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#426 Dobserver

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Posted 05 January 2021 - 06:59 PM

I live in the Los Angeles area (Bortle 8 skies), so I've been experimenting with different locations the past six months. I used to love Mount Pinos growing up, but the past 20-25 years have brought a devastating increase in light pollution. As a teen in the late 90s, I had a naked-eye sighting of M81 one exceptional night! Bear in mind I didn't know that this was possible (or impossible); I just saw it and confirmed it with binoculars. Two decades later, it is a pale imitation of what it was bawling.gif . So exploring new sites has been necessary.

The best location I've found so far is a little place east of Lone Pine off the 190 highway, on a dirt road called Talc City Cutoff, elevation ~5200 ft. It has a hill between it and the main highway so as to block any passing headlights. Unfortunately, the eastern sky is quite open and the Las Vegas light dome can be seen easily, 130 miles away. But such is life in Southern California-- none shall escape the icy grip of its broad-spectrum LED grasp lol.gif 

Despite this, the site is still DARK, rather darker than Amboy Crater, another Southern California dark site. It's listed as a Bortle 1 but I have a feeling it's really a dark 2. I went there in mid-November, and the detail and color in the Orion nebula with my 12" are beyond description. M78, the Flame Nebula, and other nebulosities I've never seen before were bright, detailed, and all over the place! I'm definitely gonna go back there when it warms up, maybe try going up Saline Valley Route, which is nearby. Anyone in So Cal should check this area out, especially if you live in, say, Northern Los Angeles.


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#427 Starman1

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Posted 06 January 2021 - 02:57 AM

I reported on another thread about the SQM measurements at Mt. Pinos in SoCal since 2005.
In 16 years the site's variation has been only a couple tenths of a magnitude, following the solar cycle up and down.
I started going there in '77 and I recall having some spectacular nights there but the darkest night over all those years was in Mar.2007.
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#428 Dobserver

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Posted 06 January 2021 - 11:25 PM

I reported on another thread about the SQM measurements at Mt. Pinos in SoCal since 2005.
In 16 years the site's variation has been only a couple tenths of a magnitude, following the solar cycle up and down.
I started going there in '77 and I recall having some spectacular nights there but the darkest night over all those years was in Mar.2007.

It's funny... I was at Chuchupate last month and boy was there a lot of light pollution.

But I was wondering... can it still get really dark at Pinos if the fog comes in over Bakersfield/San Joaquin Valley? How often does that happen? I imagine it happens more in the winter and spring. What about fog over the SJV and LA metro area? Has it been your experience that this can happen regularly, and how much darker does the sky get?



#429 Starman1

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Posted 06 January 2021 - 11:44 PM

It's funny... I was at Chuchupate last month and boy was there a lot of light pollution.
But I was wondering... can it still get really dark at Pinos if the fog comes in over Bakersfield/San Joaquin Valley? How often does that happen? I imagine it happens more in the winter and spring. What about fog over the SJV and LA metro area? Has it been your experience that this can happen regularly, and how much darker does the sky get?

Yes, usually something that happens in late winter. I've seen the entirety of SoCal covered in 6000' of low clouds and fog, leaving the top in clear air above the clouds with no light whatsoever in any direction. The sky becomes pristine and the sky is as good as it gets on Earth.
It's not common but it happens.
When that happens, Chuchupate is usually in fog.

#430 Dobserver

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Posted 07 January 2021 - 12:31 AM

Amazing. If only that would happen more. How much light pollution was at Pinos back in 1977?



#431 Starman1

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Posted 07 January 2021 - 03:11 PM

I didn't have an objective way of evaluating the difference.  I would guess it was less if for no other reason than the population of SoCal was <50% what it is now.

But I had less experience and smaller scopes, so I was viewing different objects than now.


Edited by Starman1, 07 January 2021 - 03:11 PM.

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#432 GilATM

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Posted 07 January 2021 - 04:55 PM

Yes, usually something that happens in late winter. I've seen the entirety of SoCal covered in 6000' of low clouds and fog, leaving the top in clear air above the clouds with no light whatsoever in any direction. The sky becomes pristine and the sky is as good as it gets on Earth.
It's not common but it happens.
When that happens, Chuchupate is usually in fog.

Is there a weather report that gives cloud/fog height/ceiling to try to take more advantage of these events?   (I have looked and could not find anything - I thought that pilots might have such information available.)

