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General Astronomy >> Light Pollution

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mantrain
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/22/11

Loc: San Diego
Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark
      #5325405 - 07/19/12 04:44 PM

That is, if a green zone is within an hour (which I think it is for 90% of Americans) how much further would you be willing to drive to get to a grey/black zone?

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Scott in NC
Mad Hatter
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Reged: 03/05/05

Loc: NC
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5325431 - 07/19/12 05:01 PM

Hard to answer, without some additional clarification: do you mean drive that far to observe on a weekly basis, once a month, or maybe just for that special once-a-year really dark sky treat?

Once weekly: I wouldn't be willing to drive more than an hour, and am quite content to observe from my home (which is in a yellow zone).

Once monthly: maybe an hour, but definitely no more than 2

Once a year: probably 5-6 hours at most


Edited by ssatko (07/19/12 06:37 PM)


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mantrain
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/22/11

Loc: San Diego
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Scott in NC]
      #5325439 - 07/19/12 05:06 PM

well, I guess on an average basis, ie, no work the next day, but not some long planned trip.

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Dave97402
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Reged: 12/16/11

Loc: Eugene, Or
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5325473 - 07/19/12 05:24 PM

about 20 miles to a pretty dark spot. Pretty close to grey

I should go there more, but I get a lot done from my backyard that is green/yellow ish


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Achernar
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Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5325492 - 07/19/12 05:37 PM

I would be willing to drive 100 miles for skies that dark, IF the weather makes such a long trip worthwhile. But generally I would much rather drive no farther than 40 or 50 miles to get to an observing site.

Taras


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mantrain
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/22/11

Loc: San Diego
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Achernar]
      #5325517 - 07/19/12 05:56 PM

Quote:

I would be willing to drive 100 miles for skies that dark, IF the weather makes such a long trip worthwhile. But generally I would much rather drive no farther than 40 or 50 miles to get to an observing site.

Taras




how often?


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Americal
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Reged: 09/14/07

Loc: Under the L. A. lightdome
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5325746 - 07/19/12 08:23 PM

I just got back from a 5 hour trip to black( 7.5 NELM) skies in the White Mts. Worth every minute of the road time. The transparency and seeing were so fine the last night it really recharged my batteries. I camp so I like to spend more than one night when I make a long trip like that but I think those of us in the west are more conditioned to the greater distances. I try to stack other daytime activities to "punch a couple other tickets," too.
To give you a direct answer I'd make that 5 hour trip 3 times a year but I pick the times carefully.


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Joe F Gafford
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/15/06

Loc: Denver, Colorado, US
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Americal]
      #5325769 - 07/19/12 08:41 PM

My club's DSS is 54 road miles from my house. I usually go there in the fall to spring months. There is a exploratory well near it with the lights now and next month's starparty in WY where a lot of my club members go to was cancelled. We're all chomping at the bit here this summer.
Joe.


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Achernar
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Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5325898 - 07/19/12 10:03 PM

Once or twice a month, weather and work permitting.

Taras


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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5326357 - 07/20/12 05:39 AM

Quote:

That is, if a green zone is within an hour (which I think it is for 90% of Americans) how much further would you be willing to drive to get to a grey/black zone?




Boy, I sure doubt that a green zone is within an hour drive for 90% of Americans. Less than 50% would be my bet. I have to drive almost an hour to get to the orange zone.

People in the West have it better than people in the East, due to the proximity of vast quantities of government-owned land. But even there -- it takes more than an hour just to drive across L.A., let alone get far enough away from it to be in a green zone.

No doubt if it were an hour drive to green and a 2-hour drive to gray, I would go to green on weeknights and gray on weekends.


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5326376 - 07/20/12 06:18 AM

I drive about 70 miles to our Blue Zone spot and do it every clear weekend and some that are not.

The dark skies of the Navajo reservation are about 700 miles, we do that at least once a year.

Jon


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Illinois
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Reged: 12/18/06

Loc: near Dixon, Illinois USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5326502 - 07/20/12 08:51 AM

You live in san Diego then drive to gray/black zone....you are lucky! In Illinois at least 7 hours drive to up north or drive south to pass St. Louis! Someday there might have no gray/ black zone left but I hope that I am wrong!

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bunyon
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Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Illinois]
      #5326522 - 07/20/12 09:09 AM

What Tony said - with the addition that I'd drive a little farther if the opportunity to camp/spend night were available.

Also, I drive to the west every 3 or 4 years for combined observing/hiking/camping. My last trip logged 6000 miles total.

I wouldn't do that more than every other weekend, of course.


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A. Viegas
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 03/05/12

Loc: New York City/ CT
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: bunyon]
      #5327026 - 07/20/12 02:47 PM

As a relative newbie who just came back into this hobby this winter I have not yet made any long trips, mostly just observed from my Orange zone (mag 3-4 skies) in suburban CT or even a few times from white zone (mag 1 maybe...) in downtown new york city. I have not even considered trying a dark site. Maybe that is an idea for next year, but it would be difficult to condition the spouse of my requirement to stay out all night at some remote site, when I can do it from my backyard in CT... hence that is a bridge to cross at some point...

So for your survey my data point is going to be woefully unrepresentative as I would say maybe 1x per year I may have an opportunity to experience dark skies... and that would probably have to be an 'event' like Stellaphane up in VT for instance...

my 2c
Al


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audioaficionado
professor emeritus


Reged: 05/24/12

Loc: Medford, Orygun, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5327724 - 07/21/12 12:54 AM

I live in a red-orange zone, but I'm 40 miles/1 hour from dark gray and 160 miles/3.5 hours from a South central Oregon black zone. I'll most likely not drive up to the former more than a few times per year and maybe the latter once a year tops. It's more of a money issue than a time issue.

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Tony Flanders
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Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: A. Viegas]
      #5330207 - 07/22/12 06:37 PM

Quote:

So for your survey my data point is going to be woefully unrepresentative as I would say maybe 1x per year I may have an opportunity to experience dark skies... and that would probably have to be an 'event' like Stellaphane up in VT for instance...




Stellafane is surely darker than anywhere in Connecticut, but it has lots of light pollution. The normal light-pollution atlas shows it in the yellow zone, but I think it's actually more like green.

That's the same as the "bad" sky in the original question -- the one that's just 1 hour from San Diego.

Even so, a visit to Stellafane will blow your mind wide open -- you will understand exactly why people are willing to drive long distances to find dark skies. Stellafane is still dark enough to see many, many dark lanes in the Milky Way -- though just a pale image of a true dark site.


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bunyon
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Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5330391 - 07/22/12 08:42 PM

I noted my trip to Natural Bridges above. I haven't been out since due to weather and travel. I think this a good thing as I might not be able to face the sky I normally have here too close on the heels of Bridges.

Even if you can't take a scope, you need to see the Milky Way from a black zone on a good night at some point. It's unbelievable and, literally, awesome.


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amicus sidera
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Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: bunyon]
      #5331830 - 07/23/12 06:03 PM

I won't usually travel to a dark site. I did all that type of travelling when I was younger, and although I enjoyed it immensely at the time, now that I'm older I don't enjoy the packing, driving, unpacking, observing for all too short of a time, packing and driving home again in the wee hours. I still go occasionally, but once or twice a year at best - and this is to a green-blue zone... there are no really dark skies within reasonable distance.

I do, however, plan on traveling a good distance to a new home with dark skies when I'm fully retired in a few short years, God willing, and then I will travel no more.

Btw, just about anywhere that doesn't have "NJ" as it's state designation has darker skies than here, so I can only trade up!


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audioaficionado
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Reged: 05/24/12

Loc: Medford, Orygun, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5332217 - 07/23/12 10:14 PM

Tonight the wife and I are going up to the dark skies to see some stars. We only have my binoculars to view with, but it'll be nice to see a full complement of stars for a change.

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City Kid
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 05/06/09

Loc: Northern Indiana
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5332958 - 07/24/12 11:37 AM

I have to drive for an hour to get to a yellow zone. I'm willing to do that any clear, moonless weekend. To get to a green zone I would need to drive 3 hours and I don't ever bother. If I could get to a black or grey zone in less than 4 or 5 hours I would do that every chance I had but I have no black or grey zones that close. As it is I drive 18 hours to the Nebraska Star Party once a year so I can have at least one week a year in a black zone.

