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Which would you choose for dark skies? Burlington, VT or Bangor, ME?

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#1 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 06:08 PM

Greetings CN:

 

I'm considering a move from NYC to one of these two cities in New England (and open to others if you have any to suggest) and thought to look on here for some guidance.   They seem to also have good breathable air in general which is why they made the list. 

 

The following questions came up during my research:

 

1.  Which city is closest to the darkest skies?  They both seem to be within driving distance to some of the darkest skies in the North England based on the maps I looked at, but which city is closest to sites that are convenient and accessible?  Burlington is close to the Adirondacks which looks like a plus.

 

2.  Which city is closest to public observatories?  There are a bunch in NYS which are about 4 to 6 hours away from Burlington.

 

3.  Which city is has an astronomy culture?  The Amateur Astronomer's Association in NYC is pretty awesome.  The skies are not however. :/

 

Thanks in advance.


Edited by FishInPercolator, 12 September 2018 - 07:03 PM.


#2 Bean614

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 06:48 PM

As a New England resident, in Western Massachusetts, I am familiar with both areas.  But, and this is a BIG but, a LOT is going to depend on your age, job, family needs, and services that you expect to be provided by your new State.  Dark sites opportunities are about equal in both areas, with an ever so slight advantage to Bangor.  However, since  DO have to also live there, and without being political at all, those 2 States are run extremely differently!  They are, truly, like night and day.  I would strongly urge you to thoroughly investigate ALL aspects of life in each State.  Having great skies where you live isn't very beneficial if you don't want to live there!


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#3 DLuders

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 06:49 PM

You can pan/zoom this LightPollutionMap.info graphic to get your answer:   https://www.lightpol...ers=B0TFFFFFFFF



#4 jupiter122

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 06:54 PM

You may want to think long and hard about moving to a location in the Northeast for its dark skies. They may be relatively dark today, but may not be in 3, 4, or 5 years.  I travel to what used to be pretty darks skies in the White Mountains of NH, but over the last 5 years even minor growth in towns 15 miles away has gone a long way to ruining the night skies.

 

Good luck. 

 

Tim


Edited by jupiter122, 12 September 2018 - 06:55 PM.


#5 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 07:01 PM

As a New England resident, in Western Massachusetts, I am familiar with both areas.  But, and this is a BIG but, a LOT is going to depend on your age, job, family needs, and services that you expect to be provided by your new State.  Dark sites opportunities are about equal in both areas, with an ever so slight advantage to Bangor.  However, since  DO have to also live there, and without being political at all, those 2 States are run extremely differently!  They are, truly, like night and day.  I would strongly urge you to thoroughly investigate ALL aspects of life in each State.  Having great skies where you live isn't very beneficial if you don't want to live there!

Yes, granted, hence why I will be visiting both relatively soon. 

 

May I ask if you would elaborate on why Bangor has the slight advantage?  I would think Burlington given it's close to the Adirondacks. 

 

Thanks!



#6 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 07:03 PM

That sounds so unfortunate. 

 

Unfortunately, for personal and logistical reasons, the Northeast is my only option right now.

 

The White Mountains seem like a vast area - have you tried to find a darker location?

 

You may want to think long and hard about moving to a location in the Northeast for its dark skies. They may be relatively dark today, but may not be in 3, 4, or 5 years.  I travel to what used to be pretty darks skies in the White Mountains of NH, but over the last 5 years even minor growth in towns 15 miles away has gone a long way to ruining the night skies.

 

Good luck. 

 

Tim


Edited by FishInPercolator, 12 September 2018 - 07:05 PM.


#7 aleigh

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 07:17 PM

I lived near Saxton's River VT back in the 90s (not that far from bellows falls), on a rural road. I recall the sky being phenomenal, but flash forward to today and I am surprised to see my old property is a Bortle Class 4. Now I drive less than an hour north out of Phoenix and get a class 2, and class 1 is a bit further but ready at hand. As others have said, check the light pollution map if that is your priority. I've found it invaluable for selecting sites. 


Edited by aleigh, 12 September 2018 - 07:17 PM.


