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Trip to Sedona, AZ

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#1 fungus57

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 05:09 PM

I'll be making a brief trip to wonderful Sedona, AZ in a few weeks to visit my sister, Sept 26-30. This is only my second time out there, but despite warnings of monsoon season, the observing has got to be clearer and loads darker than here in eastern PA.

My sister has a wonderful Astroscan telescope so I'll probably just bring along a few extra eyepieces and my 8x56 binos as none of my scopes are very practical for travel.

Any other suggestions while I am out there? I'd like to visit Lowell and try to get a peek through the Clark, but last time there they didn't seem particularly interested in opening the dome despite mostly clear skies.

Is anyone on here local to Sedona or Flagstaff area? I wouldn't mind checking out the skies or finding a good observing location with a fellow CN'er!

#2 KWB

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:18 AM

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#3 Kevdog

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:33 AM

Well hopefully your time here is like this last weekend. It finally cleared up on Thursday and was perfectly clear on Thurs - Sun, and it looks to continue.

I finally got the big dob out again for only the 3rd time since I bought it on July 31st. It was great to get it out again!

During the summer Lowell has late night viewing nights every night. Once fall sets in (not sure of the day) they go back to only having a few late nights. So check their website for times.

We've only been there once at night, but it was cooooold and we didn't wait in line for over an hour to see through the telescope.

Also, at noon they bring out a Coronado SolarMax II 60mm. If you've never seen through an Ha Solar Telescope, then that's a good thing to do too.

Meteor Crater is also neat to see. It's pretty darn big and very well preserved. I don't think there are many places on Earth you can view a crater that well!

Also if you can get up to the Big Ditch (aka Grand Canyon) at nighttime and go to one of the viewpoints after dark, you'll be treated to the darkest skies I've ever seen!

#4 dpippel

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:35 AM

Fungus, it looks like the monsoon has FINALLY departed the southwest so you should be good in Sedona on those dates weather-wise. If you want to get away from Sedona's lights without a long drive I'd suggest heading east towards Stoneman Lake (next exit on I-17 north of the Sedona exit). Lots of Coconino National Forest land out there with easy access.

And yes, the skies out here are orders of magnitude better than what you're experiencing in eastern PA. I lived near Wilkes-Barre for 7 years and finally had to come back to AZ. It's simply beautiful out here. :)

#5 fungus57

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 05:13 PM

Thanks guys. I did manage to see Meteor Crater and the Grand Canyon on my last trip, which were both absolutely stunning.

I wouldn't mind heading to the Grand Canyon again. What is access like after dark? Can you enter the park any time?

I did read about Stoneman lake and tried to find it last time I was out, I got close but the roads seemed pretty iffy and I didn't quite know where I was going once I got there, as well as a lot more trees than expected. I'll have to find a spot during the day and then head back at sunset this time. It gets pretty dark out there!

#6 Kevdog

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 06:22 PM

Thanks guys. I did manage to see Meteor Crater and the Grand Canyon on my last trip, which were both absolutely stunning.

I wouldn't mind heading to the Grand Canyon again. What is access like after dark? Can you enter the park any time?

I did read about Stoneman lake and tried to find it last time I was out, I got close but the roads seemed pretty iffy and I didn't quite know where I was going once I got there, as well as a lot more trees than expected. I'll have to find a spot during the day and then head back at sunset this time. It gets pretty dark out there!


Yes, you can enter the Grand Canyon at any time. I usually camp there, but you can drive in regardless. The campground is pretty poor for telescope use. The tall trees only give you small patches of sky.

If you go through the park and out to the east to one of the viewpoints, you can find one off the road with no lights and no trees.

One of the points like this one. Off the main road, so you won't be bothered by passing cars on 64 and also good sky access and a decent parking lot.

http://goo.gl/maps/5bZKA

The last time we were there my wife was too tired to drive very far. But it was the star party week and they actually had all the lights off at the visitor center. So we just parked up in the parking lot there with my camper blocking any cars that were entering and leaving and I had great views!

#7 dpippel

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 06:56 PM

Thanks guys. I did manage to see Meteor Crater and the Grand Canyon on my last trip, which were both absolutely stunning.

I wouldn't mind heading to the Grand Canyon again. What is access like after dark? Can you enter the park any time?

I did read about Stoneman lake and tried to find it last time I was out, I got close but the roads seemed pretty iffy and I didn't quite know where I was going once I got there, as well as a lot more trees than expected. I'll have to find a spot during the day and then head back at sunset this time. It gets pretty dark out there!


Yes, you can enter the Grand Canyon at any time. I usually camp there, but you can drive in regardless. The campground is pretty poor for telescope use. The tall trees only give you small patches of sky.

If you go through the park and out to the east to one of the viewpoints, you can find one off the road with no lights and no trees.

One of the points like this one. Off the main road, so you won't be bothered by passing cars on 64 and also good sky access and a decent parking lot.

http://goo.gl/maps/5bZKA

The last time we were there my wife was too tired to drive very far. But it was the star party week and they actually had all the lights off at the visitor center. So we just parked up in the parking lot there with my camper blocking any cars that were entering and leaving and I had great views!


