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Do night-time critters like to look at DSOs?

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#1 FoggyEyes

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 08:51 PM

Our club's mailing list has a discussion going on about observing at our dark-sky sites. A few have reported hearing noises from the trees or bushes and not knowing what might be causing the noise since, of course, it's very dark. There are bobcats in those areas, black bears are becoming more common and there are lots of dear in Ohio. So, fending off mosquitoes is one thing, but black bears? I guess going in a group is one option and staying in the middle of the group.

#2 desertlens

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 09:01 PM

... or being able to run faster than at least one person in the group. :cool:
I think most critters will avoid you. The bears can be unpredictable if provoked. There are bears in my location too but I've never seen one and feel safe when observing. I enjoy hearing the owls though and have had a couple of visits from bats.

#3 StarmanDan

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 09:37 PM

At one of my club's dark site we have deer that meander through the field. They are so used to us being there at night that many will come right up to you while you're observing and give you that look of "can I take a peek?"

#4 Tony Flanders

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 05:27 AM

Our club's mailing list has a discussion going on about observing at our dark-sky sites. A few have reported hearing noises from the trees or bushes and not knowing what might be causing the noise since, of course, it's very dark. There are bobcats in those areas, black bears are becoming more common and there are lots of dear in Ohio. So, fending off mosquitoes is one thing, but black bears?


Sure, I hear noises in the bushes all the time, whether in city, suburb, or country. Deer are usually the loudest by far.

We have both black bears and mosquitos at my country home, and I'll take the black bears over the mosquitos any day or night. I have never heard of a stargazer being attacked by a black bear; it seems exceedingly unlikely.

#5 MikeBOKC

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:18 AM

The only two North American critters I would have any concern about at a remote site would be grizzly bears and cougars, both of which have been known to conduct predatory attacks on people. Beyond that there is really nothing else out there to be concerned about, since the other wildlife has a natural aversion to people and will walk wide circles around you. Night time critters like to eat . . . that's what they are out doing. Don't mess with them and they won't mess with you.

#6 csrlice12

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:59 AM

It's ok, mosquito's don't bother black bears.....its why they're not distracted while chasing you....... :lol:

#7 Qwickdraw

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 08:19 AM

The only two North American critters I would have any concern about at a remote site would be grizzly bears and cougars,


Black bears have also been known to kill people.

#8 csrlice12

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 09:05 AM

Lone astronomers are the favorite target of black bears in helicopters.......

Got chased by a bear with a cub in Michigan's northern penensula one night.....we got lucky. Ran out of gas at the wrong spot.

#9 Tony Flanders

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:01 AM

The only two North American critters I would have any concern about at a remote site would be grizzly bears and cougars,


Black bears have also been known to kill people.


They have. So have rattlesnakes, scorpions, bees, and of course domestic dogs. All of these are small threats compared to, say, getting struck by lightning, however.

I'm just stating that while I do know at least one case of a stargazer having a scary encounter with a cougar, I've never heard of one having a scary encounter with a black bear. And many of us observe in areas where black bears are quite common.

#10 csa/montana

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:06 AM

but black bears? I guess going in a group is one option and staying in the middle of the group.



Yep; that way the bear can have a full meal, plus dessert. :lol:

#11 csrlice12

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:19 AM

...moral of the story: Always go viewing with someone slower then you......

#12 Seldom

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:26 AM

So have rattlesnakes, scorpions, bees, and of course domestic dogs. All of these are small threats compared to, say, getting struck by lightning, however.

I guess all the above are nocturnal during the summer. I'm curious about your hazard statistics source. Is lightning that much more of a hazard?

#13 brianb11213

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 10:56 AM

The only two North American critters I would have any concern about at a remote site would be grizzly bears and cougars,


Black bears have also been known to kill people.

I reckon humans are a far worse hazard than any wild animals ...

#14 mountain monk

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 11:13 AM

Deaths from...whatever we are paranoid about...

Lightening, about 50.
Bears, 2-5.
Snakes, about a dozen.
Cougars, a couple.
Wolves, zero.
Automobiles....

Chill, dude.

Dark skies.

Jack

#15 Seldom

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 11:14 AM

To get back to the thread topic. Any ideas which of the creatures discussed might be able to SEE DSOs?

#16 star drop

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 11:21 AM

Our club's mailing list has a discussion going on about observing at our dark-sky sites. A few have reported hearing noises from the trees or bushes and not knowing what might be causing the noise since, of course, it's very dark. There are bobcats in those areas, black bears are becoming more common and there are lots of dear in Ohio. So, fending off mosquitoes is one thing, but black bears? I guess going in a group is one option and staying in the middle of the group.

The noise might be caused by members of a competing astronomy club scheming to take over your observing site.

#17 mountain monk

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 11:26 AM

I doubt we know what critters LIKE to do, but...

Bears have poor eyesight.

My vote would be for owls. Tawny owls have a 13mm pupil, and the image on their retina is twice as bright as ours, so they could see DSOs.

