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I've gotta get out to dark skies!

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#1 rocco13

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 08:59 AM

Just a mild rant, and thanks in advance for letting me vent...

 

I really need to get out to some dark skies.

 

Just getting back into the hobby in February after a year-and-a-half hiatus, but I haven't been out away from the city lights in at least 6-7 years. I did have a good 90 minute session in my urban backyard Saturday night, nabbing 37 objects and overall quite pleased with the way things went. Using my C8, and despite being surrounded by street lights, it was able to pull in a boatload of Open Clusters and a handful or so of galaxies...all the M's in Leo, along with 63, 94, 106, 81, 82.

 

But it was the half-dozen objects that I couldn't see that made me pine for the open desert sites I used to go to. I could not get the third member of the Leo Trio, nor 3077, nor M's 108 and 109. Also unsuccessful seeing 101, 102, 2903. No luck either with M97, or that planetary nebula hanging in M46, even with an Ultrablock filter on these two. Just way too much skyglow.

 

I know these and many more objects are well within the limits of an 8" scope under even moderately dark skies. A mere 60-90 minute drive would make a world of difference. Unfortunately it always seems like there's something preventing me from packing up and heading out. Whether it's family obligations, plans with the wife/kids/grandkids, uncooperative weather, or I'm just too tired...I never seem to get that opportunity. I'd better do it soon, because before you know it, our intense desert heat will be here and won't be gone until October.

 

Don't get me wrong...I thoroughly enjoy my backyard sessions. It's just there are so many things being washed out by the city lights. I KNOW they're right there, in my eyepiece, but I'm unable to see them due to the glow. Like trying to swim through a shower curtain!


Edited by rocco13, 16 April 2018 - 09:25 AM.

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#2 rustynpp

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 10:24 AM

I feel you. I live in Manhattan and keep my astro stuff out in Montauk, on the far eastern tip of Long Island. Skies are relatively dark out there, but getting to do any observing at all requires a weekend trip and a rental car. And of course the clouds don't give two hoots about my schedule undecided.gif

 

But every once in awhile you have a magical night under a dark sky, and you remember that this hobby is so so so worth it smile.gif


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#3 AnalogKid

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 10:32 AM

I hear ya...   Just getting back in the hobby after 25-30 absence using equipment I purchased as a teenager.  Would love to be 60-90 minutes from a dark site.   I am about an hour away from Yellow sites.  Driving further only gets you more light.  To get to green would be about 2.5 hours.   At home is orange so it really isn't much of a gain, but enough to easily see the difference.   Finally made it to the local astronomy's club site, It's between orange and dark orange, just on the boarder of orange    Interestingly enough we drove a little over an hour to get there, only to be hampered by horrible seeing conditions.  Only saw two stars of the little dipper, and you almost had to use adverted vision to see Polaris.   I've seen more in my suburban back yard on a night with good seeing.

Frustrating indeed.  


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#4 Exnihilo

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 11:18 AM

Just a mild rant, and thanks in advance for letting me vent...

 

I really need to get out to some dark skies.

 

Just getting back into the hobby in February after a year-and-a-half hiatus, but I haven't been out away from the city lights in at least 6-7 years. I did have a good 90 minute session in my urban backyard Saturday night, nabbing 37 objects and overall quite pleased with the way things went. Using my C8, and despite being surrounded by street lights, it was able to pull in a boatload of Open Clusters and a handful or so of galaxies...all the M's in Leo, along with 63, 94, 106, 81, 82.

 

But it was the half-dozen objects that I couldn't see that made me pine for the open desert sites I used to go to. I could not get the third member of the Leo Trio, nor 3077, nor M's 108 and 109. Also unsuccessful seeing 101, 102, 2903. No luck either with M97, or that planetary nebula hanging in M46, even with an Ultrablock filter on these two. Just way too much skyglow.

 

I know these and many more objects are well within the limits of an 8" scope under even moderately dark skies. A mere 60-90 minute drive would make a world of difference. Unfortunately it always seems like there's something preventing me from packing up and heading out. Whether it's family obligations, plans with the wife/kids/grandkids, uncooperative weather, or I'm just too tired...I never seem to get that opportunity. I'd better do it soon, because before you know it, our intense desert heat will be here and won't be gone until October.

 

Don't get me wrong...I thoroughly enjoy my backyard sessions. It's just there are so many things being washed out by the city lights. I KNOW they're right there, in my eyepiece, but I'm unable to see them due to the glow. Like trying to swim through a shower curtain!

There's a group from Phoenix that uses the old airfield near Salome for dark sky trips.  You could try hooking up with them.



#5 SeaBee1

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 05:35 PM

Man, I feel your pain, Rocco! I have been using telescopes now for only three years and have yet to get to a dark site, and for all the reasons you state. Even the opportunities for viewing at my light infected home site are scarce these days... but they are like rare jewels for me, to be enjoyed and cherished for their rarity. I also try to choose targets I know I should be able to see regardless of the DFW Light Dome. It eases some of my frustration... but only some of it...

 

Keep looking up!

