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Do you observe alone at remote locations?

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#1 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 01:04 AM

How reliable is your car? How sure are you that you won't drain the battery or something? With the cold weather, you need to be sure.

 

What backup supplies do you bring?

I think it is well worth bringing a passenger even if they don't contribute gas money or optics. Maybe instead of selling my excess scopes, I'll keep them for my passengers to use so we don't have a small line.



#2 leonidman63

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 01:24 AM

I use an 18 amp/hr separate battery for an electric wheel chair as a power source, plus start my car and let it idle 15 minutes each hour if it's really cold. I also carry the standard cell phone, a cold weather sleeping bag, flare gun, hatchet (for firewood), fire starter blocks, mittens with pockets for hand warmers and enough insulated clothing to make me waddle. I don't get around like I used to and I froze my butt off in Germany for two winters and I don't aim to be cold again if I can help it. :grin:



#3 panhard

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 02:02 AM

Yes I have observed alone at remote sites, but not so remote that you couldn't walk out in 2 hours or so. These days remote sites are out for me due to my weak legs. I wouldn't go to those sites in cold weather though.



#4 havasman

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 02:03 AM

Yes.

When lucky there are no others around. The vehicle works. No worries there. It's the people that are the PITA. Nothing out there scares me at all. Rarely I take somebody along but when I do it's for observing. Folks I take are observers and though they may be good company that's not why they're invited.

Me, the good dog and the big scope out in the dark - that's the way I like it.

Tomorrow night's dark and cold out in the Oklahoma boonies and here we come. Y'all gotta work Friday so get some sleep, please.



#5 dr.who

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 02:10 AM

Yes. But I let someone know where I will be and when to call someone if I haven't checked in. I also have a kit in the car if needed.

You know what is worse than being cold and miserable? Being hot and miserable. I can put clothes on when it's cold to get warm. I will get arrested if I take too many clothes off to get cool. Plus I have two skin colors, fish belly white and lobster red. Give me 10 below and good clothes over 110 in the shade any day of the week! Dry heat my eyeballs! :lol:

#6 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 05:22 AM

Well semi-remote.....

 

Away from city lights for about a 20 minute drive and about 5.2 mag skies which is worlds better than my light polluted backyard! 



#7 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 05:33 AM

Of course I observe alone at remote locations. What else?

 

My car is pretty reliable; it hasn't broken down on the road yet, to the point where it can't drive. But when driving back from stargazing some years ago, I did hit a large piece of concrete that had fallen on the road, causing both a front tire and a back tire to blow out. Since then, I've made sure to carry a cell phone when stargazing. Of course at most really remote locations a cell phone won't work. But there are few places in the Eastern U.S. where you can't walk to a populated place in a few hours.

 

I don't carry any backup supplies. You can live fine without water for at least 24 hours, and much more in cold weather. And you can live fine for weeks without food.

 

As for clothing, if I'm wearing enough to keep me warm while stargazing, it will also keep me plenty warm overnight inside my car if the car does happen to break down.

 

I'm not particularly worried about strange humans or any other kind of animal.



#8 JoeR

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 07:25 AM

I only observe in remote sites and prefer to do it alone. The car is never a problem, I lease a new vehicle to ensure no breakdowns. I only have to focus on staying awake for the drive home, which for dark sites will be as late as 4am. One one occasion there was a large predator animal attacking its prey in the woods behind me that gave me a little startle. Other than that I've never been concerned about safety. I don't get cellular service at the really remote sites but that's never been an issue for me.



#9 Jim4321

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 08:51 AM

If I'm observing that means that I'm driving my camper, which is my 'scope hauler.  It's 10 years old, but the '06 Chevy Silverado chassis under it has been totally reliable for the 65,000 miles I've driven it.  Only one minor mechanical problem in that time, of the non-stranding variety.  I do make an effort to keep a good battery in it, and that stays on a topping charger when parked at home.  I also carry a jump start battery, mostly for the dew heater.  If there's anything at all left in the engine battery, I can start the generator, which will slowly charge the engine battery.  Or I can cross-link the house batteries to the starting system.  I always have food & water & canned drinks on board. 

