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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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tecmageModerator
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 01/13/10

Loc: Glenview, IL
Not new and not so dark skies
      #6082815 - 09/15/13 09:02 PM

At the beginning of July, I decided to take another job. That meant giving up my not so dark, but increasingly familiar southeastern Connecticut skies for the bright skies of Chicago. I was very excited to move back to where I grew up.

Since my scopes are still packed away, I've been trying to do a little naked eye observing. Here's just a few of my early observations:
1) I had it good in Groton. Yes, between the lights from Electric Boat (Submarine shipyard), Coast Guard Academy and Sub Base New London, there was a lot of light pollution in the area. Even with those three facilities (and Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos) there wasn't that much light pollution because there was only Long Island Sound to the south, and Boston, NYC, Providence and Hartford were far enough away to give me decent skies.

2) The light dome from Chicago covers a lot of my new southern sky. With O'Hare a few miles southwest, the skies are pretty mucky, and I haven't gotten used to the additional light pollution.

3) I've got two HUGE trees (30+ feet each) in the yard that are going to affect my observing.

4) In spite of the brighter skies, I sat in a chair one night and watched the Pleiades move across the sky. It felt good seeing the Seven Sisters again.

5) We have a LOT of skunks in the area. We pulled up in the driveway one night to find THREE of them running through our yard! That's going to be a challenge!

6) North and West of here are dark skies that aren't too far away. The familay and I went out to Elgin to visit some family and the skies were very dark!

7) I figure it will take a couple of more weeks to clear and rearrange enough stuff to make put the scopes in a place that I can easily access. Then it's back to regular observing. I 'll probably start by getting back to working on my Lunar II list, then moving out deeper into space.


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Qwickdraw
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: tecmage]
      #6083320 - 09/16/13 06:29 AM

Sounds like you will be very acquainted with the solar system observing if you are not already, good look.

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SporQ
member


Reged: 09/03/13

Loc: Indiana, USA
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #6083373 - 09/16/13 08:04 AM

Darkest skies are over the Lake. Good luck in your new home! Sorry it had to be in Chicago.

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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: SporQ]
      #6083387 - 09/16/13 08:19 AM

In Chicago, they're referred to as "Kitty, Kitty".....just feed'em....they'll cuddle around your feet and everyone will leave you alone.......

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sparkyht
member
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Reged: 11/10/07

Loc: 43N 89W
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: csrlice12]
      #6085023 - 09/16/13 11:22 PM

Some good folks here at CN pointed me to what is now one of my preferred observing spots, the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Wisconsin. I go down there from Milwaukee whenever I can. It's about 56 miles from Glenview.

There even is a group of other astro-enthusiasts who frequent the park, you can check out their website at http://www.bsraaa.org/ During the warmer months, they have public observing for the campers on clear Saturday evenings. Astronomers are welcome to set up in parking lot F and they have permission from the park to stay late well into the AM if one so chooses. The rangers even shut off their headlights when they pass by the observing spot. I can PM you the email address of one of the lead contacts if you wish.

Other places to check out are the Green River State Wildlife Area west of you about 122 miles, or Harrington Beach State Park north about 113 miles in Belgium, WI, which is home to the Northern Cross Science Foundation's observatory http://www.ncsf.info/ There are VERY dark skies "up nort" as we like to say, upstate and in "da U.P." (Michigan)

Since you're new to the Chicagoland area, I'll let you know that many IL folk love to vacation up in Wisconsin, lots of camping, hunting, fishing, and of course the Wisconsin Dells is THE place for family fun. Next summer, you should check out Milwaukee's Summerfest, which is a two-week long music festival unlike anything you have experienced. There are also great ethnic festivals all summer long on the Summerfest grounds: Festa Italiana, Irish Fest, Fiesta Mexicana, German Fest, Polish Fest, etc.

Us Wisconsinites may talk a little funny, but most of us are friendly as heck. Just don't become a Bears fan, stick with the Pats

Clear skies


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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: sparkyht]
      #6085491 - 09/17/13 08:46 AM

Gotta love a place named "Bong".....

Hey Honey, think I'll go out all night tonight and hit the Bong...... Sorry, couldn't resist.

I'd like to view from the Detroit Lakes area of MN. My sister in law lives there.....and theres a whole lot of dark up there...in fact, Audobon MN is just down the road from her.


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magic612
Post Laureate
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Reged: 09/30/08

Loc: S. of Chicago's light dome
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: tecmage]
      #6085528 - 09/17/13 09:11 AM

Quote:

At the beginning of July, I decided to take another job. That meant giving up my not so dark, but increasingly familiar southeastern Connecticut skies for the bright skies of Chicago. I was very excited to move back to where I grew up.