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George N
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Reged: 05/19/06

Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: City Kid]
      #5333140 - 07/24/12 01:44 PM

To get to a yellow/green border area I need to walk outside my house. To get to a blue area (a state park in PA) I need to drive about an hour, and to get to a gray area (Cherry Springs) I need to drive a little over 3 hours (depending on fracting truck traffic) – or 5.5 hours to my Adirondack camp.

Bottom line: I only drive to observe if going to a star party or if I’m pretty sure of at least two clear nights, with no more than 2 or 3 hours of moonlight to contend with. I very much prefer to camp and take the scopes down the morning I'm heading home.


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ih8usrnames
super member


Reged: 08/08/11

Loc: Wheaton Illinois
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: City Kid]
      #5333162 - 07/24/12 01:57 PM

I am partially colorblind so I do not know what color I am driving to but I do know it is a Bortles 4.5 by lingering over it on Cleardarksky

Does the scale go Yellow, Green, Blue, Grey, Black?

I already drive 70 miles 1-2 times a month just to get to a 4.5. If there were cheap camping nearby (Summer) I would drive twice the distance at least once a month to get to Blue or Grey. I would consider it in the winter too if cheap hotel were nearby.

Thee closest Blue spots to me are:
near Silver Lake State Park, Mi - 232 miles
Mount Sterling, Wi - 244 miles
Dagget, Mi (UP) - 292 miles


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rainycityastro
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Reged: 03/29/10

Loc: Seattle, WA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: ih8usrnames]
      #5333814 - 07/24/12 09:07 PM

I have to drive about 3.5 hours to get to a grey area. I can get to a blue area within about 2 hours.

Living in possibly the cloudiest city of USA, the big problem is clear skies and not dark skies for me personally. But I'd be willing to drive 3.5 hours each way once a month.


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City Kid
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Reged: 05/06/09

Loc: Northern Indiana
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: rainycityastro]
      #5333845 - 07/24/12 09:32 PM

Quote:

I have to drive about 3.5 hours to get to a grey area. I can get to a blue area within about 2 hours.



So is it worth the extra 1.5 hours to get to the grey zone rather than observe from the blue zone?


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oldtimer
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Reged: 11/13/08

Loc: Lake County Illinois
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Illinois]
      #5335389 - 07/25/12 07:11 PM

The Chicago sky glow is tough to escape. A green zone is about 90 miles and thats an overnighter for me. The closest blue zone is about 149 miles and thats got to be a weekend. Most of my club's observing sites for one nighters are in orange and yellow zones from 40 to 70 miles.

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bunyon
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Reged: 10/23/10

Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: oldtimer]
      #5335613 - 07/25/12 09:39 PM

For me, no, 1.5 hours isn't worth it, on a routine basis, to get to a gray zone out of a blue. Unless I'm staying awhile.

Also, local conditions are important. My usual spot for a one-nighter is a green, while a blue is only 10 minutes further away. But I haven't found a decent spot in the small blue area. There is either no horizon or lots of local light or it's on private property, etc.


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mak17
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 02/08/11

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: bunyon]
      #5335717 - 07/25/12 10:44 PM

115-135 miles to get to the closest blue zones which are much better then yellow zone 20 miles from home - totally worth it. I go to the blue zone sites every other or every third month. Closest "grey" zone would be about 160 miles. I'm yet to check out the "grey" so cant say if its worth the extra 25 miles or not. 500 miles to the closest black zone (dry tortugas national park) which will require both driving and taking a ferry as well as a new travel scope. If the difference between a blue zone and a black zone is the same as the difference between a yellow and a blue I cant wait to get there.

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JayinUT
I'm not Sleepy
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Reged: 09/19/08

Loc: Utah
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mak17]
      #5335819 - 07/25/12 11:51 PM

61 miles or 1 hour and ten minutes to a wonderful gray, bordering on black. 42 miles to a decent blue zone site or a 45 minute drive. Yes, the extra 20 to 30 minute drive is worth it.

Then there is 3 to 4 hours to some of the darkest sites in the lower 48 on Federal land. I get to these in the summer once or twice. Notch Peak one of the darkest sites in Utah is 3.5 hours away. I try to go there at least twice a year in the fall and early spring/late winter.

I'll offer a XT10 if anyone is out here in SLC for a weekend and want to observe. You can ask Chris from NC or FirstSight on the quality of the observing sites. Just a friendly offer (of course I'll bring the XT10 with my 14 inch to the observing location). Yes, I observe year round and am equipped for low temps and if your dressed, I have an outdoor heater I can setup to keep you warm, or at least thawed if your here in the winter.


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: JayinUT]
      #5336177 - 07/26/12 08:40 AM

Quote:

61 miles or 1 hour and ten minutes to a wonderful gray, bordering on black. 42 miles to a decent blue zone site or a 45 minute drive. Yes, the extra 20 to 30 minute drive is worth it.

Then there is 3 to 4 hours to some of the darkest sites in the lower 48 on Federal land. I get to these in the summer once or twice. Notch Peak one of the darkest sites in Utah is 3.5 hours away. I try to go there at least twice a year in the fall and early spring/late winter.

I'll offer a XT10 if anyone is out here in SLC for a weekend and want to observe. You can ask Chris from NC or FirstSight on the quality of the observing sites. Just a friendly offer (of course I'll bring the XT10 with my 14 inch to the observing location). Yes, I observe year round and am equipped for low temps and if your dressed, I have an outdoor heater I can setup to keep you warm, or at least thawed if your here in the winter.




This is one thing I like about this hobby. I haven't been in it long, but most are more than willing to share their equipment with a fellow skywatcher. I do travel for work, and can't take a scope with me, but do plan that next time I go, I'm going to do some research and find a local astronomy club and contact them when I get there as many clubs do either loaners or public viewings. I would think if you are a member of an astronomy club, it's kind of an unspoken collateral agreement. Of course, I would be willing to accept responsibility for the scope and pay for it should I break it (very unlikely). One thing I could bring (carryon), would be some eyepieces.


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Americal]
      #5336182 - 07/26/12 08:46 AM

Quote:

I just got back from a 5 hour trip to black( 7.5 NELM) skies in the White Mts. Worth every minute of the road time. The transparency and seeing were so fine the last night it really recharged my batteries. I camp so I like to spend more than one night when I make a long trip like that but I think those of us in the west are more conditioned to the greater distances. I try to stack other daytime activities to "punch a couple other tickets," too.
To give you a direct answer I'd make that 5 hour trip 3 times a year but I pick the times carefully.




"I think those of us in the west are more conditioned to the greater distances." So, how many of us drive as much as an hour to/from work every day? Would you be willing to drive at least as far as you do to work?


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JoeR
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Reged: 03/07/10

Loc: Columbus, OH
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5337014 - 07/26/12 05:03 PM

Our green zone is 1 hr 45 min away. Our black zone is 3 hours across state lines. I've never seen it and probably never will. I spend 90% of my time in an orange/red zone a 15 minute drive from home. We only have clear skies maybe 30 days out of 365 and those usually don't coincide on weekend moonless nights.

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gmartin02
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Reged: 04/11/05

Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: JoeR]
      #5338637 - 07/27/12 03:37 PM Attachment (37 downloads)

I live in the Orange zone in the north part of Los Angeles County. It takes me 1 hour to drive to a Green zone (up I-5), 2 hours to drive to a Gray zone (14-> US 395), and 5 hours to drive to a Black zone (north part of Death Valley NP).

I used to do the Green zone 1 hour drive about once per month, but I figured that if I have to take the time to pack the car and drive at least one hour, adding an extra hour of generally little or no traffic road time isn't that much different, so I now do the 2 hour Gray zone trip about once per month. I make the 5 hour Black zone drive about 2 to 3 times per year.

Now that I have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, I have access to more places that were "challenging" for my little Hyundai Elantra.

