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Where to move out west for Dark Skies?

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#101 Kfrank

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Posted 18 May 2018 - 12:33 PM

The population density also depends on where in Arizona and Utah one lives . 

 

Jon

Utah has 2,763,885 as of the 2010 census while Arizona has over 7 million.



#102 Achernar

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 05:34 PM

Whatever you do, don't move to a location close to the Mexican border. That is not a safe place to be at all at night.

 

Taras



#103 Kfrank

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Posted 19 May 2018 - 06:21 PM

Whatever you do, don't move to a location close to the Mexican border. That is not a safe place to be at all at night.

 

Taras

I this from first hand knowledge or based on media coverage?

 

I suspect the problems may be far less than portrayed in TV, movies and indeed, on the news.


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#104 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 04:29 PM

Whatever you do, don't move to a location close to the Mexican border. That is not a safe place to be at all at night.

 

Taras

 

Our place in the high desert is about 4 miles from the US-Mexico border.  The place is crawling with Border Patrol Agents.  There are nearly as many agents as there are residents. 

 

It's not a safe place to be...  If you are a criminal..

 

Jon


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#105 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 05:18 PM

True enough. 

 

My wife likes Kingman and i do too. Just always seemed windy..  The mountain communities like Flagstaff and Prescott are attractive but cold in the winter.  

 

The average high in July in Kingman is 96F , the average low in January is 31F.  I guess I'm just spoiled . Our place in the high desert is at a similar altitude but somewhat cooler in the summer and just a bit warmer in the winter. 

 

One thing about Kingman is the valley is wide and hiding from the wind is not so easy.  We were at the KOA in Kingman a couple of years ago. . It was spring.  My wife opened the door to our motor home , the wind caught the door and it slammed so hard , the hinges were bent .Fortunately, a local RV shop fixed it that same afternoon for about $120. I was expecting far more .

 

i would guess there are less windy places around Kingman. To the east and north there's some wild country .  There's not much between Kingman and Seligman or Kingman and Peach Springs. 

 

And too.  Andy Devine was from Kingman.. 

 

And by San Diego standards , house prices are cheap . 

 

So,  yeah,  you've convinced me .  goodjob.gif

 

Jon

 

Kingman revisited:

 

After some private messaging with Radial195 (Chris P.), he really did convince me of the viability of Kingman as an ultimate astronomy destination.  My wife and I had a 6 day window around the new moon and we decided to spend it in the Kingman area.  It turned out that Chris and some friends from High Desert Astronomy Club were going to be spending the new moon week end at the Grand Canyon Caverns and so we decided to join them.  

 

The first day, we drove from our place in Boulevard to Kingman.  We were beat, true to forum it was windy with some dust clouds, we had decided to just hole in in the KOA for the night, regroup and head out to the dark skies the next night.  When I called Chris to tell him of our plans, he invited us to stay at his place in our motor home.  That seemed like a good idea so away we went.   We had a good visit with Chris, his wife and their dog Penny.  And I got to see Chris's observatory and the wonderful things in his garage.  I discovered the reason for his CN handle:  Radial 195.. he had machined a fully operational radial engine, 7 cylinders I think, at least a foot in diameter, probably closer to 18 inches. We had a dinner of fish and chips at the local club house.. All down home. After a bit we went to bed.  

 

Chris lives in a small subdivision about 20 miles north of Kingman.  I woke up about midnight and took the opportunity to use my SQM-L to measure the sky glow.  

 

The Zenith was consistently 21.55 mpsas and at 45 degrees it was between 21.45-21.50 depending on the direction.  I was pretty impressed.  

 

The next day, we drove on out to the Grand Canyon Caverns.  It's a tourist stop on the old 66, probably was in it's hay day in the 1950s and 1960s before the I-40 was built but it's still quite active.  The campground is about a mile from the highway, near the restaurant and the caverns themselves.  There were a few other campers but their lights were not bothersome. 

 

We spent two night there, the skies measured 21.82 directly overheard, somewhat less towards the west. Relatively small light domes were visible from Kingman, Las Vegas and Phoenix.  Phoenix is 150 miles, Las Vegas is 110 miles. I figure when I am seeing light domes that are over 100 miles away, the skies are quite dark.  

 

I had a good time, I had my 12.5 inch and my 4 inch TeleVue,  Chris was doing astro-photography.  Doug had a 20 inch Obsession and was working on a galaxy cluster certificate, his dad Moe had a 130 mm StellarVue and Doug was helping his dad.  Craig was also there. The first night, he was helping Chris sort out his A-P stuff and spending time with the rest of us, the next night, he brought a Orion CF 80mm triplet.  I was impressed with both the views and just the compact nature. These are good people. 