 

CB


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#6 George N

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 10:25 PM

There is one problem with a truly dark sky - it is very addicting......  cool.gif


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#7 clearwaterdave

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 11:48 PM

There is another problem with a dark site.,when there's no moon and it's foggy and drizzly out.,and no lights within a mile or so.,It's really really dark.,:).,
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#8 seawolfe

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 04:20 AM

Three of my "dark sites" just happen to be near VOLCANOES!  wink.gif

 

Mt. Rainier

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Adams (south central Washington)

 

It's been 38 years next month since St. Helens had a temper tantrum.


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#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 06:04 AM

It's been 38 years next month since St. Helens had a temper tantrum.

 

Wow.. I was 32 at the time.. Hard to believe it was that long ago.  My father, who grew up in Oregon, passed away just a few weeks after that eruption. He was able to enjoy the drama.  My mom had gone to Saint Helens Hall..

 

I can understand the pull of those dark clear skies.  I generally get in about 10 days a month under dark skies but due to various issues on the home front, I have been limited to maybe half that.  Tonight though, I will be out under dark skies.. At least that's the plan.  The Clear Sky Chart Looks pretty good.  

 

TierradelSolCAcsk.gif?c=1425611

 

I also enjoy the views from my urban backyard.  I just look at different things.

 

Jon


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#10 Mike E.

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 06:37 AM

.............  It's been 38 years next month since St. Helens had a temper tantrum.

 

Wow, it doesn't seem that long ago.

 

I was at Spirit Lake two days before it blew. My friend and I were on our way back from a hunting trip in Canada when we pulled over at a truck stop for a bite to eat. People were saying it was going to erupt soon and a lot of tourists were expected. Since it was a long way back to Los Angeles, we decided it would be interesting to drive up for a closer look. When we got up to the lake, everywhere looked just like another smoggy day in LA, so lucky for us, we turned around and headed back down South.  It doesn't seem that long ago.sad.png


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#11 rocco13

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 07:56 AM

There's a group from Phoenix that uses the old airfield near Salome for dark sky trips.  You could try hooking up with them.

Thanks for that suggestion, but Salome is 110 miles from my house. I'd love to make it out there sometime. I used to go south to Vekol Rd but that also is pushing 90 miles.

 

The 60 minute drive I refer to barely gets me out past the White Tank Mtns, where it's reasonably dark, but the Phoenix light dome is still quite visible. Right now I'd be happy with just getting out from under the streetlights that keep my yard awash in light!


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#12 Exnihilo

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 11:22 AM

Wow.. I was 32 at the time.. Hard to believe it was that long ago.  My father, who grew up in Oregon, passed away just a few weeks after that eruption. He was able to enjoy the drama.  My mom had gone to Saint Helens Hall..

 

I can understand the pull of those dark clear skies.  I generally get in about 10 days a month under dark skies but due to various issues on the home front, I have been limited to maybe half that.  Tonight though, I will be out under dark skies.. At least that's the plan.  The Clear Sky Chart Looks pretty good.  

 

TierradelSolCAcsk.gif?c=1425611

 

I also enjoy the views from my urban backyard.  I just look at different things.

 

Jon

I was about 20 years old and living in Denver.   We had ash coming down for St. Helens, enough to be visible on car windshields.



#13 AnalogKid

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 12:22 PM

I was about 20 years old and living in Denver.   We had ash coming down for St. Helens, enough to be visible on car windshields.

I was in my early teens and in Pittsburgh PA ash had covered everything in a fine film.  Couldn't see it coming down, but I do remember everything coated in it.  My buddy wrote his name in the ash on his dad's car trunk lid and he sure did hear about it   After it washed off, you could make out his name in the scratches.  


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#14 Eddgie

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 06:44 AM

I use image intensified eyepieces, so even from the city, the list of things I can see is impressive (Horse Head is easy most nights).

 

Even with image intensifiers, the difference between my city skies and dark skis is pretty titanic.  Under dark skies, the Milky Way is literally enveloped in nebula and eyepiece views are so thick with stars that it still boggles my imagination.

 

It does not matter what you are using, nothing improves it like getting it under dark, transparent skies. 


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#15 Rikz

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 07:26 AM

Three of my "dark sites" just happen to be near VOLCANOES! wink.gif

Mt. Rainier
Mt. St. Helens
Mt. Adams (south central Washington)

It's been 38 years next month since St. Helens had a temper tantrum.

The views with your dark sites are what dreams are made of.

Rik
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#16 seawolfe

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 08:33 AM

The views with your dark sites are what dreams are made of.

Rik

I agree!  Here are four sites that I set up at....Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park and lastly, at the annual Pixieland Star Party just west of Goldendale, Washington not too far from the Columbia River....that's Mt. Adams in the background.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1st attempt at long exposure of star trail Mt Rainier 10_25_2013.jpg
  • Setting up near Mt St Helens.JPG
  • Jim setting up on Hurricane Ridge Olympic Natl Park 05-23-2014.JPG
  • Pixieland Star Party near Goldendale WA with Mt Adams in the backgroud.JPG

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