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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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jgraham
Postmaster
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Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Soci...
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: MawkHawk]
      #5685092 - 02/17/13 12:10 PM

Long ago (30+ years ago) I used to go observing with a few close friends. We've since gone our separate ways and I do pretty much all of my observing alone.

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Feidb
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: jgraham]
      #5685112 - 02/17/13 12:20 PM

Never, for safety reasons. Too many crazies, too many critters, possibility of a breakdown, might throw my back out, no cell coverage at the sites...

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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5685401 - 02/17/13 03:07 PM

My observing site is in my 20 acre yard. Cougars, bear, etc., are around. Rattlers are around, but rarely seen. I observe alone 99% of the time; welcoming it when a fellow CN'r comes to visit, and we can observe together. I love hearing the coyotes, owls, cattle in the far distance. This is music to observe by.

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City Kid
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 05/06/09

Loc: Northern Indiana
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5685445 - 02/17/13 03:57 PM

Quote:

My observing site is in my 20 acre yard. Cougars, bear, etc., are around. Rattlers are around, but rarely seen. I observe alone 99% of the time; welcoming it when a fellow CN'r comes to visit, and we can observe together. I love hearing the coyotes, owls, cattle in the far distance. This is music to observe by.



That would be my dream set up. It probably won't happen but I've learned to never say never.


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Mike B
Starstruck
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Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5685571 - 02/17/13 05:21 PM

Quote:

I love hearing the coyotes, owls, cattle in the far distance. This is music to observe by.




Agreed! On the edge of town where i live, with undeveloped fields all around nearby, i get overflown by barn-owls all the time. My dog loves them, too... in fact, i think *he* thinks THEY are what i'm scopin' for! Generally he'll spot them first, but if i see one i'll call it out to him, and he'll run around the yard like a nut, arfing at it. It's the highlight of *his* evening of stargazing with me.

We hear the coyotes singing in the night from our darksky observing site, and that's also very cool. Still, as was stated above, i feel a li'l more comfortable when partnered up... not sure how being all alone might factor into one's vulnerability with those rascals.

Many years ago i was out & about with my young boys- day trippin' around some local boonies, my eye set to find a secluded observing spot- one sequestered from view, headlights, etc. from which to scope the night skies. We noticed a few aircraft buzzing about... slightly unusual, but not unheard of; it's a gorgeous place to fly, away from crowded airspace. Then, on our drive back to town, we ended up behind a large white sedan- obviously an "unmarked" gubbermint car of some flavor.

Watching the news that nite cleared up the mystery of the aircraft & car... they'd found the body of a missing rape victim, dumped right out near where we'd been poking around, and would be continuing to search for additional victims.

This pretty well scuttled my plans for observing out there. Since then, it's at public sites that are "rangered", or else private land behind gates... *locked* ones. Unfortunately, it's just the way things are these days...


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Dave Lee
sage


Reged: 02/14/13

Loc: Pinehurst, NC USA
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: Mike B]
      #5685713 - 02/17/13 06:36 PM

Part of the appeal of observing (to me) is that you can do it alone. However, where I have observed the risk of dangerous animals is small.

dave


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steveyo
super member


Reged: 03/13/12

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: Dave Lee]
      #5685745 - 02/17/13 06:58 PM

I love observing the moon, planets, and easy DSO from my suburban front yard, where I enthusiastically encourage all passersby to have a look. But when I have a list of dimmer DSO and a planned trip to darker skies, it's almost always alone. I do get a bit freaked by nearby deer-snorts and coyote howls, but I usually just speak loudly to the critters and they go away.

It doesn't help to have a zoologist buddy who studies (and informs me about) the coyote-wolf hybrids now turning up here in NE. But I'm still pretty convinced they're not interested in humans.


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: steveyo]
      #5686463 - 02/18/13 06:17 AM

Quote:

I do get a bit freaked by nearby deer-snorts and coyote howls, but I usually just speak loudly to the critters and they go away.




I am pretty much a lone wolf, observing can be a solitary, meditative experience, I like it that way. I also enjoy observing with a friend or two, it's a different experience. And get togethers are fun but again different.

Being in San Diego, my favorite local dark sky locations are all within a few miles the US-Mexico border in remote regions where all sorts of smuggling goes on. I have never had any sort of an incident, but it is always in back of my mind and a few times an Owl on a post or a falling branch has brought me back from the distance reaches of the universe to the earth, startling me. The adrenalin rush certainly helps keep me awake.