Gil



#433 Starman1

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Posted 07 January 2021 - 04:57 PM

https://www.meteoblu...america_5383225

and

https://www.windy.co....086,-118.490,6


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#434 Voyager 3

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Posted 08 January 2021 - 12:39 AM

Wow I was shocked to see 0 cloud cover but then realised it wasn't my location bawling.gif blush.gif  . But that's a paradise for observing waytogo.gif .



#435 Starman1

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Posted 08 January 2021 - 01:17 AM

Wow I was shocked to see 0 cloud cover but then realised it wasn't my location bawling.gifblush.gif . But that's a paradise for observing waytogo.gif .

Yeah, I should have noted you need to pick your own location.
I really like Windy.com

#436 GilATM

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Posted 13 January 2021 - 07:48 PM

Those are great!  Thanks!   I will, of course, continue to take it "on the chin" when reality varies from prediction.   The universe is a complicated system.  

Gil 


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#437 river-z

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 08:47 PM

Just spent a week at the cottage my grandparents owned when I was a kid, and visited every summer (now it belongs to my cousin). It’s on the southeast end of Beaver Island, one of the darkest spots in the eastern part of the USA. I always knew it was dark and enjoyed looking at the stars there, but last week was the first time I took a telescope and wow the Milky Way was out and it was incredible. I just loved the way it stretched across Lake Michigan. Jupiter was so bright it cast a reflective glow on the water like the moon does. One night the seeing was so good I split the b and c stars in Alkalurops (1.5 arc seconds!) with my 81mm refractor.

This spot was already one of my favorite places in the world because of the wonderful times I’ve spent there growing up, but now it’s also a favorite place to see the stars too.

Dropped pin
https://goo.gl/maps/N9kqwV3v3cg72Ghs7

SQM readings of 21.7 one night, 21.4 another night.
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#438 weis14

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Posted 29 June 2021 - 08:37 AM

I live in Mi

 

Just spent a week at the cottage my grandparents owned when I was a kid, and visited every summer (now it belongs to my cousin). It’s on the southeast end of Beaver Island, one of the darkest spots in the eastern part of the USA. I always knew it was dark and enjoyed looking at the stars there, but last week was the first time I took a telescope and wow the Milky Way was out and it was incredible. I just loved the way it stretched across Lake Michigan. Jupiter was so bright it cast a reflective glow on the water like the moon does. One night the seeing was so good I split the b and c stars in Alkalurops (1.5 arc seconds!) with my 81mm refractor.

This spot was already one of my favorite places in the world because of the wonderful times I’ve spent there growing up, but now it’s also a favorite place to see the stars too.

Dropped pin
https://goo.gl/maps/N9kqwV3v3cg72Ghs7

SQM readings of 21.7 one night, 21.4 another night.

I live in Michigan and Beaver Island is great!

 

I have a few favorite sites of my own.  The first is my mother's house south of US-23 between Omer and Au Gres.  It is Bortle 2-3 on a good night with good transparency.  The biggest issue there is that it is only a mile or two from Lake Huron and the property is very marshy.  This results in many nights with high humidity and associated low transparency (and lots of bugs).  It also often requires very active dew control measures, even for visual.  That said, on a good night M33 is easy with the unaided eye.  

 

The second semi-private site I have access to is my father-in-law's cabin on the North Branch of the Au Sable river off of McMaster's Bridge Road north of M-72.  While densely wooded, there are a few clearings where the zenith is visible.  This site is probably Bortle 1-2 and is one of the few places east of the Mississippi where I have seen the summer Milky Way cast a shadow.  It is truly magnificent.

 

There are also a number of pretty good public sites in the Lower Peninsula (and easier to get to than Beaver Island):

 

1. Port Crescent State Park:  This site is in the Thumb north of Caseville on the Saginaw Bay.  The Michigan DNR actively promotes the site for astronomy use.  I've never taken a scope there, but went for several meteor showers and to look for the aurora north over Lake Huron.

 

2. Huron National Forest Lumberman's Monument: This site is a bit difficult to get to, but is in the middle of nowhere.  There is a ton of public land around, so sometimes there is a lot of traffic, campfires, etc. that can cause issues.

 

3. Headlands International Dark Sky Park:  Wonderful location.  Skies are probably Bortle 3, but the amenities and ease of getting there make up for it.  Often this park is overrun with visitors, especially if there is some noteworthy celestial event, which can make it a challenge.