Last weekend I made a trip to a site named "Papoose Flat" in the Inyo Mountains (up the graded but in some places steep Mazourka Canyon road that starts in Independence, CA) - about a 3 1/2 hour drive. This is a Gray zone site, is at about 8600 ft. elevation, and usually has not much water vapor in the air above - very comparable to Grandview Campground in the White Mountains where many people go, but about 45 minutes shorter drive.

In addition to being away from light domes, some Gray zone sites are definitely darker than others. Here in California, sites like Papoose Flat & Grandview Camprgound, and others can be accessed that are high elevation sites (above 5000 ft.). High elevation has the advantage of getting above much of the particulate matter and water vapor in the sky, making for much better observation of "faint fuzzies". It is amazing how all aperture sizes of scopes perform better with super dark skies. I think smaller scopes show even more of a difference between super dark sites and brighter sites that big scopes (but I usually only take the 12.5" Dob when I go super dark).

The attached picture is from the scoping spot I used near Papoose Flat last weekend. That's Mount Whitney in the background across Owens Valley. What an awesome place!

Greg


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DarkSkys
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Reged: 10/11/10

Loc: In the dark desert of Eastern ...
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5338826 - 07/27/12 05:54 PM

I can drive an hour and a half and be at a low altitude gray zone, or and hour and a half and be at a high altitude Blue/Green zone. Also i could drive 30 min and be at a blue zone.

I'd drive a few hours each way once a month if that what it took.

Edited by DarkSkys (07/27/12 05:56 PM)


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Lou3
super member


Reged: 07/19/12

Loc: PA, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: City Kid]
      #5339197 - 07/27/12 10:25 PM

I live in a red zone that's packed with tall trees. I'm willing to drive 20 minutes one a week, an hour once a month, and maybe two hours once every 4-6 months. For the two-hour trip, it would depend on the ease of the drive, the safety of the area, and lodging.

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killdabuddha
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/26/11

Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Lou3]
      #5352314 - 08/04/12 09:27 PM


1.5 hours to mag 6.5 skies every weekend. Dunno what this translates as according to blue/gray/black or according to the Bortle scale, etc. We still have to learn these. To enjoy mag 7 skies we'd have to go 4.5 hours, which we haven't yet.


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gmartin02
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Reged: 04/11/05

Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5352395 - 08/04/12 10:40 PM

Quote:


1.5 hours to mag 6.5 skies every weekend. Dunno what this translates as according to blue/gray/black or according to the Bortle scale, etc. We still have to learn these. To enjoy mag 7 skies we'd have to go 4.5 hours, which we haven't yet.



I bet you aren't going to get mag 6.5 skies this weekend

Just kidding - I knew you meant every moonless weekend.

G


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Starboat
member


Reged: 03/14/12

Loc: Texas
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5352512 - 08/05/12 12:34 AM

I live in a yellow zone; 40 miles to blue zone; 100 to black site. Another great black site 175 miles away we do for multiple nights only. Usually 2 of these trips per month.

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planet earth
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 09/07/10

Loc: Ontario Canada
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5352647 - 08/05/12 05:13 AM

I've been driving 1.5 hours about 90 miles North to my brothers place in the country since the mid 70's which has 6 to 6.5 mag skies and no neighbours really close by.
I'll stay for 2-3 days usually and go about 1-2 times a month.Even if weather is not great, I find it's good to get out of the city.
I leave my 12" scope there most of the year.
Clear Skies
Sam


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killdabuddha
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 08/26/11

Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5352867 - 08/05/12 10:38 AM

Quote:

Quote:


1.5 hours to mag 6.5 skies every weekend. Dunno what this translates as according to blue/gray/black or according to the Bortle scale, etc. We still have to learn these. To enjoy mag 7 skies we'd have to go 4.5 hours, which we haven't yet.



I bet you aren't going to get mag 6.5 skies this weekend

Just kidding - I knew you meant every moonless weekend.

G




LOL. I moved from Chicago to NJ and have been pleasantly surprised. BUT...the first thing that I wowed my wife with was the moon, with the 20x60 binocs that I brought with every visit while we were dating. (Ok...chuckle) The irony is that we have to travel TO SEE THE MOON for her because of our tree line. OTH, I get to combine beach time (surfin and metal detectin) with the Belleplain visits so I'm not complainin. Think we're gonna have to get filters tho. Also lookin forward to comparin this with Cherry Springs.


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Starman81
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 03/06/08

Loc: Metro Detroit, MI, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: killdabuddha]
      #5355230 - 08/06/12 06:04 PM

15 minutes to a red zone, 45 minutes to an orange zone and 1 hour to a yellow zone... A blue zone is 3 hours away for me (Port Crescent State Park), but I have not made the trek yet. The yellow zone site is the favorite for clear, moonless nights.

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Seldom
professor emeritus


Reged: 08/05/12

Loc: N of Cedar City Light Dome
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Starman81]
      #5355812 - 08/07/12 12:43 AM

My back yard's blue; that's why I dusted off my 6" f8 25 year old homemade Newt, and why I'm trying not to get Obsessed. Light gray's a 15 minute bike ride. Dark gray's an hour.

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Starman81
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 03/06/08

Loc: Metro Detroit, MI, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Seldom]
      #5355834 - 08/07/12 01:10 AM

Quote:

My back yard's blue; that's why I dusted off my 6" f8 25 year old homemade Newt, and why I'm trying not to get Obsessed. Light gray's a 15 minute bike ride. Dark gray's an hour.




Congrats on your first post. Reading this thread, I hope you know how lucky you are! But then again, there are always trade-offs living in less densely populated areas.


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TechPan6415
sage
*****

Reged: 07/29/12

Loc: Aspen, Co
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Seldom]
      #5355841 - 08/07/12 01:20 AM

The short answer? Zero, I can't live like that, polluting the air I am trying to look through with yet another automobile....?

I need to see the milky way across the entire sky far more than I need to see it in a telescope. For me, there is certain nourishment I get in being able to see the ground with dark adapted eyes with only star light.

I spent 19 years in the L.A. area growing up…and eventually figured out I was going to die pretty early on in life if I did not leave. So in 1994, I left and never looked back. The main reasons? Air pollution, life pollution and light pollution, that place would have killed me years ago….

So I have lived in some of the darkest skies I have ever seen for over 15 years, Aspen has a great light pollution ordinance. If I step out the front door of my apartment, hang a left and walk for about 400 feet, I hit a trail that leads to thousands of square miles of pure wilderness…and it gets even darker. A five minute drive up one of the windy roads gets rid of all of the tiny light pollution we might even have, it's as dark as it gets, especially in the dry air at 12,000 feet up.

If I had to live in a city, I would not be able to own a telescope, I would not see the point. But I have not owned one out here because to be perfectly honest, I felt like I never needed it. A pair of decent 10x25 binoculars pretty much did the trick.

This astronomy thing, It's not about telescopes, gear, deep sky objects, etc. It's about seeing one of the many truths that mankind's fear based ignorance has obscured from his very eyes as history as worn on. I gave up a lot for years, broke, expensive rents, you name it…but I had my nourishment, my truth.

So now I have a big ol' scope coming…should loads of fun getting reacquainted with it all.

But drive to see dark skies….?….to me that is like driving across state to get a glass of water…insane. Mankind lies, but the deep sky, the mountains, the streams and the animals, they do not…I can't live with liars, so I don't.

Yeah, I consider my self lucky, but not for the reasons you might think...
I am lucky because I engaged in ecological common sense at an early age, refused to live any other way, and that saved my life.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: TechPan6415]
      #5356107 - 08/07/12 09:05 AM

Congratulations on living your dream under dark skies, away from the maddening crowds. However, many are not so fortunate to leave behind necessary jobs, etc. to move out of the cities. So driving many miles to observe dark skies is the best way many can enjoy these skies, & the trips are very well worth it to them.

You say the astronomy thing is not about telescopes, gear, deep sky objects, etc.; yet this is the very definition of astronomy. This is what gives joy to so many people, no matter how little or how great their equipment is, to see the wonders of the night skies.

BTW, I'm also very fortunate to live away from population and enjoy dark night skies; but I also greatly admire those that are willing to drive considerable distances to enjoy the skies; that's dedication to a hobby they love! It's easy for those of us to simply step out our doors, but those that won't let LP stop them from the hobby they so enjoy, my hats off to all of them!