Realistically, it is a region where there is a lot smuggling but it is heavily patrolled, the inner cities should have it so good. The area is flooded with Border Patrol agents, helicopters with infrared detectors, cars and trucks, agents on ATVs looking for tracks on narrow paths.. I feel extra safe...

Jon


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dpwoos
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 10/18/06

Loc: United States
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: Mike B]
      #5686587 - 02/18/13 08:41 AM

Quote:

Unfortunately, it's just the way things are these days...




"These days" the violent crime rate is pretty low - you have to go back more than 40 years or so to find it significantly lower. I think folks watch/listen to too much "news", which is actually "bad news".

For instance, look at the FBI violent crime rate data:

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-...

Edited by dpwoos (02/18/13 08:48 AM)


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Mike B
Starstruck
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Reged: 04/06/05

Loc: shake, rattle, & roll, CA
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5686905 - 02/18/13 12:25 PM

Well, lets just say it varies by region... and i never have been one to watch much "news". The incident i referred to happened a long while back, and we local residents didn't need news coverage... we lived it.

In fact, the young man was finally captured, sentenced, & imprisoned a couple of hundred miles away. A few years later he escaped, and info led authorities back to his family's home here in town. Our skies were then suddenly filled with helicopters, and streets with "gubbermint" cars.

That'll possibly make an impression on a person.

Folks who have not experienced such too-close ugliness might have a different take on matters... bless them! No one should have to see that. News, or otherwise. So i'm careful when i'm out & vulnerable, and try not to assume anything in regards to safety. Not only do i have no great love for "news", i do not wish to MAKE any.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: MawkHawk]
      #5686968 - 02/18/13 12:53 PM

Mostly do it myself, go out into the middle of nowhere and set up. There's some spots not too far from our dark sight. Maybe one car a night down that road not related to the dark site. Except now, they've opened back up that gas well they drilled last year. Hopefully the lights will go out again soon, it's lit up like daylight out there right now. But, I do ocassionally attend a dark sky weekend, or if I go to the dark site and someone else is out there, then I don't mind the company.

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dpwoos
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 10/18/06

Loc: United States
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: Mike B]
      #5686991 - 02/18/13 02:04 PM

Bad stuff happens, and that is really awful. However, it happend in "those days" as well as "these days". I hear the "these days" stuff a lot, so I guess I am somewhat sensitive to it, especially as I think "these days" are, by and large, the "best days"!

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kansas skies
sage


Reged: 12/02/12

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: dpwoos]
      #5687301 - 02/18/13 04:52 PM

I used to live on a farm (so to speak), and did most of my observing alone out in the middle of a wheat field. On one occasion, just after harvest, I found out how slowly and steathily the bovine crowd could move. I remember the feeling of something breathing down my neck that wasn't there a few minutes earlier. I raised my head from the eyepiece and ran smack-dab into the lips of a huge Jersey cow. She jumped back (it's amazing how fast they can move), and let out a huge, "Mooooooooooo". Needless to say, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I probably lost a couple of years off the end of my life, but gained a memory that I will carry to my grave.

As for now, I'm fortunate enough to have decent skies just off of my back porch in a small suburban neighborhood. Most of my neighbors seem to be concerned with the high cost of electricity, so they pretty much leave the outdoor lights off and rely on illumination from nearby street lights (from which I am shielded). There are quite a few dogs in the neighborhood, so it would be almost impossible for someone or something that doesn't belong to sneak in here.

So, to answer your question, I almost always observe alone.


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dpwoos
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 10/18/06

Loc: United States
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: kansas skies]
      #5687309 - 02/18/13 04:55 PM

Great story! I observe with cows, but they are (usually) on the other side of an electric fence. They seem to be very curious creatures, and seem to enjoy standing there and watching me observe. I have never seen them look up.

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Curt James
newbie


Reged: 01/26/13

Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: MawkHawk]
      #5687523 - 02/18/13 06:41 PM

I prefer to either have my son with me, as he is interested, or all by myself if he is busy. I love the outdoors. I lived in the mountains for 10 years, so it doesn't scare me. I have a couple nice dark spots. Pitch my tent, set up my stuff and observe 'til I can't stay awake. Then get up early to see the pre-dawn show too. I'm loving this!! I purchased a 10" Orion SkyQuest last night. Can't wait for it to show up.

