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Favorite Viewing Sites

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#101 TL2101


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Posted 17 June 2012 - 03:52 PM

This is a view from our astronomy clubs observing site. Lucky for me it's only 15 miles from my house. Elevation is 3,849' on top of Mt. Diablo and took this shot looking over Suisun Bay. Taken last night before the clouds began to clear for a night of observing.

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#102 Gvs


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Posted 27 June 2012 - 10:52 AM

Altitude gives you better contrast no doubt about it!

Posted Image

NGC 5139 globular cluster.
30 seconds
3200 ISO
Canon Rebel Ti2 18Megapixel.
6/6/2011 Cochabamba, Bolivia.
No post processing
Lat -17.42461,
Lon -65.91786
Alt 3340 meters (10958 ft ~ 2 miles high).

We are in the process of installing a set of 4 - 8 telescopes in Bolivia 4 miles high to be hooked up through the Internet for remote viewing.
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#103 stevew


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Posted 29 July 2012 - 04:56 PM

Another shot of my favorite site.
Manning Park B.C. I was there two weeks ago, and I am so impressed with the viewing conditions every time I go.


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#104 Orionis91


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Posted 16 August 2012 - 05:36 PM

I just got back from my vacation in PA, as you can guess, the goal was to see the sky from Cherry Spring State Park, but the weather and other circumstances made it so I never got to see the sky from Cherry Springs, but from my cabin I did, and the sky is just like nothing I had ever seen before!
I just can only hope my next time there that I get more then ONE clear night!

#105 festa_freak


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Posted 24 August 2012 - 09:36 AM

Wow! Some of those areas are good for looking ANY time of day. I'm a prarie boy and I head out of my city about 20 min onto a dead end farmers road and set up my binoculars there. I just saw the milky way for the first time last weekend (I've probly seen it before but this time I was 'looking' for it)!

I think I can see the lagoon nebula or whichever is easier to see in saggitarius from my position. I could go further from house but it's a good spot with barely any traffic.

Edit: I didn't swear but changed my first expression. Also, the milky way was visible from SW to NE all the way!

#106 krp


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Posted 24 August 2012 - 09:39 PM

Last weekend I went to Green River, which is probably the darkest and best viewing site in northern Illinois.
I have heard there is a star party here every year:
Here's some more info I found after going there. There are 10 different parking lots that are all numbered. So you don't have to every worry about it being too crowded. A lot of people like lot 2, but I set up in lot 6. The view was more unobstructed even though there were a couple lights in the distance. Plus I felt a little safer since I could see any cars before they approached (There were about 5 all night driving down Pump Factory Road). I saw another astronomer and a camper set up by the office (the biggest lot). I do recommend getting there a little before sunset just so you'll know your way around and choose the best spot to setup. As far as I know, you can camp in any lot, with no fees or registration. I tried sleeping in my car, but got too cold. The views were amazing, I could see a lot of detail in the milky way, the lagoon nebula, double cluster, andromeda all with the naked eye. I saw a couple dozen meteors, even though the Perseid meteor shower was well past its peak. The best directions to look are south and west. Also keep in mind since it's a state wildlife management area, you will hear spooky animal sounds, and gunshots in the morning from the hunters. Here's a map I made showing the different parking areas.
Posted Image
And a picture of the milky way looking down Pump Factory Road, by lot 6.
Posted Image
Galaxy Road by kevin-palmer, on Flickr
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#107 Blaise



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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:06 AM

Awesome pictures guys.

#108 bigbinoman


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Posted 25 September 2012 - 08:21 PM

Green River Wildlife Preserve is my favorite IL. dark sky site also. When in FL I like Harmony and a remote site in Dade County. 3 miles of dirt road and farms to get there. Known as FOO (Farr Out Observatory) for the man who owns the land and invites local astronomers out on new moon weekends.

#109 contrailmaker


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Posted 03 October 2012 - 03:03 PM

For dark skies that would be right outside the door of my cabin in the Arizona White Mountains. It's bordered by state parks on one side and the hughe Apache reservation on the other. Pretty darned close to the darkest skies I've ever seen. For high power planetary observation I have seen none better than the steady skies over the deserts of southern Arizona.


