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Which star party has THE best skies?

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#26 bicparker

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 09:53 AM

Although I've heard a lot about TSP, doesn't it have high humidity?


You're kidding, right?

#27 Rich56

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:03 AM

You're kidding, right?


No, I'm not actually. I've been in desert regions where there's been high humidity...it does happen. :)

#28 bicparker

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:42 AM

Rich,
I was just kidding you here.... TSP is dry dry dry, except when it is wet. The reason for my comment was that the average humidity there ranges from 12-20+% and it is often in the single digits during TSP.

We have had very rare times of humidity and even dewfall at TSP, but that is something for which one doesn't typically prepare during this event (unless you just happen to have your dew heaters in your go kit). Normally, if it is humid there, it has been raining.

Humidity does happen in the desert, or in this case, mountains surrounded by desert. It is just not something that I would characterize as a typical facet of TSP.

#29 Bernie Poskus

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:52 PM

David speaks the truth. TSP will be a humid star party when they move it to Houston, which will likely never happen. It is so dry and dusty there that the second time I went (first time, we did hit moisture repeatedly), I came down with a cough, and when I saw my doctor (because it wouldn't go away), he asked me if I'd been to a dusty place lately. When I told him I'd been to West Texas, he said I'd had an allergic reaction to all the dust and put me on steroids (good thing I'm not a track and field athlete). Now, when I go down there, I start on nasal spray and allergy meds a week before I go so that allergic reaction doesn't even have a chance to start.

#30 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 02:13 PM

It was actually rather wet at times at this year's Texas Star Party. There was enough rain on Friday that there were puddles on the grounds of the Prude Ranch.

Dave Mitsky

#31 George N

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 05:03 PM

The seeing at the Winter Star Party can be superb but it doesn't have extremely dark skies.

Dave Mitsky


I’ve only observed in Florida from the Atlantic coast, with bright sky in one direction, the over-ocean darkness in the other.

However, I have a friend who *lives* about a half-mile from the WSP site (with EdgeHD C-14 on a Titan mount), and another mutual friend who lives in south Florida, with lots of star party experience (including CSSP). They both recommend the Chiefland Star Party as the best compromise in Florida: darker sky, still often excellent seeing, almost as far south.

The guy who lives in the Keys is a marine biologist who often observes from Dry Tortugas and claims that island in the Gulf is excellent. However, he says we really need access to the mountains of Cuba – high, dry, dark, very far south, excellent Caribbean seeing.

I’ve also heard great things about the Keck visitors’ center at Mauna Kea, but they don’t have a star party there – yet! People think you’re crazy going to Hawaii with heavy winter clothing.

#32 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 11:52 AM

They aren't bad but I wouldn't call the skies at the Chiefland Astronomy Village terribly dark either. The Cedar Key Star Party's Shell Mound dark site is a bit better.

http://www.observing...s.com/ds_fl.htm

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#33 Zamboni

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 02:00 PM

I may be biased, but I'm partial to the skies at Rocky Mountain Star Stare near Gardner, CO. Exceptionally dark, dry, unobstructed and high altitude. Can't beat it.

#34 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 03:48 PM

However, I have a friend who *lives* about a half-mile from the WSP site (with EdgeHD C-14 on a Titan mount), and another mutual friend who lives in south Florida, with lots of star party experience (including CSSP). They both recommend the Chiefland Star Party as the best compromise in Florida: darker sky, still often excellent seeing, almost as far south.


How are the skies at WSP these days? I have not been there since 1997. At the time the west and northwest were not good, but south was fine. And of course WSP has some huge built in advantages:

1) 11+ hours darkness per night;

2) You can reach declination -66 degrees;

3) Laminar airflow results in consistently excellent seeing; and

4) You can do it all in a short-sleeved shirt during the winter.

#35 Rich56

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 04:55 PM

Rocky Mountain Star Stare? I've heard of it but not nearly as much as TSP or OSP.

Anybody ever been? and what did you think?