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TechPan6415
sage
*****

Reged: 07/29/12

Loc: Aspen, Co
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5356157 - 08/07/12 09:34 AM

Quote:

Congratulations on living your dream under dark skies, away from the maddening crowds. However, many are not so fortunate to leave behind necessary jobs, etc. to move out of the cities. So driving many miles to observe dark skies is the best way many can enjoy these skies, & the trips are very well worth it to them.




Thanks, but with all due respect I think you have missed the point...even though the use of a telescope is, astronomy itself is not a dream or hobby to me. The need to have the proper bearing of the night sky unpolluted was and is a vital part of my diet as a human animal, just like any other species who knows it's habitat, this was not a choice, but a life or death situation for me.

It was not so much the aim of my post to say people are wrong in traveling to be able to see a proper night sky...you don't know what you are missing if you never smell, hear, taste or see it...

It was more to perhaps reach out to that troubled soul who is more like I was, who's very life may depend on it...to inspire them to realize that no matter what anyone says or no matter what technology brings, we still only have 24 hours in one day. So just rid your self of the doubt and DO it, get the heck out of there and start living the life that you were always meant to. Otherwise you are living a lie.....and light pollution is a symptom of that, being one of many ways mankind obscures the vital truths from him self and everyone else.

I have over a month until I get my scope...I'll check back in once I get it and have used it....you know...get busy living, or get busy dying.

Peace...


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: TechPan6415]
      #5356172 - 08/07/12 09:44 AM

We can't speak for others; perhaps they enjoy where they are, and what they are doing, rather than assume they are "troubled souls". What works for one, does not work for everyone. Many love the hustle-bustle of cities, where there's much to be offered, yet they can still drive & enjoy the night skies.

Quote:

Otherwise you are living a lie.....and light pollution is a symptom of that.





It's good that we all have choices & most of us are happy with the choices we make in our lives. This forum shows that people are concerned and are trying to curb LP to make a better place for everyone; this is an incentive for all of us to do what we can to help in the LP fight.


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audioaficionado
professor emeritus


Reged: 05/24/12

Loc: Medford, Orygun, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5357225 - 08/07/12 09:55 PM

It must be nice to have almost unlimited funds and live anywhere you want. I'm doing the best I can under the circumstances. My back yard nor my neighborhood aren't that great, but I'm still only an hour away from dark skies and the mountains. If I had a million bux, I'd be living up in those mountains and spending my full time devoted to my favorite hobbies. I'm living in a region where lots of people pay gobs of money to have vacations.

I've seen Saturn a thousand times with my naked eyes, but I couldn't see the rings or Titan until I had a telescope. Same with most other amazing objects out there in the universe.

My soul is far from lost. Different strokes for different folks.


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TechPan6415
sage
*****

Reged: 07/29/12

Loc: Aspen, Co
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: audioaficionado]
      #5357491 - 08/08/12 02:00 AM

Quote:

It must be nice to have almost unlimited funds and live anywhere you want.




Yeah, must be nice, I sure as heck would not know, lol! I am not loaded my friend, why do you think I had to wait not years, but decades to get another scope?

My wife and I live in city subsidized and price capped housing, you can not make over a certain amount in order to live there and you have to bid on them in a lottery with other folks, it takes years. The 880 square foot two bedroom, one bath condo we live in costs the same as one in say, the average U.S. city. Maybe in a few years, we will no longer qualify and have to buy free market, we are getting close, so that is my hope, maybe for another 600-800 grand we could gain another 100-200 square feet....whoopie...

Look, all I want to do is inspire someone, even if one person to take a chance and make the move. I was homeless at 15, I had to fight like heck to get where I am, 110% hard work….

That is why I won't settle when it comes to my natural surroundings, but like you say, different strokes….


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: TechPan6415]
      #5357704 - 08/08/12 09:25 AM

Now, let's get back to the OP's question of how many miles.

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Steve Daniel
super member


Reged: 06/03/12

Loc: Austin, TX
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5357834 - 08/08/12 11:06 AM

I live in red on the jshine dark sky map.
It's 80 miles to the boundary between blue and light grey.
I'm driving 400 miles for dark grey this weekend. Woohoo!


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Steve Daniel]
      #5357922 - 08/08/12 12:04 PM

Have a fun time!

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Seldom
professor emeritus


Reged: 08/05/12

Loc: N of Cedar City Light Dome
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Starman81]
      #5363849 - 08/11/12 08:05 PM

Quote:

Quote:

My back yard's blue; that's why I dusted off my 6" f8 25 year old homemade Newt, and why I'm trying not to get Obsessed. Light gray's a 15 minute bike ride. Dark gray's an hour.




Congrats on your first post. Reading this thread, I hope you know how lucky you are! But then again, there are always trade-offs living in less densely populated areas.




Looking at jshine's map, it seems that the amount of light pollution is directly proportional to the possibilities of employment. Aside from that, life in dark sky areas can be pretty civilized. It's an hour to a Costco and 3 hours to a major city, but UPS comes right to our door. West Virginia has a nice gray hole, and Green Bank has a nifty GoTo scope.


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Seldom]
      #5365007 - 08/12/12 04:39 PM

Quote:

Looking at jshine's map, it seems that the amount of light pollution is directly proportional to the possibilities of employment.




Of course it is! Jobs attract people, and people use lights.


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JimMo
I'd Rather Do It Myself


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Under the SE Michigan lightdom...
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5365380 - 08/12/12 08:18 PM

I tried living in Colorado when I was 22. Went up to the mountains every chance I could. Couldn't make enough to stay and moved back east for a job.

Anyways, back on topic I drive 20 minutes south of the Detroit suburbs to get to a transition from red to orange, but it's on Lake Erie and it's darker to the E, SE, and S. I go there when I don't feel like driving further. Eight to ten times a year.

1:20 to get to a nice yellow spot SW of the SE Michigan light dome. I do this on new moon weekends when it's clear. 5-6 times a year.

4:00 hours + to grey and black skies in northern Michigan. Maybe once or twice a year and usually for more than one night and I camp.

Once every other year I'll go to a major star party. Last year was Oki-Tex and the Winter Star Party in '09, both about 1500 miles one way. These are at least a week to ten days in length including travel. This fall I will be going to either the Peach State(12 hrs.) or the Great Lakes Stargaze(3.5 hrs.)


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Seldom
professor emeritus


Reged: 08/05/12

Loc: N of Cedar City Light Dome
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5365417 - 08/12/12 08:42 PM

Quote:


Of course it is! Jobs attract people, and people use lights.



I thought that might have something to do with it.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Seldom]
      #5366095 - 08/13/12 09:50 AM

Drive about 50 miles outside of Denver to the DAS Dark Site (Blue Site)...and worth every mile of it...

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AJSmg
member


Reged: 06/15/12

Loc: New Almaden, CA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Steve Daniel]
      #5366954 - 08/13/12 05:32 PM

Frist off, I will drive 400 miles for a black sky, 1-2 times a year. Thankfully, my in-laws live in the middle of nowhere.

Weekly though, my change in method has changed how and where I observe.

I use to hall my scopes out to the barn (about 200 feet, yellow/green sky, in a deep 4000' valley) in manageable 30-40lbs chunks (10" Dob go-to, tak 102 on a g11, 12" cas on atlas), but then it dawned on me that I could just back up my station wagon, pile everything in, and make one trip.

The very next night I was off to a near by green mountain top, about 20 miles, and the next weekend was driving 40 miles to a blue/gray sky.

It was this habit of packing the car, that opened up the possibility of driving to a better location.

Now, even on an iffy Friday night, I pack the dob in the car. If it improves I drive 20-40 miles, if not, I drive 200 feet.

Edited by AJSmg (08/13/12 05:35 PM)


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vsteblina
sage


Reged: 11/05/07

Loc: Wenatchee, Washington
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: AJSmg]
      #5367011 - 08/13/12 06:01 PM

25 miles.

I don't understand why people have a hard time finding a job in the mountains. Never had problem and quite frankly had the choice of where I wanted to live in the mountain west.

I do believe that the Forestry degree was a big help.