#110 SubaruB4



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:29 PM

New here but looking for members in the Connecticut area, I'm here in Fairfield county.

#111 condensermike


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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:31 AM

once went camping in maine. best stars i have every seen.

#112 efedut



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Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:10 PM

Anyone in south central Alberta have a favorite viewing site that offers good mix or drive time and clear skies? Anyone close to Calgary want to head out to a dark site? PM me!

In Southern Alberta it would be Cypress Hills and Writing-on-the-Stone Provincial Parks. Waterton National Park is also very good. Jasper is splendid but not for the summer stargazing: too up North, it never gets really dark at night time.

#113 Sean Wood

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:23 PM

My favorite spot locally here in North Carolina, Mount Airy being my home area, is on the Blue Ridge Parkway...36.513728, -80.938791... a small field that is away from EVERYTHING you do have a very slight sky glow "dome" from the Mount Airy/Winston Salem area, Which is fairly common for this area but mostly hidden by the surrounding trees on the horizon. NO street lights anywhere near by and it is the darkest skies I've seen in the area. There's only a small area to pull off of the road due to the way a slight hill transition works out, But this actually helps if there is on coming traffic, It shields you. Oddly enough being in the south you'd be surprised how late people are on the parkway and not necessarily stargazing... ha ha ha. The one truly ODD feature of note for this site.. no matter what time of year and how late I stay there is always country/blue grass music playing in the distance. Not loud mind you, pretty faint actually, but you can always hear it.

Google maps link... http://goo.gl/maps/o9UE1

#114 Starman1


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Posted 08 December 2012 - 04:04 PM

Hi Folks: Post your favorite viewing sites to share with others, right here!

Lake Sonoma - outside Healdsburg, CA - about an hour north of San Francisco.

Just a little ways north of there--at the Galbreath Wildlands Preserve, I measured a sky about a half magnitude darker than Lake Sonoma, and it's only about a half hour farther. I think you go from a Green Zone to a Blue Zone in that extra bit of driving.
That does look like a pleasant site, though.
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#115 aberrs



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Posted 09 December 2012 - 05:36 PM

From CT also. Litchfield county, where it is lovely and dark....


#116 Feidb



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Posted 09 December 2012 - 06:23 PM

My favorite close site to Las Vegas is Redstone Picnic Area on the north shore of Lake Mead, Nevada. Maybe not the darkest, but close and dark enough. During the summer, the Lee Canyon weather station sometimes, though it is right next to the road going up to the ski area. We used to go to a place further up the road called Sawmill Trailhead, but one time a park ranger had a bit too much caffeine, someone smarted off to her, things got a bit heavy and that site is now off limits.

As for really dark sites, for me, it's either Cathedral Gorge State Park in central-eastern Nevada or Furnace Creek in Death Valley. Two extremes of altitude, but both places have been really good to me. I don't like to venture any further than either place as I don't trust my truck much past that anymore

When I lived in Spain near Madrid, my back yard in Eurovillas was pretty decent once I went around the neighborhood and popped the circuit breakers in all the street lights. That was from the early 70's, jump to mid to late 80's. Now it's severely light polluted from what I've heard. Too bad.

#117 ChrisBeere


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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:33 PM

Another shot of my favorite site.
Manning Park B.C. I was there two weeks ago, and I am so impressed with the viewing conditions every time I go.


That looks beautiful

#118 ChrisBeere


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Posted 11 December 2012 - 05:59 PM

When I look at skies from the McDonalds observatory and compare them to Sajama, there is no comparison. We can see two orders of magnitude more at the Sajama site.

This is simply not true. Altitude will only affect the extinction coefficient.

The Davis mountains have skies with a sky background of the theoretical limit.

Hard scientific facts here :


I have been to class 1 sites in the Atacama and Kalahari deserts and can attest to this first hand.

