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Values from Observing Spreadsheet (long)

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#1 stevecoe

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Posted 01 November 2016 - 07:06 PM

Observing Spreadsheet
By Steve Coe

 

I am providing this information in the hopes that some folks will start to keep notes about where and how they observed the sky.  I have observations from over 1000 nights and I do hope you will start your note taking after reading about mine.   I keep an Excel spreadsheet with observing site, telescope used, seeing rating, transparency rating and who else was there observing from my club.

 

The first time I took notes while observing was in February 1979.  Helen and Richard Lines had a 16 inch f/8 Newtonian and had invited several folks up to Mayer, Arizona for a view.  I just had to write down what I saw that night and I have never stopped from there.  So, I have notes from the late 1970's to this month. 

 

It is a joy to re-read and re-memeber what I saw, who was there and what fun we had.  This document will provide information about the number of times I have observed at a variety of places.  Because I have lived in Arizona for 40 years now, most of the places will be there.  But, I have been fortunate enough to travel to some fascinating locations to use telescopes and view the sky.  The beginning of this document wil cover the places I have seen in alphabetical order by what I called them.  The second half of the document with cover the rating for seeing and transparency I have provided over the years.  Ten is the best rating and zero is the worst.  Here we go:

 

Antennas--195 nights.  The Saguaro Astronomy Club (SAC) members have been using this spot for over 10 years now.  David Frederickson, Wayne and I found by just being bull-headed enough to take every exit off the freeway (I-10) until we rolled into this one.  This site is 100 miles from the lights of Phoenix and 30 miles from the town of Quartzsite.  Nice and dark, easy to get to.  Weather is often good when the temperature in the mountains of northern Arizona are really cold.  By my measure.

 

Arizona City--15 nights.  Between Phoenix and Tucson.  This is a location that used to be the place for the All-Arizona Messier Marathon.

 

Buckeye--68 nights.  An easy place to get to about 50 miles from Phoenix.  Not truly dark, but good for a night when the Moon is rising at midnight.

 

Bushnell Tanks--4 nights.  When my first telescope had arrived and my roommate and I set it up in the backyard and got a look at a few things (Moon, Jupiter and maybe a cluster or two).  Now it was ready for a trip to dark skies, this location is were I went.  It is on the way to Payson, about 50 miles out of town.  I remember the Sun going down, the stars coming out and we were lost.  After a while the "Oh yea, THAT is Scorpius" rang out and we started finding things to view.  Of course, nowadays it is too well lit to see much.

 

Caloudra, Queensland, Australia--5 nights.  In 1986 I used Halley's Comet to get off work for a week and travel to Australia for a better look.  My Australian buddy, Jim Barclay, was nice enough to put us up for a week and we had a grand time.  Views of the Milky Way, Omega Centauri, Eta Carina, Magellanic Clouds and like that were amazing.  Don't pass up a chance to see southern skies.

 

Camp 613--26 nights.  This is a wonderful observing site 100 miles from the lights of Phoenix and far up in the mountains at 7000 feet.  When it is good, this location is spectacular.  The name "613" is the mile marker for the turn off.

 

MMT--1 night.  My first trip to truly dark skies was here.  It is on the road up to the MMT about 60 miles south of Tucson.  We had a great night, I got my first great view of Omega Centauri and like that.  We collapsed into the sleeping bags and woke up to a storm brewing.  We tore down quickly and still remember that excellent night.

 

Cherry Road--53 nights.  This is short trip site, about 50 miles from the lights of Phoenix on the freeway toward Flagstaff.  Not a great site, but good enough for a night with an early moon rise.

 

Dugas Road--50 nights.  This is the turnoff 50 miles north of Phoenix on I-17, so we used it for a while until the construction on the north side of Phoenix lit it up too much.  Before that, I do have some nice nights here.

 

Ellesmere, Queensland, Australia--8 nights.  In 2005 I was working on a book on Nebulae.  Therefore, I could write off an airplane ride to Australia on my taxes.  So, Jim and Lynn Barclay were nice enough to put up with me for a week or so and I had some very good nights looking at glowing gas clouds in southern skies.  Did I mention don't pass up a chance to view southern skies?

 

Fessler's Ranch--12 nights.  When the Saguaro Astronomy Club was just getting started George Fessler invited us up to his ranch for some observing sessions.  The lights of Phoenix caught up with and illuminated the site and we eventually moved up to Dugas Road.  But it was a great location for a short night.