As an alternative you could head west of Sedona out on Boynton Pass Road towards Doe Mountain. The roads there are pretty good and it's more of a desert ecosystem (mostly open land with low growing Juniper and Pinyon Pine) than the area around Stoneman Lake, but you have the Verde Valley and it's light pollution almost directly south of you. It's also not as far from Sedona. But really I think you'll be happy to get out under the stars here wherever you end up as long as it's reasonably dark.

#8 fungus57

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 07:39 PM

Thanks for the tips! I honestly did see way more in the sky from my sister's front porch in "downtown" Sedona than I can see from anywhere within an hour or two drive from home.

I just wish I could bring the 10" dob with me!

#9 dpippel

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 09:15 AM

Nice, but not very portable. ;) Regardless, I hope you have a great trip! If you do get a chance to visit Grand Canyon I highly recommend it, particularly if you can spend the night. The skies there are VERY dark and the views, both astronomical and terrestrial, are phenomenal. It's only a 100 mile drive from Sedona. Well worth the time if you can swing it.

#10 rockethead26

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 10:16 AM

If you want to hang around Flagstaff (my real home) Google Anderson Mesa, Flagstaff. It's where Lowell Observatory located a few of their telescopes. There is an easy gravel road off Lake Mary Road that leads to the observatory area. Before you get to the observatory area, there is a wide patch off the left side of the road where you can park and set up a telescope. It's big enough for 4-5 cars with their scopes.

You will not see any of the traffic on Lake Mary Road, but on some nights, someone may drive up or down to work at one of the Lowell scopes. Other than that, extremely dark skies!!!

Have a good trip.

#11 csrlice12

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 10:26 AM

Watch your step though, it's a long way to the bottom.......

#12 LoveChina61

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 08:33 PM

Please make sure you come back and post some of your trip pictures right here in this thread. I heard he scenery there is stunning!

#13 fungus57

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 09:54 AM

Good stuff, thanks everyone. I am going to try to get to the Grand Canyon for one night, Anderson Mesa another night, and Boynton Pass a third night. I can't wait!

#14 Kevdog

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 10:35 AM

Please make sure you come back and post some of your trip pictures right here in this thread. I heard he scenery there is stunning!


It's not bad :D

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#15 Spaced

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:06 AM

One day trip you might consider is Goblin Valley. If I recall correctly, it's about 45 min. SW of Sedona.

#16 lintonius

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 12:19 AM

One day trip you might consider is Goblin Valley. If I recall correctly, it's about 45 min. SW of Sedona.


Hmm... I've been in the Sedona area numerous times, but don't recall that. We've got Goblin Valley State Park here in southern Utah, though. It's NE of Capitol Reef N.P., off UT-95, in between Canyonlands N.P. and the San Rafael Swell. All of which are highly recommended, though perhaps not as "daytrips" from the Sedona vortex. ;)
Linton

#17 dpippel

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 08:52 AM

One day trip you might consider is Goblin Valley. If I recall correctly, it's about 45 min. SW of Sedona.


Hmmm, never heard of it. Are you sure you're not thinking of Skull Valley?

#18 LoveChina61

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 10:52 AM

Awesome pictures! You could have a second career in photography if you desired to :)

Thanks for sharing!

#19 WesC

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 07:56 PM

Cool thread this... I'm thinking of taking a Christmas trip to Sedona this year if things work out. I have some friends in the area too. I wonder how the Decemeber weather is for observing?

#20 dpippel

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 08:46 PM

There can be some precipitation in December and it's a bit chilly in Sedona, but all-in-all you should see clear skies Wes.

#21 schang

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 09:46 PM

You asked what you can bring with you... I'd say bring me along :grin:

Great photos. Being there once, still can not take its beautiful scenery off my mind years later.

#22 fungus57

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 10:22 PM

Those are some tremendous pictures! Here is a picture from my last trip, this vantage point is about a 5 minute walk and 15 minute hike from my sister's house. Stunning views!

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#23 fungus57

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 10:27 PM

Kind of makes you want to start walking and see where you end up...

We did a night hike while the moon was just setting on my last night there in August. Parked ourselves on top of a rock formation high above Sedona and watched the Perseids. I was amazed at how much fun it was to simply point the Astroscan in any random direction just to see what interesting things were there. Rich field scopes don't work like that at home!

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#24 Skylook123

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 07:24 AM

Every year at the Grand Canyon Star Party, Dennis Young from Sirius Lookers of Sedona gives one of our night talks, showing how he captures the geology and astronomy together with mostly natural night lighting and some other tricks. Here's some of his work, mostly around Sedona:

Sedona By Starlight

#25 Kevdog

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 03:27 PM

Give us a report when you're back!

Skies have been clear EVERY night down here in Phoenix. Hope it's as good up there! And the moon is getting out of the picture too!






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