Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Darkest site near NYC?

  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 vidrazor

vidrazor

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 63
  • Joined: 31 Oct 2017

Posted 16 February 2019 - 05:41 PM

Hi folks, looking around on the light pollution map, I've noticed that the darkest area near the NYC area (where I live) is a spot roughly 2.5 hours up in New York State around the Pepacton Reservoir near the towns of Downsville and Margaretville. I'm not sure of the lay of the land, but there seems to be some decent spots to shoot. Has anyone ever done any astrophotography in this area? If so, what are good spots? Any problems with wildlife at night?

 

Thanks for any info on this.

Attached Thumbnails

  • dark.jpg


#2 Carl N

Carl N

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1547
  • Joined: 18 Mar 2012
  • Loc: San Diego, CA

Posted 16 February 2019 - 10:03 PM

I might reccomend trying up near West Point. Not as far and lots of wilderness area.

#3 Daniel Dance

Daniel Dance

    Eastern Voltage Research, LLC

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1651
  • Joined: 08 Jun 2016
  • Loc: Philadelphia, PA

Posted 17 February 2019 - 09:39 AM

Hi folks, looking around on the light pollution map, I've noticed that the darkest area near the NYC area (where I live) is a spot roughly 2.5 hours up in New York State around the Pepacton Reservoir near the towns of Downsville and Margaretville. I'm not sure of the lay of the land, but there seems to be some decent spots to shoot. Has anyone ever done any astrophotography in this area? If so, what are good spots? Any problems with wildlife at night?

 

Thanks for any info on this.

You can always shoot down the garden state parkway down to Belleplain State Forest in NJ.  Its about a 2 hour drive for you from NYC.

We have a very nice private observatory under really dark skies. (21.5 SQM on the best nights)

 

We get a lot of imagers from NYC / NNJ area down here.



#4 ShortLobster

ShortLobster

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 32
  • Joined: 17 Sep 2016
  • Loc: Stamford, CT, USA

Posted 17 February 2019 - 11:02 AM

Montauk is about the same drive time (though could be different depending on where you are in NYC) and almost as dark. The park at the tip is open to the public and has lots of parking lots and fields away from lights. I'm set up there for visual. You should check park access hours, they could be different by season. 

 

Weather is probably more of a wild card, however. It WILL be windier. 



#5 vidrazor

vidrazor

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 63
  • Joined: 31 Oct 2017

Posted 17 February 2019 - 07:25 PM

Thanks for your replies. While I'm sure those sites are very nice, as I've experienced similar skies out in west Jersey at Jenny Jump Observatory in Hope NJ, they all share similar light pollution skies. The area by the Pepacton Reservoir is significantly darker than any area around it (relative to NYC), which is why I'm surprised more people in my area haven't considered it.

Attached Thumbnails

  • skies.jpg


#6 lucam

lucam

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 290
  • Joined: 09 Oct 2017
  • Loc: Upstate NY, USA

Posted 18 February 2019 - 10:58 AM

I live in the Albany area and we have several sites within a half hour drive wth 21.5 mag/arc-sec^2 skies. The Adirodacks offer many opportunities for dark skies (some of the darkest skies East of the Mississippi), probably too far from you though. 

 

Something to consider is also what your imaging target is. While the Catskills are likely much darker at Zenith than the spot Daniel suggested on Cape May, if you want to image in Orion for example, from the Catskills you will be pointing straight into the New York metro light dome, while Daniel will be shooting over the Ocean. Darkness at Zenith is not the only parameter to consider when you select a site that requires a several hour drive from your house. 


Edited by lucam, 18 February 2019 - 02:36 PM.


#7 reddog1972

reddog1972

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 244
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2016
  • Loc: Northern NJ

Posted 18 February 2019 - 01:11 PM

Are you looking to go east or west from NYC? I live in northern NJ about 15 miles west of the city, and I'm only an hour drive from Jenny Jump state park in Hope,NJ (exit 12 on rt 280 west). It has sqm 20.9 to 21.0 skies and for an hour drive from the city that's about as good as you're going to get. There is open telescope night up there every Saturday evening between April and October, all there are six observatories there which are run by the various astronomy clubs located within NJ.

#8 Howie L

Howie L

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 131
  • Joined: 08 Nov 2004
  • Loc: New Jersey

Posted 18 February 2019 - 02:31 PM

I observe and do some astrophotograpy  from my Mothers place in West Shokan, which is in the Catskills but,  East of where you are looking, 

I have a light dome from Kingston in the East, and a bit from some towns in the south.

It is fairly dark, and I  easily can see the MilkyWay from one end of the sky to to the other ( even thru the light dome in the south)

My  darkest skies are in the  west .

 

There a lot of campgrounds where you are looking, but I don't know which ones are friendly for astronomers ( .ie flood lights ).

( it would be good to find something North  off of route 17 )

 

You would be in the mountains, so on a lot of clear nights the seeing is quite bad,

If you have a moderately  wide filed astro setup, you might be able to get some nice images,

also bring a lawn chair and binoculars.



#9 reddog1972

reddog1972

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 244
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2016
  • Loc: Northern NJ

Posted 18 February 2019 - 03:49 PM

After rereading your post, it appears you've already been to JJ. I'm actually heading up to Hamden, NY for April new moon weekend to do AP and will report back on the sky quality there. It appears Hamden is in the general vicinity to which you are referring.