 

Everywhere that I observe has cell service, even tho' I may have to walk around the mountaintop a bit at one place to hit a tower.

 

The worst animal 'scare' I've had was one morning at the club's observatory site, after overnighting following a stargaze.   I got out of the camper with coffee cup & camera to watch the sunrise, as a rather large black bull came around the far end of the building.  He'd gotten loose from the adjoining farm.  I promptly retreated back into the camper and watched sunrise thru the window.  No people scares worth mentioning, yet.  

 

Jim H.



#10 rocco13

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 10:25 AM

Not alone by choice. However there was a time or two when my observing buddy cancelled at the last minute, either after I was already on the road or I had just loaded up and decided to go anyway.

 

Here in south-central Arizona the cold doesn't really come into play the way it does in other places, although it can and does get cold enough to affect one's enjoyment if not fully prepared. A few years ago I had to cut short my Messier Marathon because I was shivering so much that I couldn't operate the focuser on my C8!

 

The four-legged creatures do not bother nor scare me...it's the two-legged ones. The location we used to frequent is about 60-70 miles form the border, across virtually uninhabited desert, and is a known corridor for smuggling both drugs and people. Seeing a vehicle coming down the dirt road at 2 in the morning with its lights off is quite unnerving. Others who have used this particular site have been warned off by Border Patrol agents and other local LE officers. It is for this reason that I purchased a Glock and take it with me when I go out into the remote desert.

 

I also always take plenty of water, spare jacket/coat, granola bars, etc, tool kit, power pack (even though I use a bare-bones dob). Oh, and don't forget the toilet paper.



#11 Rick Woods

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 10:51 AM

Of course I observe alone at remote locations. What else?

 

My car is pretty reliable; it hasn't broken down on the road yet, to the point where it can't drive. But when driving back from stargazing some years ago, I did hit a large piece of concrete that had fallen on the road, causing both a front tire and a back tire to blow out. Since then, I've made sure to carry a cell phone when stargazing. Of course at most really remote locations a cell phone won't work. But there are few places in the Eastern U.S. where you can't walk to a populated place in a few hours.

 

I don't carry any backup supplies. You can live fine without water for at least 24 hours, and much more in cold weather. And you can live fine for weeks without food.

 

As for clothing, if I'm wearing enough to keep me warm while stargazing, it will also keep me plenty warm overnight inside my car if the car does happen to break down.

 

I'm not particularly worried about strange humans or any other kind of animal.

 

What else? Well, there's always observing with company at remote locations.

 

And you carry no backup supplies? Extremely unwise. Sure, maybe you can live without water for 24 hours, but that's no reason to do so. And, if you're remote and injured, you could be out there for a lot longer than 24 hours.

I understood you to be a backpacker and outdoorsman. This is elementary wisdom for outdoor adventure of any sort. Maybe it's only taken seriously out here in the west, I don't know.



#12 csrlice12

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 10:53 AM

For the most part, I go to the clubs dark site (blue zone)...sometimes I'm alone, sometimes not.  I prefer alone.  I take my cell, the site itself is sketchy for cell phones, but a two minute walk and you get a signal.  The site also has a powered warming hut.  My excursions to nowhereville (just going anywheres)are usually done in warmer weather.



#13 moabyte

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 11:04 AM

With sincerest apologies to George Thorogood et al:

 

I view alone, yeah


With nobody else


I view alone, yeah


With nobody else


You know when I view alone


I prefer to be by myself

 

Every morning just before breakfast


I don't want no coffee or tea


Just me and my good buddy Dobson


That's all I ever need


'Cause I view alone, yeah


With nobody else


Yeah, you know when I view alone


I prefer to be by myself

 

The other night I lay sleeping


And I woke in a terrible plight


So I called up my pal Al Nagler


And his partner 7mm DeLite


And we viewed alone, yeah


With nobody else


Yeah, you know when I view alone


I prefer to be by myself

 

The other day I got invited to a star party


But I stayed home instead


Just me and my pal Sky Watcher


And his filters Green and Red


And we viewed alone


Yeah, with nobody else


Yeah, you know when I view alone


I prefer to be by myself

 

Yeah, my whole family done give up on me


And it makes me feel oh so blue


The only one who will hang out with me


Is my dear Old Tele Vue


And we view alone, yeah


With nobody else


Yeah, you know when I view alone


I prefer to be by myself


Edited by moabyte, 12 November 2015 - 11:08 AM.