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DarkSkys
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 10/11/10

Loc: In the dark desert of Eastern ...
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: vsteblina]
      #5367489 - 08/13/12 10:39 PM

Quote:

25 miles.

I don't understand why people have a hard time finding a job in the mountains. Never had problem and quite frankly had the choice of where I wanted to live in the mountain west.

I do believe that the Forestry degree was a big help.




Don't let everyone know about that, or the mountain west will be ruined too!


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bassplayer142
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/03/11

Loc: Michigan
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: DarkSkys]
      #5368230 - 08/14/12 12:18 PM

I've driven a few times into the michigan thumb at about 2 hours. This weekend I'll be heading up near Huron Forest in Michigan at about 3 hours for gray skies. Next year I was planning Cherry springs, but it quickly changed to plans for Gordons Park in Ontario. A ~5 hour drive with a hour or so ferry for roughly bortle 1 skies. Probably the closest black skies around....

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panhard
It's All Good
*****

Reged: 01/20/08

Loc: Markham Ontario Canada
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: bassplayer142]
      #5368282 - 08/14/12 12:44 PM

It's a 3+ hour drive to this site. dark sky site Or 5+ hour drive to Manitoulin Island. At least in Manitoulin I can stay with friends and get multiple nights viewing. There is a dark sky site there also that is very dark.

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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: DarkSkys]
      #5368342 - 08/14/12 01:11 PM

Quote:

Quote:

25 miles.

I don't understand why people have a hard time finding a job in the mountains. Never had problem and quite frankly had the choice of where I wanted to live in the mountain west.

I do believe that the Forestry degree was a big help.




Don't let everyone know about that, or the mountain west will be ruined too!




Because many of those jobs involve fighting forest fires and trapping bears and cougars and other dangerous things. I'd rather spend my outside time looking thru a telescope.


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Gastrol
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/04/11

Loc: los angeles
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: City Kid]
      #5368362 - 08/14/12 01:24 PM

Yes, it's nice having to drive ZERO miles to get under dark skies.

But under my circumstances and like many others, family, work, business, & etc pretty much dictate where we live and settle. Sure, it's nice to pack up and leave seeking cleaner air and darker skies.

I need to drive to enjoy many activities. For example:

Dark site: 90 miles
Fishing: 25 miles
Favorite mountain biking trail: 30 miles
Football at the Rose Bowl: 25 miles
Lakers at Staples Center: 5 miles
Dodger Stadium baseball: ZERO MILES
BBQ at my in-laws: 20 miles


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GeneT
Ely Kid
*****

Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5368621 - 08/14/12 03:53 PM

I drive about 22 miles from home for mag 4.8 skies. My backyard sports mag 3 skies, and trees that are too tall for viewing. I don't like to view from the front yard because I don't want to have drivers and walkers seeing that I have an expensive telescope. I have learned to enjoy the ride to the viewing site, and to make it part of the journey.

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Mike E.
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 01/26/10

Loc: Moonstone Observatory
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: GeneT]
      #5369959 - 08/15/12 11:37 AM

Our home on California's central coast is in a green zone. I observe from the field between our barn and house. About an hour and a half away is a black zone, just west of San Antonio Lake.
Here in the United Kingdom, I have to travel about an hour to get to a comparable green zone, and roughly two hours to get to a dark site in West Wales.


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Starman81
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 03/06/08

Loc: Metro Detroit, MI, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: bassplayer142]
      #5370981 - 08/16/12 01:29 AM

Quote:

I've driven a few times into the michigan thumb at about 2 hours. This weekend I'll be heading up near Huron Forest in Michigan at about 3 hours for gray skies. Next year I was planning Cherry springs, but it quickly changed to plans for Gordons Park in Ontario. A ~5 hour drive with a hour or so ferry for roughly bortle 1 skies. Probably the closest black skies around....




You've been on a roll this year hitting up all the dark sites within driving distance! Be sure to report back on your findings.


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bassplayer142
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/03/11

Loc: Michigan
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Starman81]
      #5371300 - 08/16/12 09:40 AM

I'm curious of the people who have been to Gordon's park in Ontario. Starman81. Didn't you have a go in the thumb? How was it?

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JimMo
I'd Rather Do It Myself


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Under the SE Michigan lightdom...
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: bassplayer142]
      #5371427 - 08/16/12 11:10 AM

Quote:

I've driven a few times into the michigan thumb at about 2 hours. This weekend I'll be heading up near Huron Forest in Michigan at about 3 hours for gray skies. Next year I was planning Cherry springs, but it quickly changed to plans for Gordons Park in Ontario. A ~5 hour drive with a hour or so ferry for roughly bortle 1 skies. Probably the closest black skies around....




I think it's further than 5 hrs. A fellow club member went there and reported over 7 hrs. to get there. Also, watch out for the black flies, they can be vicious.

Cherry Springs is a comparable distance but with much more southern sky due to the latitude difference. You should also try Lake Hudson, the SE Michigan light dome is to the NE and it's fairly dark to the south. If we get any clear weather this weekend I'll be there.


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FordGalaxy
member


Reged: 07/06/11

Loc: Virginia, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5371680 - 08/16/12 02:24 PM

It's two hours to a grey/black sight for me, but I live on the border of a green/blue Bortle 3/4a area, so I generally travel only to get a wider panorama of the sky. My favorite site is actually slightly brighter than at my home, but has almost the entire sky visible at once and is only 4 miles away. I don't think I'd go to a dedicated grey/black site more than once per year.

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GaryJCarter
sage
*****

Reged: 06/06/09

Loc: Fairview, Texas
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: FordGalaxy]
      #5371739 - 08/16/12 03:13 PM

Most of our observing is usually done at the house located in Orange/Red zone. Our monthly Outreach activities are typically conducted in town in much worse light pollution.

We'll drive an hour or two (up to 150 miles) to reach a blue/green zone several times a year. (Our property near Lake Texoma or the TAS dark site near Atoka, OK)

Two to three times a year we'll drive four or more hours to reach a black zone (i.e. Commanche Springs Astronomy Campus and the Texas Star Party).


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BJS
member


Reged: 05/23/09

Loc: NW Ohio
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: JimMo]
      #5371758 - 08/16/12 03:23 PM

I have been wanting to go up to Port St Cresent state park. I would like to hear just how dark it is up there. I talked with the ranger over the phone and they seem interested in atracting people with telescopes.

Jim: I have been to Hudson lake. It is a nice site. You do have to buy a state park parking pass however. Our club has an observing site west of Pioneer so that is where I go when seeking "dark skies" in nw ohio.

Brian


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JimMo
I'd Rather Do It Myself


Reged: 01/08/07

Loc: Under the SE Michigan lightdom...
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: BJS]
      #5371867 - 08/16/12 04:52 PM

Quote:

I have been wanting to go up to Port St Cresent state park. I would like to hear just how dark it is up there. I talked with the ranger over the phone and they seem interested in atracting people with telescopes.

Jim: I have been to Hudson lake. It is a nice site. You do have to buy a state park parking pass however. Our club has an observing site west of Pioneer so that is where I go when seeking "dark skies" in nw ohio.

Brian




Port St. Cresent has been getting some chatter on our club's yahoo group. I know of at least one member who has observed there and liked what he saw, very dark to the north and east over Lake Huron.

Lake Hudson does charge a fee although residents just add $10 bucks to the price of our license tabs and we're good for the year.

Maybe we'll run into each other someday. I sort of look like my avatar.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: JimMo]
      #5372877 - 08/17/12 10:23 AM

The DAS Denver dark site is about an hour's drive east of Denver. It's acutally closer than a lot of places people have mentioned to me to go to. I'd live there if I could; but my wife likes lights and flushable toilets. I usually try to get there once a month anyways...but with the weather, its been more like every other month.

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bassplayer142
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/03/11

Loc: Michigan
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: JimMo]
      #5373068 - 08/17/12 12:02 PM

JimMo, I've been to PCSP twice already this year and it is really good for michigan skies. I have posted both accounts at the following links. Let me know if you have any questions.

I must say, I'm rather surprised and happy there is so many michigan people here talking about michigan sites!

