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Any obs. in Fountain Hills, AZ (or Phoenix area)?

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#1 tedbnh


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Posted 29 July 2014 - 12:17 PM

We currently live in the Northeast but are looking to move to Fountain Hills, AZ, which is just east of Phoenix and Scottsdale. We've found a property with space in the back corner of the yard for a 10x12 observatory, maybe a bit larger. No HOA restrictions, only county permit required if over 10x12.

Fountain Hills has no streetlights and a well-enforced dark-sky lighting ordinance. Skies are pretty good - when I was out there last month I went back to the property at night and could see the mag 5 star in the Little Dipper. For being so close to Phoenix, that seems pretty darn good. There are good size hills to the west blocking the lights of Scottsdale and Phoenix, and Indian Reservation land to the east, and county parkland to the north. I think we were lucky to find this combination within 30 minutes of an airport served by Southwest (a requirement for my wife who travels a lot). Of course, darker skies are just an hour or so away but I have never had the convenience of a home observatory before. Wife is being very supportive! :-)

So I was wondering if anyone here has an observatory in this general area and could offer advice? (Actual construction is probably a year away). I'm mostly a visual observer, I have an 18" Starmaster Dob and a 5" refractor with a CGEM which will go on a pier so I can play with AP, then go look through the Dob while the computers are taking the pictures.

I know it's hot in the Phoenix area but I think we've had enough of snow for a while. And the house has a small pool.


#2 nytecam


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Posted 29 July 2014 - 01:22 PM

Good luck with your properly -hope it goes well and you'll soon enjoy those new skies :-)

#3 Calypte



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Posted 29 July 2014 - 03:05 PM

Keep in mind that, however dark the property is right now, that is the best it will ever be for you. There will always be more light pollution tomorrow, next year, a decade from now.

#4 tedbnh


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Posted 29 July 2014 - 03:46 PM


That is true...same here in the east. However, going from 60 clear days and 300 cloudy days to the other way around will be a welcome change, and one that is less likely to be ruined by mankind's construction projects.

#5 rimcrazy


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Posted 30 July 2014 - 07:46 AM

I live in Phoenix up by Cave Creek and Deer Valley road. The seeing in Phoenix is kinda what you would expect for a city. Fountain Hills is a wonderful place and your seeing there should be much better. I also have a place up in Overgaard. My observatory is located there. (The seeing there is over the top....).

You should do well out in Fountain Hills. It will grow but not exponentially and you should have many fine nights of seeing. As far as heat goes, yea... summers are hot no two ways about it but you will have 9-10 months out of every year where the evenings are very comfortable.

I grew up back east in a suburb of Cleveland (Parma) Ohio. When I first moved to Phoenix my folks figured I would be fleeing back to Ohio because the summers here are so hot. After being out here about 2 years my dad was still making his cajoling about how terrible Phoenix is and I calmly said to him "Dad, I've been here 2 years now and I've yet to have to shovel any heat out of my driveway!". I never heard another comment. ;-)

#6 frolinmod



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Posted 30 July 2014 - 09:13 AM

I was born there (a very long time ago). The only bad month is August and it's only bad if you're relying on a swamp cooler.

#7 hm insulators

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 02:18 PM

Sounds like Fountain Hills might be darker than Sun City West, where my mother lives. She has darker skies than I do from my central Phoenix location, but her neighborhood does have street lights.

#8 LoveChina61



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Posted 26 August 2014 - 01:43 AM

Ted,  good luck in your observatory build there. It sounds like you have an ideal location. The only downside whatsoever that I can think of is that you are a bit far from where local astronomy clubs meet.  :)


Otherwise, I think it would be hard to find a significantly better location anywhere in the Valley that offers such good skies while maintaining proximity to the life of the city.


When do you and your family plan to move there?



Edited by LoveChina61, 26 August 2014 - 11:25 AM.

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