Dark skies.

Jack

#18 star drop

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 12:02 PM

To get back to the thread topic. Any ideas which of the creatures discussed might be able to SEE DSOs?

The original poster, FoggyEyes, immediately struck off on a tangent from the thread title. However here is some information on bird vision. I expect that birds should be able to see the nuances of the Milky Way and that possibly some of the nighttime migratory birds might take note of the stars. Our tropical birds watch television and sometimes interact with it displaying a marked level of intelligence.
My nighttime critter observations:
Our horses on the other hand do not appear to pay any attention to the night sky. They seem to be unmoved by meteor storms (2001), bright aurora, medical evacuation helicopters and tree top skimming C130's. All they do is eat and listen for sounds that might be those of a predator. Deer and cows act the same way.
Cats are not interested in the night sky other than noticing a bird, insect or bat flying above. Our barn cats would clog up my ladder, perch on our shoulders, fight in the rocker box and pester us for attention. Not once did they look into an eyepiece.
Chickens and coyotes do pay attention to moon rise but I doubt they notice anything more.
Skunks, raccoons, porcupines, opossums, foxes are all busy with ground level activity.
Black bears are extremely evasive and I have not seen one except for those hit by vehicular traffic. My family and neighbors have seen them nearby however. We have a few acres of woods loaded with blackberry bushes. At times I have walked there at night without using a flashlight only to hear animals rustling to keep out of my way. Nothing has ever confronted me even though I must have disturbed them feeding.

#19 Jay_Bird

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 01:51 PM

Aside from the moon only noisy/moving objects in sky seem to interest dogs

But dung beetles were recently proved to use the band of the milky way across the sky as a navigation reference - I think that counts as a DSO...

#20 spencerj

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:48 PM

Guess I am just a suburban backyard observer. I don't worry about bears or cougars or rattlesnakes. No. My biggest fear is startling a skunk. Anytime I get that quiet, unnerving feeling of being watched, I know they are close. I can identify 3 of them by sight.

#21 sg6

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 04:19 PM

If a black bear taps you on the shoulder and asks to have a look then let him. :help: :help: :help:

#22 JayinUT

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 05:56 PM

We have a club member (in SLAS) who last July/August got visited by a bear while he was out observing in the mountains southeast of the Spanish Fork area. (southeast of Fairview at a place called Potters Pond, here is a map next to 19 and 20 at the bottom) He did have a package of graham crackers and a bottle of canola oil out and the bear loved him. His trailer got some damage but not his equipment. The bear eventually left. Here are pictures from his gallery at the SLAS Gallery if your interested in looking at them.

Now, I don't fear bears but I usually do take food when I camp over for a day or two and it is a good reminder that if in bear country, take the necessary precautions so you don't attract them.

To the OP, I only get "worried" when I allow my mind to freak myself out. Noises in trees are owls, one of our spots we have nicknamed Owl Roost for just such a reason. Coyotes don't bother me, I like their howls. Noises in the grass are usually night time birds that will begin to chirp after making the noise. If I am by myself I always take my iPod Classic and my iHome speaker and listen to music or an astronomy podcast if I get worried. I am more aware I fear and watch for headlights in the distance that might be coming my way at 1:00a.m. That gets my attention more than animals. I have yet to be bothered by animals.

Out of all of these the coyotes as mention would look up I guess at the sky and the Great Horn Owls with their eyes. I did have three of them fly around me and my friend Alan as we were observing last year at the place we call Owls Roost and that was rather cool. I guess they were looking at DSO's, Dorky Sky Observers. :lol:

#23 davebuechler

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 06:35 PM

My vote would be for owls. Tawny owls have a 13mm pupil, and the image on their retina is twice as bright as ours, so they could see DSOs

.

I would love to have owl vision (during observing sessions), aside from the large pupil size, they are truly color blind having only have rods in their eyes making their dim light acuity infinitely sharper than ours.

#24 bherv

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:22 PM

I observe in the sparsely populated Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. Many nights I am all alone with my scope, but only 20 feet from my camper in case I feel the need to run inside. There are various animals in the area. I have seen and heard deer in the woods, heard what I believe was a moose vocalizing, coyotes along with other small creatures. I have seen fresh bear tracks in the snow but generally I feel safe. There have been an occasional mountain lion sighting in the area (despite the state's claims that there are none in the state) which is the only animal that would be of a concern to me. Most bear in the area are looking for food so they usually migrate to areas closer to where people are, raiding bird feeders, dumpsters and other easily accessible food sources.
Barry

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#25 bunyon

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 07:34 PM

Noises in the brush are probably mice or rabbits. It doesn't take much to freak out a lone observer who is focused on stars and tired.

Skunks do worry me. It won't kill me but think about how terrible it would be to get sprayed. Or, worse, to have your scope get sprayed.

I've been visited by deer on a number of occasions. They're good observing buddies.






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