 

Flatiron--26 nights.  I found this one.  When Buckeye got to lit up we searched about for a somewhat darker place and this fit the bill.  SAC used it for a while until the folks who owned the property wanted to start building houses.

 

Fredericksen's Meadow--81 nights.  This is the spot we started to use when the dirt road up to Camp 613 got washed out.  When it is good, it is excellent.  The good news is that this meadow is easy for large vehicles to get to, the bad news is that means often there are visitors there.  When you are dark adapted it is fascinating how bright a double mantle Coleman lantern appears from 200 feet or so.  But, they have generally been nice and we have had some terrific observing sessions from this location about 40 miles from Flagstaff and 100 miles from Phoenix.

 

Lowell Observatory--4 nights.  I have been fortunate enough to view with the 24 inch Clark refractor on 4 nights and they are memorable.  When Mars is close to Earth, this telescope will provide excellent views of the detail on the Red Planet.  Also, bright deep sky objects can be seen to great advantage since the observatory is above the lights of Flagstaff.  I have wonderful memories of viewing globulars such as M 15 and the Ring Nebula with this telescope.

 

Moon Valley Observatory--115 nights.  This was the observatory in my backyard in Phoenix.  Yes, the sky was quite light polluted, there was no Milky Way, but I got lots of views of the Moon, planets and multiple stars with the 7 inch Maksutov in that roll off roof.  If you get a chance to build a home for a scope, do it.  You will use the telescope often.

 

New Mexico Astronomy Village--13 nights.  Tom and Jeannie Clark bought propery 30 miles north of Deming, New Mexico and 30 miles south of Silver City.  It is quite dark and a very enjoyable place from which to observe.  I like them, honest I do, and I would go and visit anyway....but, they have a 42 inch Newtonian under a dome in the backyard.  You get the picture.

 

Oregon Star Party--20 nights.  This is my favorite big star party.  It happens in August when it is cloudy and rainy in the Southwest and so for me it is a great place to travel.  Lots of fun folks, good food and dark skies.  They even let me be a speaker one year, and no one threw anything during the talk.

 

Salome airstrip--11 nights.  The present location of the All-Arizona Messier Marathon and in autumn, the All-Arizona Star Party.  Both are populated by lots of observers and it is a fun weekend.

 

Sentinel--98 nights.  Far in the south of Arizona, about 30 miles from the little town of Gila Bend.  For many years it was a great place to go, far from the lights and a nice flat spot in the desert.  I have many great observations from this location.  But, the drug runners started using this area as a place to enter the US and we had to give it up for safety.

 

Table Mesa--21 nights.  On a night when you have to work the next day, this is a good spot.  Only 30 miles or so north of Phoenix.  It is not dark, but it is better than my backyard was and it is easy to get to.

 

Texas Star Party--6 nights.  Dark spot that is a gathering place for lots of deep sky observers.  


Seeing ratings

0--one night.  Totally clouded out, we watched Star Trek re-runs in the RV.

1--zero nights. 

2--2 nights. 

3--15 nights.  On most of these evenings something special was happening and I was trying to see the lunar eclipse or whatever through holes in clouds.

4--102 nights.  The sky might be clear, but things are really dancing around, even at low power.

5--210 nights.  The beginnings of being able to see some detail.

6--1093 nights.  Obviously, the usual in Arizona seeing.  Things are steady at low powers and start to break up as you get to 250X or 300X.

7--218 nights.  Now we are getting to good seeing.  There is plenty of detail to see at 200X or so.

8--65 nights.  There is excellent detail on the Moon or planets, double stars are easily split and 300X becomes truly useful.  You are answering the question "how good is my telescope" at this type of seeing.

9--7 nights.  These are memorable nights.  Break out that really high power eyepiece that is gathering dust in the eyepiece box and see what 400X will provide.  You see how rare are these nights.

10--zero nights.  I have never had a night this good, but I would like to.


Transparency ratings

0--3 nights.  Why was I out with a telescope?  I can't answer that.

1--zero nights.

2--10 nights.  All in the backyard observatory.

3--12 nights.  These are the kind of nights where something special is happening and you are peaking through the clouds trying to see it.  For one of these nights that was a lunar occultation of Antares.  I got a minute or so just at the right time when Antares winked out.  Lucky me.