#14 aatt

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 11:09 AM

Yes-no problem with it, other than advancing age and high cholesterol. I always take extra water, food (canned or packaged)my UV water sterilizer, batteries, adequate clothing, first aid kit, manual phone charger, extra flashlights. machete, matches/lighter and a metal baseball bat for aberrant wildlife (human or otherwise). My car is a Honda and it just goes. I suppose at some point it may not go and that will be a problem hence the extra stuff. My wife knows where I will be too and if I don't communicate with her by such and such a time she will call the authorities.Not afraid to be alone out there at all. The stars are the best company I can think of, even though they are high maintenance because they demand so much attention from me.



#15 izar187

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 11:17 AM

Remote darkness and solitude are two of the better things in life.



#16 mountain monk

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 12:11 PM

Yes, though less often now than I used to. It's quite a hassle in winter since I am already snowed in at the cabin, but I still do it--rarely. But then my cabin is what most people would consider remote! My car is always prepared for extreme winter, even when not observing--battery charger, extra clothes, warm sleeping bag, water, food, a small camping stove and pot (to cook and to melt more water), and a cellphone and iPad (that work most of the time). The back of my SUV has thick pads covered with a monster Cabelas sleeping bag and there is an additional sleeping bag that is good to 20 below. My wife always knows where I am; if she is not here, then I let the rangers know where I am. In winter the grizzlies are in their dens, the wolves never bother anyone, and the cougars are concentrated at lower elevations near the deer or at very high elevations with the mountain sheep, none of which are around me. I'm not worried about any of them. Weirdos showing up? Chances are near zero and I am always armed when remote, if only for making noise. At times when it has been grimly cold, below zero, I have carried a big propane tank with radiant heater--great for warming up. Wear dark glasses. I have blue/green skies at home, so I will go remote only for darker--gray or black zone--skies, and they are only a half hour to an hour and a half away, depending on the season. I too love darkness and solitude. Ninety-nine percent of my observing is done alone. I believe that most of our fears about darkness and danger are irrational and can be overcome by practice and preparation. All said about NW Wyoming. Since I hate jungles, I wouldn't do it in the Everglades. Know your environment.

Dark skies.

Jack

#17 Greyhaven

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 12:28 PM

When I was a few years younger, I spent many nights alone in the Rangeley Lake area in western Maine never felt endangered  but now after having 3 heart attacks and now suffering sudden attacks of vertigo which can leave me unable to get off the ground once falling down; the back yard offers me enough danger and challenge. A man has to know his limits.

 

Grey



#18 Nile

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 12:54 PM

Have a smartphone with you with some additional battery in case you are lost and need more juice. Even if you don't have a phone signal, 911 works. You may not be able to talk, but your GPS location can be traingulated and multiple calls will probably get some help. (DISCLAIMER: I have never tried 911 without signal, but have heard so many times. So, if that is not correct, please let me know.)



#19 Tom Polakis

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 12:55 PM


 

The four-legged creatures do not bother nor scare me...it's the two-legged ones. The location we used to frequent is about 60-70 miles form the border, across virtually uninhabited desert, and is a known corridor for smuggling both drugs and people. Seeing a vehicle coming down the dirt road at 2 in the morning with its lights off is quite unnerving. Others who have used this particular site have been warned off by Border Patrol agents and other local LE officers. It is for this reason that I purchased a Glock and take it with me when I go out into the remote desert.

 

I also always take plenty of water, spare jacket/coat, granola bars, etc, tool kit, power pack (even though I use a bare-bones dob). Oh, and don't forget the toilet paper.