#8 roscoe

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 07:18 PM

Burlington has a club - the Vermont Astronomical Society - that is, or at least was, quite active.

 

Burlington is indeed close to the adirondacks, but it involves a ferry ride from Burl to Plattsburg (other side of the lake) or a long drive..... to the east - into the green mountains - is the closer dark skies....

 

for dark skies, look into where the ski areas are, and don't go there...at least in winter...



#9 Bean614

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 07:19 PM

Yes, granted, hence why I will be visiting both relatively soon. 

 

May I ask if you would elaborate on why Bangor has the slight advantage?  I would think Burlington given it's close to the Adirondacks. 

 

Thanks!

Because, besides the busy airport, there's not much there, and to the East (ocean), North, and West, there's really no development, and just a thin 'corridor' heading SW.  The Burlington area does have a bit of civilization-spread in each direction.  However, if it was me, and I had to choose between just those two, it would most certainly be Burlington!



#10 roscoe

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 07:29 PM

The Vermont Astro Society has an observatory about 20 minutes south of B'ton.... it is the Green Mountain Observatory - they have a clear sky clock. tomorow night looks spectacular on their clock.

 

Burlington is a progressive urban hub, lots of activities, and lots of recreational activities nearby... and Montreal is less than 2 hours away if you want the real city experience. 

 

The sunset over the lake with the adirondacs on the horizon can be quite spectacular.



#11 earlyriser

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 07:35 PM

Any difference in cloud cover? Doesn't matter how dark it is if you are socked in with lake effect clouds.

 

Isn't Stellafane in Vt?


Edited by earlyriser, 12 September 2018 - 07:36 PM.


#12 rowdy388

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 08:23 PM

The countryside north of the Adirondacks and south of the St Lawrence River in NY is 

relatively open and sparsely populated with Bortle 3 or better skies in the darkest regions.

The key theme here is open countryside where the entire sky is visible.



#13 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 08:39 PM

Because, besides the busy airport, there's not much there, and to the East (ocean), North, and West, there's really no development, and just a thin 'corridor' heading SW.  The Burlington area does have a bit of civilization-spread in each direction.  However, if it was me, and I had to choose between just those two, it would most certainly be Burlington!

Yeah, the ocean is nice... Sand Beach isn't too far away so that's another + for Bangor.



#14 roscoe

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 08:42 PM

Any difference in cloud cover? Doesn't matter how dark it is if you are socked in with lake effect clouds.

 

Isn't Stellafane in Vt?

Burlington can be really socked in with morning fogs, but you don't  get the 'lake effect' snow and clouds like cities west of the great lakes...

Stellafane is in eastern VT, on the other side of the mountain range.



#15 Kendahl

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 09:08 PM

A quick look at lightpollutionmap.info shows that northern Maine, less than 50 miles from Bangor, has darker skies than anywhere in Vermont. There are astronomy clubs in both cities. Penobscot Valley Star Gazers (gazers.org has a link to them in Facebook) in Bangor and the Vermont Astronomical Society (vtastro.org) in Burlington.

 

You need to consider what it will be like living in either place when you aren't doing astronomy. The cost of living is substantially higher in Burlington than in Bangor because of real estate prices. The weather is about the same in both (not good for astronomy compared to the midwest or southwest). It's best to spend a full year in a place before making a commitment (e.g. buying real estate) but that's not practical unless you are retired.



#16 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 09:50 PM

Burlington can be really socked in with morning fogs, but you don't  get the 'lake effect' snow and clouds like cities west of the great lakes...

Stellafane is in eastern VT, on the other side of the mountain range.

Oh really.... Hmm.  I expect the morning fog doesn't happen every day though, right?



#17 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 09:52 PM

A quick look at lightpollutionmap.info shows that northern Maine, less than 50 miles from Bangor, has darker skies than anywhere in Vermont. There are astronomy clubs in both cities. Penobscot Valley Star Gazers (gazers.org has a link to them in Facebook) in Bangor and the Vermont Astronomical Society (vtastro.org) in Burlington.