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5320821/Main/5318793

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5277530/Main/5274722


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Ron (Lubbock)
sage


Reged: 08/17/12

Loc: West TX
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: bassplayer142]
      #5379875 - 08/21/12 06:50 PM

I guess I am spoiled here in Lubbock, TX. I can reach a gray zone to the east in less than an hour, so my motivation to go further is rather low. I get some help from totally flat land and straight roads with 70 mph speed limits, though. I have not really taken advantage of the black zones and high elevations next door in NM, but I think I will try the 5 hr. drive out there once next summer.

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RobbW
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Reged: 02/09/10

Loc: Elgin, IL
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Ron (Lubbock)]
      #5381414 - 08/22/12 04:54 PM

Does it have to be how many miles you're willing to DRIVE? Does flying count? I am taking my one and only trip out to truly dark skies in October this year for the Enchanted Skies Star Party in Socorro, NM. So, I will be flying three hours from Chicago to Albuquerque. Then, I will rent a car and drive another two hours to get to the star party in a grey/black zone.

I so can't wait to see the stars under the NM sky!


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a D new [Re: RobbW]
      #5381559 - 08/22/12 06:33 PM

Quote:

Does it have to be how many miles you're willing to DRIVE? Does flying count? I am taking my one and only trip out to truly dark skies in October this year for the Enchanted Skies Star Party in Socorro, NM. So, I will be flying three hours from Chicago to Albuquerque. Then, I will rent a car and drive another two hours to get to the star party in a grey/black zone.

I so can't wait to see the stars under the NM sky!




Lived in NM for years. It really IS dark there around Soccoro. When I lived in Edgewood, NM, there was a slight light dome to the west, but not much, because I was on the East side of the mountain where the land gradually rose, the Albq side was like dropping off a cliff. The milky way was fantastic there.


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RobbW
sage


Reged: 02/09/10

Loc: Elgin, IL
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a D new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5381824 - 08/22/12 09:39 PM

Quote:

Lived in NM for years. It really IS dark there around Soccoro. When I lived in Edgewood, NM, there was a slight light dome to the west, but not much, because I was on the East side of the mountain where the land gradually rose, the Albq side was like dropping off a cliff. The milky way was fantastic there.




Thanks for that insight! Now I REALLY can't wait to get out there!


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toepick
member


Reged: 09/26/07

Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5413529 - 09/10/12 03:00 PM

It's an hour and 15 minute drive to my local spot - white to yellow. Two and a half to get to a green sky site. And up to 13 hours to get from Detroit to Deerlick Astronomy Village in Georgia.

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Avid Astronomer
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Reged: 07/29/11

Loc: Spain
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: toepick]
      #5413943 - 09/10/12 07:10 PM

I live in a suburb (5 miles from downtown) of Valencia (Spain), a 750.000 people city.

I have to drive NW 45 minutes for a SQM=21.3 site (3600 ft high) and, also NW, 90 minutes (because of very bad roads) for a SQM=21.6 site (4300 ft high).

I've been also at a SQM>21.6 site, 5 hours driving from here (7500 ft high), but this place is too far and too costly (gas is $9/gallon here).

The 21.6 site is dark enough and the 21.3 site is cheap enough to reach ... I can choose what's more important: money or darkness


Fernando


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CapPic
member


Reged: 09/05/12

Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Avid Astronomer]
      #5414978 - 09/11/12 11:15 AM

I just realized how good those of us living near I-35 in Texas have it. Most locations have a relatively short drive to a gray zone (or even a blue zone).

I will say that something puzzles me. The light pollution along the east coast makes sense because of the population density. But why is the Midwest so bad? I spent some years in Ohio and Kentucky and recall those states having very large rural expanses. Do all the farmers their point lights at the sky?


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: CapPic]
      #5415158 - 09/11/12 12:46 PM

Quote:

Why is the Midwest so bad?




It's not. The map is misleading because the color chosen to represent the pretty-darned-dark zone happens to be the color that looks brightest (green). See my blog on the subject.

Having said that, although Ohio is largely farmland, it is also full of medium-sized cities. You can probably see several different light domes from any given spot.

And also yes, farmers are famous for over-lighting their property.


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dvb
different Syndrome.
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Reged: 06/18/05

Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5415688 - 09/11/12 04:39 PM

I'll drive a long, long way to get dark skies, as long as I don't have to drive back home the same night.

Tomorrow I'm driving 200 mi (300 km) in about 3 hours to get to the Merritt Star Quest, which has Black skies.

I could also drive have that time and distance to get to Black skies in Manning park.

The difference for me is being able to leave the gear set up and crawl into my tent after observing until the wee hours (at least until 2:00 a.m., sometimes until 4:00 a.m.). That late, and that sleep deprived, I really don't want to drive anywhere.


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SL63 AMG
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 12/21/09

Loc: Williamson, Arizona
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5434959 - 09/22/12 07:20 PM

I'm done driving 1200 to 2000 miles for really dark skies.

I finally just decided to move!

Bortle Class 2 Dark Sky Location

Average SQM Reading 21.57

34° 40' 39" N 112° 32' 31" W

Clear Sky Chart - Space Igloo Observatory

It is truly amazing here. I can walk out side after sitting in front of my monitor for hours and the Milky way is visiable end to end. After about 20-30 minutes, it's unbelievable.



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Corky
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Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #5473499 - 10/16/12 04:00 PM

ZERO miles for me.
It's just too much hassle, too much time, and too inconvenient to do anything more than wheeling the scope out of the garage.
I guess I'm just not dedicated enough.


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JMW
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/11/07

Loc: Nevada
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Corky]
      #5473825 - 10/16/12 07:06 PM

I need to drive about an hour to go from a red/white zone to a gray zone. I will drive 3-10 hours for a several night large star party. Once I make the drive to dark skies I prefer to stay out most of the night. Some day I would like to fly to the southern hemisphere with one of my refractors to enjoy the parts of the sky unseen by those who live in the USA.

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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: JMW]
      #5474646 - 10/17/12 08:43 AM

You know Jeff, your comment just made another of those random thoughts I have come to mind. An Astronomy based Travel Agency working on a "time-share" trade basis. We could set up a database where Astronomers could list their location, available dark sites, available equipment, etc.; You go onto the site, punch in where you want to go, and it would come up with the places and equipment available; Also, you put in your location and equipment and see if anyone wants to trade places for a specified period of time. This could have benefits in that you wouldn't have to chance the airplane gorillas trashing your equipment; and as most take care of their equipment, chances are you'd end up with something better then what you could have carried with you. Eventually, you could have ratings (i.e. Great Equipment/Dark Skies, Place was in better shape then when I left)kind of like CN Classifieds has. I mean, there's an Aussie out there with a 10" Dob that would love to come to Colorado and have a 10" Dob at their disposal; and I'd LOVE (can't afford) to go to Australia and have a 10" Dob Available. There's always risk, but most people in the hobby I know, would take more care with someone else's equipment then they would their own. Uh, Oh, there's another new industry--Telescope Insurance!

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GpB311
sage


Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5475447 - 10/17/12 04:52 PM

If I travel out past Bakersfield on 178, id say I could be to a true gray or black zone in under 3 hours. At least according to the cleardarksky.com light pollution map.

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Illinois
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/18/06

Loc: near Dixon, Illinois USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: GpB311]
      #5476525 - 10/18/12 08:37 AM

Why is the midwest so bad? So many towns! Lot of large towns and many small town so theres no room for open space in Illinois to get dark sky! Few open get green zone and tiny blue zone!

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SKYGZR
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 08/14/09

Loc: Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy...
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Illinois]
      #5477243 - 10/18/12 03:30 PM

I travel about 250 miles, for about 5.5 hrs, yet when I do it, I stay for 7-10 days/nights. (Motor Home)

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omahaastro
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Reged: 08/30/06

Loc: Omaha, NE
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: SKYGZR]
      #5478142 - 10/19/12 01:30 AM

If it weren't for clouds and wind (and cold, although man is slowly changing that it would seem), eastern Nebraska isn't too bad... right on the edge of 'middle of nowhere'. I've got blue within about an hour, grey about an hour and a half, and black is 4 hours towards the Sand Hills where NSP is held. Solid greens all around within a half hour.