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faackanders2
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 03/28/11

Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: Curt James]
      #5687539 - 02/18/13 06:51 PM

Most the time I observe by myself, but I prefer observing with others.

The only time I got scared was in yellostone knowing bears were nearby, and at my favorite site when cyotes apparently attacked something and the shreaks, growling, attacking noises was really scary since I was lying down with my binoculars looking up - well I did jump up and ran to my car. After 15min got out, but observed standing up.


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torsinadoc
sage


Reged: 02/04/13

Loc: Fayetteville AR
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: faackanders2]
      #5687562 - 02/18/13 07:00 PM

Great thread.

I always go by myself. When it is warmer, i may take my maltese. She isnt much of a threat and may be more bait for all the owls flying over head. I go to a state park/civil war battlefield. Some traffic but not bad. I only have to drive 40 miles to hit dark areas. If all the stars align (pun intended) and the moon is new, I am not on call, no clouds then I may head down to darker areas.

I biggest concern is setting up near a meth lab and drawing attention from them.


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SeptemberEquinox
sage
*****

Reged: 01/29/12

Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: kansas skies]
      #5687715 - 02/18/13 08:19 PM

Quote:

She jumped back (it's amazing how fast they can move), and let out a huge, "Mooooooooooo". Needless to say, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I probably lost a couple of years off the end of my life




lol I think I lost couple of years off the end of my life laughing so hard. Great story!!


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Carol L

*****

Reged: 07/05/04

Loc: Tomahawk, WI 45N//89W
Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: SeptemberEquinox]
      #5688118 - 02/19/13 12:23 AM

I always observe alone on my rural 40 acres, and i'm not protected by an observatory - i'm right out in the open with everything. Still in all, i feel quite safe despite the Cougar, Black Bears, Wolves etc that are in the area. Only 2 animals have ever 'intentionally' approached me in over a decade of observing: a feral cat, and the neighbor's dog. A Porcupine ambled about 10' away from me one night, and then a Skunk did the same thing a few weeks later - that's when i decided it was time to put up a few rolls of 3' high wire garden fencing around me. It definitely won't stop a predator, but it does a good job of keeping the little creatures from getting underfoot.

The nightsounds are phenomenal out in the country. There are Fox barks, Wolf howls and Owl hoots as well as the seasonal sounds of Whip-Poor-Wills, Woodcock, Spring Peepers and Crickets. There's a herd of Horses in the field across the road, and they whinny and snicker to one another - sometimes the whole herd decides to have a run, and it sounds like thunder. A low-flying Loon cruised about 15' directly over me at 1:00AM a number of years ago, and its vocalizations were picked up by the voice-activated recorder i use for field notes - cool. Last Autumn, a pack of Coyotes (about 50' away) started to yip-yip-yip SO loudly that they couldn't hear my ear-shattering whistle - i had to blast the horn on the truck to get their attention.

The only time animal activity ever made me pack up and go home was many years ago when the sound of a Bear's 'huffing' (very different from a Deer snort) kept getting closer and closer. The next morning i found out that someone accidentally hit a Bear less than a mile away. Good thing i decided to leave - there's no telling what an injured animal might do.

I've only had one experience that could be considered a 'close encounter'. About 7 years ago, i was sitting quietly (too quietly) for about 15 minutes, trying to split a close double star. Usually there's a few moments of better seeing now and again, but apparently it wasn't going to happen that night. So i removed the small 5mm ep and plopped the large 32mm ep into the diagonal.
A quick snarlygrowl exploded about 30' to the west, and i thought it was the Badger i'd seen earlier that day. I clapped my hands and yelled for about 10 seconds to scare it away, and then continued the session. The next day my friend (local PD dispatcher) called to tell me that about 3 hours before i heard the snarlygrowl, a Cougar was sighted less than 500' from my observing site. Neighbors who were born and raised here (i'm from Chicago) told me not to worry about it - Cougar sightings always increase during that time of year because the mamas have hungry kits to feed. My forest has plenty of Rabbits, and the predators are welcome to all they can eat. I just have to be intentionally noisy so they're aware of my presence.


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SeptemberEquinox
sage
*****

Reged: 01/29/12

Re: Do you go observing by yourself to ur fav place? new [Re: Carol L]
      #5688148 - 02/19/13 12:45 AM

Carol!! I love your articles, I just wish we can receive the magazine earlier :\. Loved your Jupiter sketch!!

So many great stories, thank you for sharing.

Edited by SeptemberEquinox (02/19/13 01:30 AM)


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