 

You need to consider what it will be like living in either place when you aren't doing astronomy. The cost of living is substantially higher in Burlington than in Bangor because of real estate prices. The weather is about the same in both (not good for astronomy compared to the midwest or southwest). It's best to spend a full year in a place before making a commitment (e.g. buying real estate) but that's not practical unless you are retired.

Maine having darker skies 50 miles from Bangor maybe true, but are they accessible at night? 

 

I will not be able to spend a whole year in each city but I can spend a week or two.  Burlington is on the horizon :)



#18 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 09:54 PM

The countryside north of the Adirondacks and south of the St Lawrence River in NY is 

relatively open and sparsely populated with Bortle 3 or better skies in the darkest regions.

The key theme here is open countryside where the entire sky is visible.

Are you implying the entire sky *is* or *is not* visible in that area?

 

I know there is an observatory over by Tupper Lake.



#19 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 09:56 PM

The Vermont Astro Society has an observatory about 20 minutes south of B'ton.... it is the Green Mountain Observatory - they have a clear sky clock. tomorow night looks spectacular on their clock.

 

Burlington is a progressive urban hub, lots of activities, and lots of recreational activities nearby... and Montreal is less than 2 hours away if you want the real city experience. 

 

The sunset over the lake with the adirondacs on the horizon can be quite spectacular.

Is the Green Mountain Observatory the one in Hinesburg?



#20 sink45ny

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 10:03 PM

Both cities are red zones. So living within city limits would suck. I vote for burlington VT. well outside city limits.



#21 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 10:08 PM

Both cities are red zones. So living within city limits would suck. I vote for burlington VT. well outside city limits.

True but even within the city limits, Burlington and Bangor are way better than NYC where I live currently per the light pollution maps I've looked at. 



#22 sink45ny

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 10:13 PM

True but even within the city limits, Burlington and Bangor are way better than NYC where I live currently per the light pollution maps I've looked at. 

Okay so do this on the night of a new moon when the weather is clear drive outside city limits towards a green zone and note the difference. It's huge. I live 90 minutes from NYC and grew up 30 minutes from NYC trust me. After living in the boonies for a few years you will wonder what was I thinking living within city limits.



#23 FishInPercolator

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 10:38 PM

Okay so do this on the night of a new moon when the weather is clear drive outside city limits towards a green zone and note the difference. It's huge. I live 90 minutes from NYC and grew up 30 minutes from NYC trust me. After living in the boonies for a few years you will wonder what was I thinking living within city limits.

So perhaps I should consider a green zone to live in.



#24 Tony Flanders

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 03:40 AM

Given the choice, I would live in Burlington -- but then, my family has deep roots in Vermont. They are both attractive cities, and very different from each other. Vermont is much more civilized -- not a value judgment, but a fact. Vermont is studded with small cities and old towns, has direct access to Albany and New York to the south, and is very close indeed to Montreal to the north. (Montreal is truly one of the world's great cities.) Bangor, by contrast, is capital of the logging country -- a vast tract of land owned by a handful of paper companies, extremely sparsely populated, deeply impoverished, still in some ways stuck in the 19th century.

 

Both cities have easy access to fairly dark skies, though in both cases it's tricky to find spots where the sky isn't totally obstructed by trees. Lakes are likely to be your best bets. The dark area in Maine is much bigger and darker than the dark areas in Vermont -- but I'm not sure it matters much. Burlington is probably less cloudy, because it's in the rain shadow of the Adirondacks. It does get lake-effect weather in autumn, but that stops when Champlain freezes over. Obviously, everywhere in the Northeast is cloudy, and that tends to get truer as you go farther north.


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#25 Tony Flanders

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 06:02 AM

You may want to think long and hard about moving to a location in the Northeast for its dark skies. They may be relatively dark today, but may not be in 3, 4, or 5 years.  I travel to what used to be pretty darks skies in the White Mountains of NH, but over the last 5 years even minor growth in towns 15 miles away has gone a long way to ruining the night skies.

I'm curious where those sites are. Most of the places I have observed in the WMNF are as dark now as they were 15 years ago.




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