#36 MRoedel

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 09:54 PM

My wife and I went to RMSS in 2004. The skies were quite good. Lightning every afternoon.
We went to Weekend Under the Stars (Wyoming) the following year. Slightly darker, no daily afternoon lightning storms, +1000' higher elevation, pretty severe altitude sickness by the third day.
The following year we went to the NBANB Star Party on Mount Carleton in New Brunswick, Canada. The skies were darker yet. No light domes, but it was the end of black fly season. We both got a few bites. The park wasn't restricted to astronomers. No lighting etiquette. Most people were sleeping by midnight. Darkest skies I've seen so far.

#37 hbanich

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 03:10 PM

I'm surprised Tom Clark hasn't chimed in - or did I miss your post Tom? - but on several occasions he's said/written that OSP has the best combination of darkness, transparency and seeing of any of the star parties he's been to, and he's been to all the well known SP's across the country.

#38 SkyHound

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:14 PM

Mia Kea Star Party 9000 feet Hawaii...Nothing can touch it...

#39 kfiscus

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 06:09 PM

LONNNNNG drive.

#40 Tora

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 10:56 PM

LONNNNNG drive.


and wet.... :)

#41 Rich56

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 12:22 PM

Mia Kea Star Party 9000 feet Hawaii


Isn't that at the Mauna Kea Visitor Center?

#42 bicparker

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 06:22 AM

OzSky in Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia. After some consideration, it really is the darkest. One week near Siding Spring Observatory with absolutely stunning dark southern skies.

#43 FJA

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 06:35 AM

OzSky in Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia. After some consideration, it really is the darkest. One week near Siding Spring Observatory with absolutely stunning dark southern skies.


And I'm getting to experience it for myself next year, this time properly instead of the one-night rained-out experience of four years ago (I could only stay one night as I had to leave for a pre-booked pelagic birding trip at Wollongong, the least said of which the better! It was cancelled because of bad weather. I should have stayed at Coonabarabran and forgot the birding trip. :bawling: ), so I have some Unfinished Business! Can't wait!
:jump:

My previous experience of star parties is Queensland Astrofest in 1997 (pretty dark), four TSPs (among the darkest skies I've ever seen), our local Isle of Wight Star Party (reasonably dark but nowhere near the likes of TSP, etc, because it's not very far from the major south coast population centres of Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth, plus one of Europe's largest oil refineries) and the one night at OzSky 2009 (can't judge because of the one night I was there which was wet).
I'd live to do some of the other big US star parties in the future.

#44 iam1ru12

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Posted 07 August 2013 - 09:32 PM

I'll place a vote for the darkness of the skies at the Almost Heaven Star Party in West Virginia. AHSP arguably has some the darkest skies on the East Coast with a Bortle scale value of 2. However being at 4,200 feet above sea level provides for better seeing than most of the few very dark sites (in the gray light pollution zone) on the East coast. However being in WV mountains in the summer can expose you to some really nasty thunderstorms!

-Mike

#45 TonyF

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 03:47 PM

Here's my take on the few I've been to..

Table Mountain Star Party: It was dark, noticeable light dome from near by city. The year I went only 1 good night. Rest cloudy or rain. Left early.

Nebraska Star Party: Dark over-head, great deal of extinction towards the horizon. Mosquitoes were very numerous(I'm from California, so only a few skeeters). Damn cactus got me every night. Humid. 1 night good, 1 night cloudy, 1 night thunderstorms. Forecast for more rain. Left early.

Oregon Star Party: Very dark, seeing was just ok. Hot during day. 2 good nights, rained late saturday. Left on time. Heard the night b4 I showed up was the best, LOL! Year
before, paid but never went due to weather/smoke(it's a 13hr drive).

Golden State Star Party: Reasonably dark. Diurnal wind every night(It is located in a valley). No rain the few times I've been there. Noticeable extinction towards horizon. Stayed duration of 3 nights.

On most star parties.. If your lucky that year it is GREAT! If not, leaves that lasting impression of disappointment.

Best non star-party? Base of Mt. Whitney at 12k elevation. Darkest sky I've ever seen in my life, transparency was just mind boggling... LoL!! And that's with the oxygen deprivation.

TonyF






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