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krp
Vendor. DarkSiteFinder.com


Reged: 11/10/10

Loc: Central Illinois
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: omahaastro]
      #5479266 - 10/19/12 06:29 PM

The place I usually observe from is in a "good" orange zone and it's 20 miles (30 minutes) away. A green zone is about 130 miles away (3 hours), but I've only gone there once. Next spring I plan to seek out even darker skies. If you like dark skies Illinois is not the place to be.

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DocLiv
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Reged: 01/28/12

Loc: West Columbia, SC
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: krp]
      #5479904 - 10/20/12 04:28 AM

For dark skies I go to the Deerlick astronomy village. It's about a 2 hour drive for me. It's well worth the trip.

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habitforming
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Reged: 09/04/12

Loc: KY
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: DocLiv]
      #5505489 - 11/05/12 02:02 PM

So far I'm just getting started and don't have much interest in making a long drive for darker skies. I'm under orange, borderline yellow and know that I'm missing out on a lot. Unfortunately, I don't find many opportunities to make a long trip for observing, especially when considering weather & life cooperating.

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Ron Walker
member


Reged: 01/07/06

Loc: Arizona
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: habitforming]
      #5530426 - 11/20/12 03:30 PM

At home I have a dark sky meter reading of 20.4 on average. We have some property in the middle of nowhere that is five hours away (about 250 miles) that gets a meter reading of 21.8. We have a trailer there and will spend up to a week at a time. Beautiful dark sky views as we always time for a new moon.

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SubaruB4
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Reged: 11/14/12

Loc: Greenwich, CT
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Ron Walker]
      #5530671 - 11/20/12 05:31 PM

At the most I would do 90 miles depending on what's going on.. if it's something special then I could do 120.

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Mustapha.Mond
member


Reged: 10/01/13

Loc: Houston, Texas
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: CapPic]
      #6405099 - 03/02/14 06:25 AM

Quote:

I just realized how good those of us living near I-35 in Texas have it. Most locations have a relatively short drive to a gray zone (or even a blue zone).





Sorry for bumping a 1.5 year-old thread. Living in Houston, I'm thankful for being closer to the best dark skies in the lower 48 vs people in the Northeast megalopolis/megaregion. It's 1h away to the closest green/blue site; 4h away to gray; and 7-8h away to a black site.

I'll do the 1h/60-mile trip every weekend, weather/work permitting. The gray site (300 miles) once or twice a month. Finally, Fort Davis and truly dark areas (600 miles) I'll go every other month.

I also appreciate my 120mm refractor more. There are several people in this thread who won't make the long drive because of their bigger scopes. A 4.7" refractor under 7.0-8.0 NELM skies is better than a 10-12" lightbucket in an urban area imo.


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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Mustapha.Mond]
      #6405188 - 03/02/14 08:59 AM

I would only point out that willingness to drive vast cross-country distances (mostly on unrestricted highways mind you) to access really dark skies is largely an aspect of the mid-western mentality and to a lesser degree those in the far west, where such trips are often taken as commonplace. While I freely admit it is very difficult to reach a blue/green site from anywhere within the core region of the Megalopolis with just a 60-90 minute drive, only a vanishingly small segment of hobbyists would ever be willing to make a 7-8 hour trip EVEN ONCE A YEAR to gain a Bortle class 0-1 view. Believe me; many of us just as easily reach many "grey" sites with a 300-350 mile trip and even "black" ones in 7-8 hours, in spite of need for largely restricted urban driving much of the way. But how many among us really want it that bad for only a weekend sojourn?!

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (03/02/14 09:17 AM)


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Mustapha.Mond
member


Reged: 10/01/13

Loc: Houston, Texas
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6406879 - 03/03/14 01:36 AM

Hm, I never really thought of my geographic area affecting my driving preference. That's interesting. One of the things I noticed in the NE megalopolis is how close/cramped the area felt. Parking was harder, fuel more expensive, and speeds were much slower.

I didn't know Bortle class 0-1 sites were a 7-8h drive. That's not bad at all. If I lived in NYC, I'd likely drive to Maine every month. You're right about the vanishingly small segment. Once I saw a true dark site, urban observing was dead to me. I became spoiled.

To someone interested in visual astronomy, I'd say dark skies and extra money for fuel and/or airfare to get away from cities is more important than aperture, optics, or quality EPs.


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Eric38
member
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Reged: 05/04/07

Loc: Chicago
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: City Kid]
      #6407352 - 03/03/14 11:27 AM

It takes an hour just to get to an orange zone from here, Dupage county west of Chicago. That is our "Dark" site. The nearest grey zones are a days drive to northern Wisconsin or northwest Missouri.

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Tony Flanders
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Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6407492 - 03/03/14 12:52 PM

Quote:

I would only point out that willingness to drive vast cross-country distances (mostly on unrestricted highways mind you) to access really dark skies is largely an aspect of the mid-western mentality and to a lesser degree those in the far west.




I actually think of it more as a phenomenon of the Far West than the Midwest -- and for good reason. It takes forever to get anywhere in the West!

Quote:

Only a vanishingly small segment of hobbyists would ever be willing to make a 7-8 hour trip EVEN ONCE A YEAR to gain a Bortle class 0-1 view.




Actually, the Great North Woods are only about a 4-hour drive from Boston, which is thinkable for a weekend. And the central Adirondacks are about 6 hours from New York.

But if I'm going to make a longer trip specifically for observing, I'm much more likely to fly to the West, where dark sites are ubiquitous and, to misquote the famous song, "the skies are not cloudy all night." I'm vastly likelier to find clear, transparent skies in the great Southwest than in Maine.


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aatt
sage


Reged: 07/26/12

Loc: CT
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Eric38]
      #6407556 - 03/03/14 01:27 PM

I drive an hour and 10 minutes to a green bordering on blue zone. This summer I will drive to Spruce Knob West Va-a full day's drive and possibly Northern Maine (5-6hours)

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patg43
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Reged: 12/20/13

Loc: Union, Washington
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: aatt]
      #6407819 - 03/03/14 04:24 PM

I recently took a long road trip with astronomical observations being first priority. I found the place I ended up being more beautiful than I could have dreamed during the day, and 1000 times better and darker than home at night. Very low humidity, and a scant cloud population that usually broke up early. I really left home because it would not quit raining, so I took a 1300 mile tour to get to a cancelled star party(It was cancelled for clouds, but I think it was the best sky I had seen with my scope). I will be doing the same at the end of this month, hopefully this party won't be cancelled. Along the way I saw a great many things, and even got to look at the Sun through a Coronado on a tour of Percival Lowell's Observatory, the standard tour, and one by the Mechanic/Fabricator/Everything Fixer Guy, Ralph. I got to check out PL's 118 year old scope, got a bunch of pics too. I got a tour of the telescope part machine shop, where if you can dream it you can build it. Trust me dreams are pretty cool on paper, I saw the blueprints for the DCT. I also saw Venus being chased by Moon from dawn until midday, while I was visiting the Grand Canyon. That was so cool. I busted out the scope when we got to the parking lot at like 7 am. People were milling around it wanting to look, of course I obliged. I gotta say I can reach dark skies here at home but can't do all that stuff too. To reach dry sky without a bit of a tour is about impossible around here, at least for the next few months.

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Dave Mitsky
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Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: patg43]
      #6424780 - 03/23/14 02:38 PM

The ASH Naylor Observatory is 10 miles from my home but the skies haven't been very dark there for more than two decades. The closest reasonably dark site that I use is 39 miles distant. Two other sites that I frequent, the closer one being considerably darker, are about 50 and 55-mile drives. Two of the best "local" sites take approximately 75 and 90 minutes to reach. Cherry Springs State Park is a bit more than 160 miles away and Spruce Knob is about 230.

Dave Mitsky


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John Fitzgerald
In Focus
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Reged: 01/04/04

Loc: AR
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Dave Mitsky]
      #6431155 - 03/26/14 08:47 PM

It is 34 miles to my gray zone mountaintop site. About a 50 minute semi winding drive, with only two stop signs, no traffic sigs, and little traffic.