 

Omega Centauri was never more than about 7 degrees above the horizon but the skies were dark near the horizon and both Doug's 20 inch and my 12.5 inch got some very nice views.  

 

I think the most impressive view was simply the naked eye view of the Milky Way.  The second night, I just sat in my chair, looking at the naked eye view.  The altitude of the Caverns is above 5000 feet so the skies were both dark and clear.  

 

Bottom line:  I think the area around Kingman has a lot to offer.  There is an active astronomy community. There are definitely dark skies to be had.  The area between Kingman and Seligman to the east is essentially undeveloped.  

 

Jon


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#106 cbwerner

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Posted 24 May 2018 - 10:05 PM

Wow Jon! What a great visit that must have been!


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#107 Claytoncramer

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 05:17 PM

Good quality of life, Low crime, not too far from civilization? Presently live in the high tax state of NY and will retire in a couple years.

 

Thanks for your input!!

I live just north of Boise, ID.  Ada County where Boise is located, has a dark sky ordinance.  The new development of Avimor, while in the process of being annexed by the City of Eagle (which has no dark sky ordinance), is owned by a firm deeply committed to dark skies.  Except for new construction lights they seem to be doing a good job at it.

 

I live in Boise County (not where Boise City is located).  We have no dark sky ordinance yet.  Instead we have dark skies.  When I first bought the parcel where I had my house built, I had trouble finding constellations because the Milky Way washed them out.  Easily mag. 6.5 skies.

 

Crime?  A murder in Boise is often a front page story for days on end.


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#108 Claytoncramer

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 05:17 PM

Good quality of life, Low crime, not too far from civilization? Presently live in the high tax state of NY and will retire in a couple years.

 

Thanks for your input!!

I live just north of Boise, ID.  Ada County where Boise is located, has a dark sky ordinance.  The new development of Avimor, while in the process of being annexed by the City of Eagle (which has no dark sky ordinance), is owned by a firm deeply committed to dark skies.  Except for new construction lights they seem to be doing a good job at it.

 

I live in Boise County (not where Boise City is located).  We have no dark sky ordinance yet.  Instead we have dark skies.  When I first bought the parcel where I had my house built, I had trouble finding constellations because the Milky Way washed them out.  Easily mag. 6.5 skies.

 

Crime?  A murder in Boise is often a front page story for days on end.



#109 Claytoncramer

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 09:21 AM

I'm just living vicariously reading this thread, but as an Ohioan used to having coyotes as the local non-human apex predator and thinking about some recent CN threads, let me also request suggestions specifically for bear- and cougar-free western dark sky areas. 

Cougars are easy to deal with; one was stalking our dog, but my wife put two rounds downrange and it seems to have learned our springer spaniel is NOT food.



#110 Claytoncramer

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 09:23 AM

I this from first hand knowledge or based on media coverage?

 

I suspect the problems may be far less than portrayed in TV, movies and indeed, on the news.

A friend moved north because his land was immediately on the border.  He had to chain everything down (bicycles, barbecues) or it would be taken.



#111 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 11:11 AM

A friend moved north because his land was immediately on the border.  He had to chain everything down (bicycles, barbecues) or it would be taken.

 

Our place is about 4 miles from the US-Mexico border on the eastern slope of the Laguna's.  It's isolated.. 

 

Crime is not an issue, the place is literally crawling with Border Patrol agents. The ratio of patrol agents to residents .  Somewhere between 1:2 and 1:1.

 

5839862-25 inch Obsession.jpg
 
The mountains beyond the trees , those are well into Mexico .
 
Jon


#112 Poconut

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Posted 17 June 2018 - 05:53 PM

To the OP.  Telescopes and dark skies aside... where ever you think you might want to go to for your retirement ... start now and research medical, taxes, cost of living, crime, climate, cloudiness, natural disasters and also where the closest bars are (ok, that one is important to me).  Two years to retirement is cutting it very short (10 years away would be better to start), so start taking 2-3 week vacations to various locations that you have pre-screened on the internet (hit all the places you can on each trip for at least 1-2 full days).  You will weed some of the areas out quickly.  Once you have narrowed it down to half a dozen, then start taking 1-2 week vacations to each.  Once you decide on 2 or 3 places, then try to really spend some quality time in each.  Subscribe to the local newspapers (on-line) and read them daily.

 

Your choice will be clear.