4--120 nights.  Pretty blurry, this is the kind of night were you keep looking up at the clouds hoping for an opening.

5--105 nights.  Same as rating 4, except of few more holes in the clouds.

6--263 nights.  Now we are getting somewhere.  It is a pretty clear night and you can see some quite faint stars and the bright ones stand out.

7--317 nights.  Obviously, the rating that happens the most often.  The sky is clear, except near the horizon and there is lots of Milky Way to see.

8--165 nights.  Now we are getting to memorable nights.  The Milky Way is wide and bright.  An excellent amount of detail to see in binoculars or a telescope.

9--37 nights.  Lots of faint stars and the Milky Way is bright, large and detailed.  The view in a telescope shows a dark background and the detail in any deep sky object is fantastic.

10--11 nights.  In 40 years, these don't happen often, but they are fantastic.  The Milky Way is like you rarely see it.  The sky is dark and contrasty right down to the horizon.

 

My first telescope, a Meade 8" f/6 Newtonian:

 

FourPeaks_8inch (Medium).jpg



#2 AndrewXnn

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Posted 01 November 2016 - 07:38 PM

Really curious about the 9's and 10's and the better 8's.

 

Is there a discernible trend as to their location or timing?

 

Thanks for sharing!



#3 stevecoe

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 02:35 PM

Andrew;

 

All the best transparency values are at locations about 100 miles from the lights of Phoenix, Az.  There is much to see but you have to get far away from "civilization".  Also, many of my best nights are at altitudes around 6 or 7000 feet.  Get above the dust that hangs in the valleys.

 

I hope that helps;

Steve Coe



#4 Kent10

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 05:38 PM

Andrew;

 

All the best transparency values are at locations about 100 miles from the lights of Phoenix, Az.  There is much to see but you have to get far away from "civilization".  Also, many of my best nights are at altitudes around 6 or 7000 feet.  Get above the dust that hangs in the valleys.

 

I hope that helps;

Steve Coe

Like around Flagstaff?  That is where I am from :)

 

Thanks for your post.  I enjoyed reading it.  I have viewed through the Clark at Lowell a few times.  Oddly, I have never seen Mars.  The one time I was there when they were showing it, they switched to something else just as I reached the front of the line.  I asked if they would put it on Mars again and the operator said most are very disappointed in seeing Mars.  I suppose that night maybe the seeing wasn't good enough or Mars was not close enough to earth.  Or it was showing a side with not many features.  I still look forward to seeing it one of these days.  I have seen Saturn and Jupiter and got to play with the aperture stop at the end of the day when everyone else had left.



#5 stevecoe

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Posted 04 November 2016 - 06:02 PM

Kent;

 

The site we named "Fredericksen's meadow" is about 40 miles east of Flagstaff on lake Mary rd.  It is near Happy Jack.

 

Steve



#6 Kent10

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Posted 04 November 2016 - 09:01 PM

Sounds great, Steve.  I have only been observing from my backyard because it is so convenient.  It is quite dark but one of these days I want darker skies and better seeing out of my neighborhood.  I'll probably stop somewhere on my way to the Grand Canyon.  That should be very dark.



#7 TheBeardman101

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 09:40 AM

dude you're look like pablo escobar! by the way nice log, i'm just new to astronomy thing, i start it quite late in my 21 this is because in my country (Indonesia), astronomy is not a real thing and considered as a waste of time and money, my main instrument now is 10x50 bins and i just have 2 observing time and both of them is really bad night (cloudy and LP). but your logbook is really insteresting, i'm gonna start to write my observing session!



#8 hm insulators

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Posted 11 January 2017 - 11:43 AM

Thanks for sharing the details of various sites! I've done some observing from Table Mesa from time to time; it's been a while since I've been out there, though. I've got some new binoculars which I used at the most recent All-Arizona Star Party, so I'll have to take them out to Table Mesa.



#9 Ketut

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 03:34 AM

dude you're look like pablo escobar! by the way nice log, i'm just new to astronomy thing, i start it quite late in my 21 this is because in my country (Indonesia), astronomy is not a real thing and considered as a waste of time and money, my main instrument now is 10x50 bins and i just have 2 observing time and both of them is really bad night (cloudy and LP). but your logbook is really insteresting, i'm gonna start to write my observing session!

At least, you're not alone in this country :D




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