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theritz
member


Reged: 04/12/11

Loc: The Netherlands
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: John Fitzgerald]
      #6443163 - 04/02/14 09:42 AM

I leave The Netherlands twice a year for dark skies (black zone, rural). It's a six hour drive to former eastern Germany. Together with northern France it's the darkest I can get to without loosing a whole day in the car.
In The Netherlands it's really bad. There are green zones one hour away but they do have loads of light domes since it's heavily populated over here.


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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: theritz]
      #6443329 - 04/02/14 11:13 AM

Theritz, since you are from the Netherlands, I'd like to ask a question. Just the other day I saw a recent satellite light pollution map of Europe and was struck by the degree of light pollution in your country and Belgium to the south. Based on the satellite image it would appear that the Netherlands and Belgium, by a very wide margin, the most brilliantly lit countries, as a whole, anywhere! There seem to be no areas within its borders that do not suffer severely from light pollution. In all the surrounding countries, once beyond the boundaries of major cities, the sky is indicated to be relatively dark...but not in the Netherlands! Just what manner of program, or civic plan, is in place driving this seeming desire for universal illumination?

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (04/02/14 11:19 AM)


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Tony Flanders
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Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6443368 - 04/02/14 11:45 AM

Quote:

Theritz, since you are from the Netherlands, I'd like to ask a question. Just the other day I saw a recent satellite light pollution map of Europe and was struck by the degree of light pollution in your country and Belgium to the south. Based on the satellite image it would appear that the Netherlands and Belgium, by a very wide margin, the most brilliantly lit countries, as a whole, anywhere! There seem to be no areas within its borders that do not suffer severely from light pollution. In all the surrounding countries, once beyond the boundaries of major cities, the sky is indicated to be relatively dark...but not in the Netherlands! Just what manner of program, or civic plan, is in place driving this seeming desire for universal illumination?




It's called the Rhine River. Due to the abundant soil it has deposited, this is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Its only serious rival in Bangladesh, fed by not one but two rivers, each much mightier than the Rhine.

Per capita, the lighting in the area isn't out of the ordinary. In fact, you will note that while it has no dark areas, it also has much smaller super-bright areas than the less densely populated Eastern Seaboard in the U.S.


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sparkyht
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Reged: 11/10/07

Loc: 43N 89W
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6444215 - 04/02/14 08:29 PM

50 minutes north to a dark yellow zone or 50 minutes south to an orange zone, both are state parks I like to observe from in SE Wisconsin.

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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6449976 - 04/05/14 11:55 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Theritz, since you are from the Netherlands, I'd like to ask a question. Just the other day I saw a recent satellite light pollution map of Europe and was struck by the degree of light pollution in your country and Belgium to the south. Based on the satellite image it would appear that the Netherlands and Belgium, by a very wide margin, the most brilliantly lit countries, as a whole, anywhere! There seem to be no areas within its borders that do not suffer severely from light pollution. In all the surrounding countries, once beyond the boundaries of major cities, the sky is indicated to be relatively dark...but not in the Netherlands! Just what manner of program, or civic plan, is in place driving this seeming desire for universal illumination?




It's called the Rhine River. Due to the abundant soil it has deposited, this is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Its only serious rival in Bangladesh, fed by not one but two rivers, each much mightier than the Rhine.

Per capita, the lighting in the area isn't out of the ordinary. In fact, you will note that while it has no dark areas, it also has much smaller super-bright areas than the less densely populated Eastern Seaboard in the U.S.




Interesting explanation, but I still find it difficult to believe that the blanket illumination in this region is simiply a result of population density, rather than the result of some sort of governmental design, or program.

A simply vast portion of The Netherlands/Belgium is utterly blanketed by the orange color - an unbroken area distinctly larger in square miles than any comparable developed country elsewhere in the world! While the U.S. East Coast may have far more intense consentrations of urban illumination, it is still possible to escape these to areas ranked as at least green in just modest travel time. Not so in heart of either of the European countries mentioned. I think that I'd much prefer to be right here on the outer fringes of the NYC light dome than to be over there, where escape from a bright sky seems a futile effort.

BrooksObs


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Vondragonnoggin
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Reged: 02/21/10

Loc: Southern CA, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: BrooksObs]
      #6450144 - 04/06/14 02:03 AM

I'll drive about 35 miles. Takes me about an hour to traverse the winding roads up to elevation level and moderately dark skies, but I only do this about twice a year. I found my light pollution remedy in image intensifiers and good filtering. Just tonight in AT72ED caught Rosette, Horsehead, flame, M81, M82, Orion extending out all the way to running man, multiple clusters. White zone and waxing crescent moon up.

I can't drive away all the time, so I have a rather expensive bandage for LP.


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Kevdog
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Reged: 07/11/12

Loc: Desert Hills, AZ
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #6456252 - 04/09/14 11:00 AM

Quote:

That is, if a green zone is within an hour (which I think it is for 90% of Americans) how much further would you be willing to drive to get to a grey/black zone?




I'm an at-home observer, so I never want to drive to get to a dark sky site. My house is in an orange zone, so it's reasonable, but not great. But I just roll my scope out and am viewing in 15 mins and then I'm out for 1-2 hrs.

We do go camping quite a lot and I take my C11 which gets me to various green-black zones. But it's not a special trip for astronomy, but more like I might get my C11 out one night we're there.

Maybe when my son has moved away from home, (he's 7 now) we might drive out on weekends to get to darker skies.

When I retire I think we're going to move out of the big city to somewhere smaller and darker (maybe Silver City, NM).


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17.5Dob
super member


Reged: 03/21/13

Loc: Colorado,USA
It's 30 min to a green/blue zone from my house new [Re: mantrain]
      #6457141 - 04/09/14 07:02 PM

I live in a red zone and "make do" unless the forecast is for excellent conditions and there's no moon. Then I make the short drive, 1-2 X a month.

But I can also get to a grey/black zone, in 1 1/2 to 2 hrs, that I like to do, 3-4 times/yr.


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svdwal
super member


Reged: 03/10/13

Loc: Leiden, The Netherlands
Re: It's 30 min to a green/blue zone from my house new [Re: 17.5Dob]
      #6457630 - 04/10/14 12:09 AM

In The Netherlands, it is population density partly mixed with greenhouse lightning. In Belgium its population density mixed with a general highway illumination at night.

And maybe people being way too anxious. For example, there is now a program underway to stop illuminating the highways at night. Immediately some people start complaining that there might be elderly people who will now not be able to drive at night because all the lights are off.

All that anxiety is probably the result of people living in brightly lit cities where it is never dark.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: It's 30 min to a green/blue zone from my house new [Re: svdwal]
      #6462078 - 04/12/14 12:51 PM

Be afraid, be very afraid.....its dark out there and nothing might happen.....

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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: It's 30 min to a green/blue zone from my house new [Re: svdwal]
      #6462397 - 04/12/14 04:02 PM

Quote:

In The Netherlands, it is population density partly mixed with greenhouse lightning. In Belgium its population density mixed with a general highway illumination at night.

And maybe people being way too anxious. For example, there is now a program underway to stop illuminating the highways at night. Immediately some people start complaining that there might be elderly people who will now not be able to drive at night because all the lights are off.

All that anxiety is probably the result of people living in brightly lit cities where it is never dark.




Very interesting and more logical for the given marginal conditions spreading over such a broad region than population density alone. Guess ya gotta get them bulbs and flowers up and growing as fast as possible (I'm aware of how The Netherlands is the largest flower supplier in Europe and have seen spectacular images of the fields as seen from the air). Still, in spite of all that surrounding beauty, it must make finding dark skies a much greater challenge than it is for folks in most of the rest of the developed world. Thanks for the clarification.

BrooksObs


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Philler
sage


Reged: 07/15/13

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: mantrain]
      #6467506 - 04/15/14 11:58 AM

About 55 miles to a blue site I use regularly. I can get to a grey area about 75 miles from home.

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darknesss
super member


Reged: 09/05/13

Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: Philler]
      #6479426 - 04/21/14 03:55 PM

7 miles max

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LateViewer
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Manhattan
Re: Survey, how many miles will you drive for a Dark new [Re: darknesss]
      #6481973 - 04/22/14 08:14 PM

2.5 hours for dark green to blue.

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