#119 Meadeball



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Posted 16 December 2012 - 06:54 AM

You guys out West have some INCREDIBLE viewing sites ... I'll echo others and say I'd give anything for those views, day OR night! Wow.

Back East we don't have quite the vistas, but our sunsets are pretty. Here are two views looking west and east at Amelia Wildlife Management Area, about 20 miles west of my home in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, and about as near as you can be to the city with decently dark skies.

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#120 notoriousmr


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Posted 27 December 2012 - 05:14 PM

Awesome thread thanks:)

#121 theritz



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Posted 30 December 2012 - 02:48 PM

My favorite site is in Germany (I live in the Netherlands which is the most light polluted piece of planet you can think of), south of Hamburg. It's a 5 hour drive so we book a long weekend there and go in a group. Last year we had an average SQM of 21.8 with a high of 21.93. Amazing...

Posted Image

The field you see is in the middle of a small town of 15 but usually there's only 5 people present. Some crazy person has thought it up to switch on a light. Here. On one of the darkest places in Europe.
Only disadvantage of the place: it's rather far up north.

Closer to home, a 35 minute drive, is only one spot where I can go: a moor to the east of where I live. The SQM touches 21 but that's it. There's domes around but the south is pretty good (dark clouds!) because it's a nature reserve there. The attached picture shows the surroundings. We have no real wildlife so the only animals that can give you trouble there is in spring when the wild boars have their young.

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#122 jpcannavo



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Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:20 AM

Den Mama:

I think this is a great idea of a thread along lines suggested above. It would be a particular benefit for travelers. Nearly 4 million people visit Yellowstone/Grand Teton every year and I've often thought of putting together a list of sites here that I've found rewarding over the years.


Dark skies.


The credit goes to member jpcannavo for the suggestion! :bow:

How amazing to see this thread alive and well after being away from these forums and ama ast for nearly 2 years! Ones first child, does shake things up a bit though!
As is turns out I may be taking a new job at The Univ of New Mexico, and moving away from NYC, the worst place in the country to be an amateur astronomer. Now clearly NM has lots of Black skies. But I have two questions:
1) What are some user friendly but still Very Dark (black to grey zones) within an hour or two of Albuequerque.
2) How is seeing? Are steady skies rare, occasional or common? NYC is aweful, as well, in this regard. Star images are always bloated - seeing an Airy Disk in anything larger than 50mm scope is unusual!

#123 bunyon


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Posted 17 January 2013 - 04:20 PM

Not a lot to add but a lot to second. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, so long as you aren't close to a city, almost any pullout makes for a good site.

But I've yet to see a dark site in the east that comes close to those in the west. A lot of Utah mentions up above but I didn't see Natural Bridges mentioned, which is also excellent. The park does a good job promoting dark skies and in two weeks I spent there, the campers kept dark. It's fantastically dark down in the park.

But every time I've observed in southern Utah I've been blown away. Capitol Reef, Bridges, or just driving out of town 45 minutes and pulling over. There are some seriously dark skies out there. And beautiful scenery.

#124 petrus45


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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:48 PM

Any suggestions for Ohio/Kentucky area? The closest really dark site seems to be in Monongahela Nat'l Forest in WV....

#125 quantumphysicist


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Posted 15 February 2013 - 02:58 AM

I have two favorite viewing sites. My absolute favorite of the two has to be In the Valles Caldera right outside of Los Alamos, NM. There is a road and right after you go over the rim into the caldera you can get off and get in the grass. High altitude, no light pollution, and often clear nights especially in the summer. Absolutely amazing views.

coordinates for Google Maps: 35.851671,-106.455162

Now that I live in florida my favorite location I have seen so far is the Shell Mound just north of Cedar Key. Bortle scale 2. Seeing is usually not that good due to the low altitude and humidity I could see more in los alamos but compared to whereI live it is amazing in comparison. It even has a bathroom and you can set up on an observation deck in the middle of the marsh with no trees surrounding you.

Coordinates in Google maps: 29.206825, -83.068831

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