 

I've observed at this site on hundreds of nights and thousands of hours since the mid 1980's.  I set up a couple hundred feet away from the road, which on rare occasions has had cars and trucks drive by with lights turned off.  Even if they could see me, they want nothing to do with us, so I feel fine observing alone unarmed.  I suppose that observing alone at a remote site is a matter of personal comfort.  If it makes you uneasy worrying about wild animals and people, then you probably shouldn't do it.

 

Tom


Edited by Tom Polakis, 12 November 2015 - 03:21 PM.


#20 Feidb

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 03:33 PM

I never observe alone. Always with a buddy. I've stated my reasons multiple times in other threads.



#21 bumm

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 04:40 PM

I always observe alone.  I can be in a blue zone 7 miles south of my little Iowa town, so I don't feel that's particularly "remote."  About a 10 minute drive from my house.  If there's a problem, it's that I go to a "minimum maintenance - enter at your own risk" road.  Sometimes it can be impassibly muddy or snowy, so it's worth a quick look in the daytime before I plan to head down with my stuff.  I also don't feel threatened by either animals or people here, but I'm not starry eyed naive, so I have a collapsible club thing along.  I have plenty of firearms, but have never taken one because you can only use such things if your life is in danger...  I couldn't shoot a drunken punk who simply wants to vandalize my nerd equipment.  Depending on societal evolution and the prevalence of meth "labs," I can keep my options open on the firearm thing.

                                                                           Marty



#22 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 04:46 PM

What else? Well, there's always observing with company at remote locations.


I do enjoy observing with other people from time to time. But for me, much of the joy of stargazing comes from solitude. Especially at remote locations. If there's another person there, you're halfway toward being in a city.
 

And you carry no backup supplies? Extremely unwise. Sure, maybe you can live without water for 24 hours, but that's no reason to do so. And, if you're remote and injured, you could be out there for a lot longer than 24 hours.
I understood you to be a backpacker and outdoorsman. This is elementary wisdom for outdoor adventure of any sort. Maybe it's only taken seriously out here in the west, I don't know.


West and East are indeed different. Water is a total non-issue here; you're never more than 1,000 feet from a stream. Sure, there's a tiny chance that the water is contaminated -- but it will still keep you from getting thirsty, let alone dangerously dehydrated.

 

In the desert in the West, I do indeed carry water in my car when I go on a remote road. More so if I'm just driving through during the day than when stargazing, since you need much more water during the day than at night.

 

But the fact is that there are no truly remote roads in the East. I can't think of anywhere from Maine to Florida where there wouldn't likely be someone else driving by in the next 24 hours. Being hungry for 24 hours is just a minor annoyance, and as I said before, I'm already wearing what are effectively emergency clothes when I'm stargazing.

 

Hiking is a totally different story; there I do indeed always carry backup supplies.



#23 clearwaterdave

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 07:07 PM

I observe alone all the time from a remote site.,,my yard.,,not to nervous about critters.,,but a mile down the road there is a couple.,,they are both retired postal workers,,O+O

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#24 duck2k

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 08:26 PM

Generally I do not practice observing alone in remote areas.

The area where our star parties are, you need more than one person. If something goes wrong with your car, and there is no cell phone services. While desert viewing is beautiful, keep in mind that there are potential dangers with two footed wild life (human and drug smugglers and cartel thugs), not so much animal wild life - don't step on a rattle snake! I still pack a 9 mm, even when I go to star parties out in the desert.

When I am in CO, I have parents and relatives that live in remote areas where the skies are perfect (on their properties). This is my only exception to observing alone. :sct:

Edited by duck2k, 12 November 2015 - 08:30 PM.


#25 Laika

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 09:37 PM

I will go to my club's dark site alone, there is a warm up room, and lately there is a cell signal. I drive an old car but keep good tires and a decent battery in it. Yea there's wild life and could be even dangerous 2 leg type but when I was younger I did a lot of solo camping so my mind is conditioned for it.

Edited by Laika, 12 November 2015 - 09:38 PM.



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