so my areas of choice (within 2 hours driving distance) are either Cuyama Valley (blue zone) or Onyx - east of Lake Isabella (gray zone).

Continue to keep us posted on your new astro property. I can use you as inspiration until I can get one for myself.

Side note: With Southern California's huge population base and lots of relatively dark Mojave Desert, with so many clear, relatively warm nights per year, I always wonder why no-one has yet attempted to start a formal astronomy community in California? Perhaps someday.

Greg

#21 Calypte

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:08 AM

I always wonder why no-one has yet attempted to start a formal astronomy community in California? Perhaps someday.

Probably because most of those with the money and interest know that it'll be even darker at remote sites in AZ and NM, or (apparently) in the Sierra Nevada, and there'll be less risk of losing the dark sky in those places. I'd think Onyx would be pretty good. I lost my dark sky in Temecula to a hotel and casino, built on land that I imagined (when we moved there in 1993) would be forever safe from development. You just never know what's going to come from left field to ruin things. Probably the least-threatened areas would be around the fringes of the Mojave National Preserve, but isn't that mostly BLM land? Greg, you might be interested to know that what is now Santa Clarita was once considered dark enough that LAAS had dark-sky star parties nearby (a place called Cassidy Ranch). I had a friend who moved to Lancaster in 1950, and I remember how Newhall and beyond along US Hwy 6 (now Hwy 14) was pitch black at night.

#22 tim53

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:59 AM

Greg

Precisely why now
Is because I wanted to get started before I am too old to build one. And too old to appreciate it once I do. I just turned 60 so I have several years before retiring, so if I build in Utah now I won't be using it more than 3 or 4 times a year. It's very dark out there though so I will probably go out there more often when I do retire, but unless we sell our house in LA, Joshua tree will still be our "main" retirement/vacation home.

#23 tim53

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:00 AM

Biggest problem with the outlying areas in the Mohave is that nobody is there to watch your stuff.

#24 tim53

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 11:08 AM

I thought about NM/AZ astro communities. But that's farther than Milford, Utah. I was also encouraged to consider Kanab, Utah, by some friends there. It's about as far as Milford though, and prices seem to be around $25k/acre. Milford is closer to $1k/acre for vacant land out of town. We have 48 acres there.

It is awesomely dark there though, so I'll use it when I can. They get very high windstorms though. I've been thinking if hanging an anvil on a chain for a windsock.

Tim

#25 Calypte

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:30 PM

Greg

Precisely why now
Is because I wanted to get started before I am too old to build one. And too old to appreciate it once I do. I just turned 60 so I have several years before retiring, so if I build in Utah now I won't be using it more than 3 or 4 times a year. It's very dark out there though so I will probably go out there more often when I do retire, but unless we sell our house in LA, Joshua tree will still be our "main" retirement/vacation home.

I'm 68 now. We did two things about this: move to Anza (not ultimate dark sky, but much better than Temecula) and build the observatory now. So I had BYO build it for me. I know there are guys who are really big on DIY, but I thought if I went that route, I'd be looking at a pile of lumber several years before I got started. I don't have a lot of years left. We went through Milford, UT, last year when returning from the annular eclipse. I didn't see much around there. Should be very dark. We have a small piece of property between Show Low & Concho AZ, and it's very, very dark there, and we thought about pulling up stakes and moving there. But we have family here in so. Calif., and we're natives. It's home.

Edited to add: Tim, 15 mos. ago I never expected we'd be here. When we listed our home in Temecula in Feb '12 I thought in the current market it'd never sell, certainly not without a lot of sprucing up. Our realtor convinced us that it didn't need much sprucing, so we listed the home, and it sold in 10 days. We had an offer before it was even on the MLS. Since we bought in 1993, even after the crash we had quite a bit of equity, and the home here in Anza was only $150K for a bigger home with 2.73 acres of property, mostly still in native vegetation. I don't know your situation WRT equity, but it may be easier to sell your current home than you think.






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