Needless to say, if you go to the local bars, the people will quickly tell you what is good/bad about the area and you will also get a good taste of the local flavor and lifestyle of the people.  It speeds up the learning curve.

Also, once you do make decision - rent for at least a year if possible before sinking your money into a permanent homestead.  This will also give you a chance to survey "local talent" for contractors and a handyman for helping you out with your new observatory that you will obviously build once you have truly found home.


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#113 radial195

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 11:55 AM

Poconut, excellent advice!!!


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#114 WoodyEnd

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 11:29 PM

Cougars are easy to deal with; one was stalking our dog, but my wife put two rounds downrange and it seems to have learned our springer spaniel is NOT food.

It probably learned to wait until you or your wife are out of sight or have your backs turned. The lions in my area are very aggressive.  I may have to talk to the game warden and get permission to take ours out if necessary.



#115 mountain monk

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Posted 20 June 2018 - 10:13 AM

The border...

 

Ballpark twenty years ago I spent four winters on a remote ranch one mile from the border about 20 miles east of Nogales. Everyone on the ranch was armed at all times--I carried a Glock in a shoulder holster and a sawed-off Remington 870 in my truck. There were thefts, carjackings, robberies, and several murders. When the voices in the night got too loud from groups fleeing across the border someone would go outside and crank several rounds into the sky to stop the dogs from barking. The Border Patrol didn't have a base there then (they do now) so they often staged operations our of our barn. They arrived in the dark with no lights on, parked with their horse trailer in the barn, and left at dawn on big horses wearing slickers and carrying M-16s. There were always helicopters in the valley with spotlights, surveillance flights, and that spooky blimp above Fort Huachuca that could listen to phone conversations in Panama. OK, the overall risk was small, and I have an extremely high tolerance for risk, but what got to me eventually, especially after travels along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and in Peru (the Shinning Path) was the constant low level stress that comes with always being armed, being around others who are armed, and the constant awareness of possible danger in your environment. It gets old. I came back to Wyoming and am happier to deal with grizzlies and cougars. I would not advise people to move to or observe close to the border except in a group that knows the area. As for moving there: talk to the locals and the BP to find out what is really going on. And extrapolate 20 years into the future. I still have friends there and they say things have gotten worse. 

 

Dark skies.

 

Jack


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#116 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 June 2018 - 08:47 PM


I would not advise people to move to or observe close to the border except in a group that knows the area. As for moving there: talk to the locals and the BP to find out what is really going on. And extrapolate 20 years into the future. I still have friends there and they say things have gotten worse.

 

 

 

Clearly one cannot generalize about the US-Mexico border anymore than one can generalize about the weather along the Pacific coast. The region around Nogales that you have some familiarity with is quite different than the region in San Diego county where our place is located. 

 

Just down the road in Jacumba is a historical Hot Springs resort, it's a short walk to the border fence/wall, a few hundred yards.. Across the street is the county library.  Up the other way is the San Diego Astronomy Association Dark Site at Tierra del Sol.  No one who lives around here seems concerned or worried about border violence.  It's relaxed, low key.  Last year when a fire threatened a nearby community and people were evacuated muy pronto, the border patrol helped evacuate horses and live stock and since they intimately knew the area, they fed animals that had not been evaculated.  

 

Of course, I would not recommend moving anywhere without first talking to the locals and finding out what is really going on.  That's just common sense.  That Nogales and Boulevard are as different as Detroit and San Diego in terms of border violence, that's something one would find out talking to the locals.  

 

Jon



#117 mountain monk

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Posted 20 June 2018 - 10:19 PM

Well, I agree, of course. As I said, the ranch was very remote--at the end of a 19 mile dirt road--and there were only a few other large ranches in the valley. No town or population centers at all on either side of the border. Also, the valley was flanked by two mountain ranges, the Hauchucas (with elevations approaching 10,000 feet) and the Patagonia. Both are extremely rugged, both are major drug routes. So, the danger was from criminal activity and drug deals, not from people trying to migrate. I've seen quite a few photos of where you live and it doesn't look anything like the ranch. One easy comparison: I could't see another light from the ranch, even from a nearby hill. Remote and wild, not rural. And the border was porous. Mexican ranch hands just walked cross-country to come to work. When we needed cowboys to move cattle a call was made and the next morning my Aussie would go berserk because half a dozen of them would be in the corral, sitting on their horses. I'm sure things are different now. But I doubt the pervasive sense of unease has changed, and that was my main point.

 

Dark skies.

 

Jack




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