 

4. Almost any state campground or park north of US-10.  Find a dark state campground or parking lot without lights near a major road.  I am partial to the ORV Trailhead parking lot off of M-61 between Standish and Gladwin.  

 

Of course, my most used site is none of these.  90% or more of my observing is done from my Bortle 7 back yard.  These days I am really focusing on the moon, open clusters and double stars, so light pollution isn't really an issue.


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#439 Jared L.

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 06:15 PM

I don't know about favorite but it's the best place I've been since I've gotten back into astronomy. Crescent Lake State Airport just off Highway 58 in Oregon. There's reserve RV camping right across the street. Full hookups. It's at @ 4800 feet and the SQM read 21.98 :)

I had views of the Veil Nebula that were amazing! I could even see structure in many galaxies with my 8 inch Dob! I was under the impression that wasn't even possible. You don't need a 10 or 12 inch dob to see structure you need reaalllyyy dark Bortle 2 skies smile.gif 

I still want a bigger scope though!  Here's a couple pics with my phone on a tripod. ISO 3200 15 second exposure. 

 

CS!

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  • Sagittarius.jpg

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#440 Migwan

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:03 PM

Just like the best scope, the best dark site is the one you use the most.  Or so I would think.

 

Lightpollutionmap.info only gives mine a Class 3 SQM 21.84 and it does suffer from some brightness on the southern horizon that if not blocked, can be tough on dark adaptation.   If I don't plan on looking low to the south, I park closer to the trees on that end.   Otherwise, the truck can block most of it and be moved when I want to look low to the south.

 

Other than coyotes, deer and whippoorwills, I've never had any visitors.  No cars, ATVs or snowmobiles.    

 

And hey, it's got elevation!  A whopping 1,143'.  That's 388' more than home.  Top of the world, four shore.  AWD or 4WD is necessary if there's much snow on the ground.  There is a cell tower just a mile away.  That's got to be worth something out in the middle of a state forrest.

 

It's only 45 miles from home and most of that, via freeway, so only 40 minutes from driveway to setup.  I can get to two areas with supposed SQMs of 21.96, but both require a 2 hour drive.  I've been to both areas, once each and they are significantly darker, but as I tend to get out two or three times a month, the closer site just works better for now.  Maybe when I slow down a bit, I'll switch sites.     

 

 

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#441 Starman1

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 08:23 PM

One note: the correlation of SQM reading to Bortle Class is pure conjecture.

I've observed at sites that could be rated B4 to B1 and the SQM readings are really off compared to what I've measured.

I'd put B1 at 21.8-22.0, B2 at 21.65-21.8, B3 at 21.45-21.65, and B4 at 21.25-21.45.

SQM-L ratings might be a little different and read a tad darker.

But whoever attached those SQM readings to Bortle Classes obviously hadn't measured a lot of sites.

I was at one site that was 21.8 one night and 22.0 the next and the sky looked absolutely identical.

 

So, take any SQM correspondence with a big pinch of salt.  Just isn't real.


Edited by Starman1, 09 September 2021 - 08:24 PM.

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#442 Arcane26

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 11:02 AM

I live in Southwest Ohio and I have 2 spots I go to. Stonelick Park is an ideal spot if you don't want to drive far, and there's star parties most weekends nearest the new moon. But it's still in Cincinnati's skyglow, so if I feel like leaving the planet for a while I take the drive to Paint Creek,there's a parking lot in the middle of the lake offering a large view of the sky, always worth the drive

A very milky Way

 


Edited by Arcane26, 24 September 2021 - 06:51 PM.


#443 CCD-Freak

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 11:28 AM

My new favorite observing site is my Star Ranch Observatory.  Located under almost Bortle 1 sky (SQM 21.99) with clear horizons, paved road access, electric, water, located in a low population county (1642  residents in 900 sq miles).  As a bonus there is also a research weather station on the property that I can access for weather info.  I will be building an observatory and a "barndominium" on the site very soon.  Searched for over 3 years to find it but I am very happy with the site. 

 

At SRO-2.JPG

 

My own little dark corner of the universe. (^8


Edited by CCD-Freak, 24 September 2021 - 11:32 AM.

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#444 Starman1

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Posted 24 September 2021 - 01:53 PM

The girl he's singing about is your dark site:

https://www.youtube....h?v=yw04QD1LaB0




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