I was opposite - grew up in Connecticut (SW though) and now live in the Chicago area. Yeah, the skies suck - although some areas are worse than others. I'm in one of the few, "I can see more than a few stars" areas. I used to live in Palatine; at least I could see stars there (well, 20 years ago). Then I moved to Forest Park - when I lived there I was lucky to see two dozen stars in the sky. Now I live well south - it's the only area closest to the Loop that offers semi-decent skies, because the suburbs seem to grow outward from the airports, and (so far, until they build the "third airpot") we are far enough away from O'Hare there's 4.5 to 5.0 magnitude stars visible overhead.

sparkyht gave you a great option with Green River - lots of people even from my neck of the woods head there, because it's one of the best spots in the state to get the darkest skies. Another one to consider, a bit closer to home, is Braidwood, here: http://www.observingsites.com/ds_il.htm I've never actually been there, but observing reports from others indicates it's pretty darn good given its proximity to Chicago. Granted, that's quite a haul for you (1 hr & 20 min), but it's the best site in the area short of observing objects east over the lake.

Also, there's the 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" option: Joe Guzman, one of my friends in the astro-community, is "The Chicago Astronomer." He occasionally sets up scopes (along with his merry band of volunteers like me) at the Adler Planetarium on clear nights to share the sky with those who happen to be walking out that way in the evening. The lighting is terrible, so we generally just target the Moon and planets (maybe a bright cluster or double star), but it's a lot of fun. Sometimes we'll have 20 people stop by, other times 200, and it's always an enjoyable time with friendly amateur astronomers from all over the area.

I believe there are a couple of clubs up your way too - Lake County I think? And the Northwest Suburban group, if I recall. I'm not as familiar with those organizations since I live well south. Oh, and speaking of south, also a bit of a haul, but the Kankakee River State Park - Chippewa Campground (not Potowatomi, it's more forested) isn't too bad in a few of the non-electric sites in the southeast section of the campground. For $8 (and whatever gas it takes you to get there), you can have semi-decent skies and hopefully not too many folks with lights on their RV's, and at least have a shot at seeing more than you can from near O'Hare.

Hope that helps.


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tecmageModerator
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/13/10

Loc: Glenview, IL
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: sparkyht]
      #6085722 - 09/17/13 10:56 AM

Thanks for the comments, local clubs and observing areas.

Quote:

Us Wisconsinites may talk a little funny, but most of us are friendly as heck. Just don't become a Bears fan, stick with the Pats




Full disclosure- I grew up in Chicago, so the whole Packers thing doesn't work for me.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: tecmage]
      #6085732 - 09/17/13 11:01 AM

Neither did the Cubs......

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Starman81
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 03/06/08

Loc: Metro Detroit, MI, USA
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: csrlice12]
      #6086458 - 09/17/13 05:39 PM

Prairies Skies Star Party is coming up soon (Oct New Moon), check it out.

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GeneT
Ely Kid
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Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: tecmage]
      #6086688 - 09/17/13 08:07 PM

You reinforce the point that any clear night sky is a good sky--some are just better than others. A few years ago, we were walking around the Las Vegas strip. My 12 year old grandson was with us. I asked him--what Mag skies do we have? He looked up and said 'Mag 1.' All we could see was Jupiter. We went up to the third level of a parking garage that opened to the roof. He looked around and said 'we are now at Mag 3.' Just three levels up a parking garage tremendously improved the Las Vegas skies.

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Qwickdraw
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: sparkyht]
      #6087410 - 09/18/13 07:29 AM

Quote:

Some good folks here at CN pointed me to what is now one of my preferred observing spots, the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Wisconsin.




Okay, there has to be a joke in there somewhere. A whole new meaning to star party?


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

Loc: montana
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: Qwickdraw]
      #6087521 - 09/18/13 09:00 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Some good folks here at CN pointed me to what is now one of my preferred observing spots, the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Wisconsin.




Okay, there has to be a joke in there somewhere. A whole new meaning to star party?




Only if one wishes to joke about a WWII veteran's name.

Link


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tecmageModerator
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/13/10

Loc: Glenview, IL
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6089022 - 09/18/13 10:16 PM

Bong SRA isn't too far away, but the closest site to me is at work.

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tecmageModerator
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/13/10

Loc: Glenview, IL
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: tecmage]
      #6089036 - 09/18/13 10:28 PM

Tonight is fantastic! Last night was cloudy, and late today we had rain and thunderstorms move through. Long story short, there a full moon AND clouds with active lightening within several degrees of each other!

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Qwickdraw
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 03/03/12

Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Re: Not new and not so dark skies new [Re: csa/montana]
      #6089427 - 09/19/13 06:45 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Some good folks here at CN pointed me to what is now one of my preferred observing spots, the Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Wisconsin.




Okay, there has to be a joke in there somewhere. A whole new meaning to star party?




Only if one wishes to joke about a WWII veteran's name.

Link




As far as I know, I have the most unusual name there is "Removed", from what I know doing research my 1st and last name combination only belongs to me. While not a vet myself my name is often the butt of many jokes. I laugh about them just as much as anybody else. I would assume if he was brave enough to fight in WWII a little fun with his name isn't going to bother him. No disrespect meant.

Edited by Qwickdraw (09/20/13 06:41 AM)


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