#10 Jerry Lodriguss

Jerry Lodriguss

    Vendor

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 6926
  • Joined: 19 Jul 2008
  • Loc: Voorhees, NJ

Posted 18 February 2019 - 05:37 PM

You can always shoot down the garden state parkway down to Belleplain State Forest in NJ.  Its about a 2 hour drive for you from NYC.

We have a very nice private observatory under really dark skies. (21.5 SQM on the best nights)

Take a deep breath and let it out very slowly.

 

This is a typo.

 

It never gets to 21.5 on the SQM at Belleplain.

 

What he meant was 20.5.

 

Jerry



#11 vidrazor

vidrazor

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 63
  • Joined: 31 Oct 2017

Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:29 AM

Thanks for your replies. Some of you mention potential problems with targets, especially at the horizon. As I mentioned earlier I don't really know the lay of the land other than perusing satellite views on Google Maps. Appears to be some clearings here and there that maybe suitable for certain parts of the sky. But what to shoot will really depend on what's up in the sky when I could make it to a spot like that.

 

I figured I'd inquire if anyone's done any astro work up that way, as it's relatively close to the NYC area.



#12 DanielJStein

DanielJStein

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 15
  • Joined: 10 May 2017

Posted 27 February 2019 - 09:48 AM

Hey Vid,
 
I image up in the Catskills all the time. Most notably, I spend a pretty good amount of nights near, on, or around the Pepacton Reservoir. Like others are saying you will see light domes due SE, but for the most part the skies are great considering the travel distance from NYC. I live outside of the city in NJ and I can get up there in a little over 2 hours.
 
I mostly do widefield Milky Way nightscapes, but I have done my fair share of basic DSO around the reservoir. I only have and am familiar with basic portable equipment, so maybe my word is not the advice you are looking for. The main issue is finding a spot with good 360º views. There are plenty of pull-offs around the reservoir, but many are blocked by tress as the reservoir is lower in elevation than its surrounding mountains. I usually make do by establishing what target I want to shoot on a given night and where it will be in the sky. I use this information and determine which pull off will give way to the direction I can both polar align and image in. 
 
There is a graveyard off NYC Road 6 which I have imaged from only once. I know it sounds spooky, but the actual gravestones are only a small percentage of the entire field. The rest offers pretty good visibility towards the South and just enough to the North to get PA.

 
There is one hike in particular called Shavertown trail which offers fantastic near 360º just 1 mile deep at Snake Pond, but if you do not have portable equipment like me this is not going to work for you. I typically only go on this hike during the summer months to capture the Milky Way over the reservoir. For camping in the area, I usually stay at the Little Pond Campground. It is a DEC NY Campground so it is well maintained with facilities. There is a lake there with decent views, but if I recall correctly there are some lights on site in the nearby parking lot which are annoying.
 
I use a Nikon D850, iOptron Skyguider Pro, and various lenses for the bulk of my imaging. Attached are a few pictures.

 

EDIT: just to note in the last picture the light on the horizon is mostly from the moon. This was taken from the Snake Pond atop Shavertown trail.

Attached Thumbnails

  • niehfk0pnbh21.jpg
  • s01upgndsx121.jpg
  • gr67rt4f2qs11.jpg

Edited by DanielJStein, 27 February 2019 - 10:50 AM.

  • lucam likes this

#13 vidrazor

vidrazor

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 63
  • Joined: 31 Oct 2017

Posted 27 February 2019 - 12:11 PM

Thanks for your reply. I also plan on having a portable setup that I can hike with, it will probably be based on a Skyguider Pro, so your info is great. I did notice the graveyard while looking at satellite views of the area, and noticed it seemed like a viable spot to shoot from. Looking at a combination of terrain maps and satellite views, I searched for opened fields at higher elevations, sloped in any particular direction, looking for potential sites.

 

It's not clear to me what is private property and what is legally accessible. I also wonder about wildlife in the area in the evenings.

 

Thanks again for your reply.


Edited by vidrazor, 27 February 2019 - 12:12 PM.


#14 sink45ny

sink45ny

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1510
  • Joined: 08 May 2014
  • Loc: Pennsyltucky

Posted 27 February 2019 - 12:22 PM

I've been in and around the Pepacton Reservoir and it's very dark. Be aware that the DEC and NY state police are ever present in these areas and suspicious of anyone near the NY city water sources.



#15 DanielJStein

DanielJStein

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 15
  • Joined: 10 May 2017

Posted 27 February 2019 - 08:41 PM

Thanks for your reply. I also plan on having a portable setup that I can hike with, it will probably be based on a Skyguider Pro, so your info is great. I did notice the graveyard while looking at satellite views of the area, and noticed it seemed like a viable spot to shoot from. Looking at a combination of terrain maps and satellite views, I searched for opened fields at higher elevations, sloped in any particular direction, looking for potential sites.

 

It's not clear to me what is private property and what is legally accessible. I also wonder about wildlife in the area in the evenings.

 

Thanks again for your reply.

There is a lot of private property in the area. I certainly have scoped locations on Google Maps plenty of times only to arrive on site and discover they were private. No matter, once you find a handful of good locations that work for you you should be set. However, if you shoot landscapes like I do it is sometimes hard to find a change in scenery. I think a good weekend spent up there to scout locations by day would be helpful.

 

For wildlife, this is the Catskills, so expect black bears mostly. I have never had an encounter but always be aware of your surroundings. I usually play music (rather loudly) on a somewhat powerful bluetooth speaker when imaging alone to deter any animals. Black bears in particular would rather avoid a human interaction, so any means to make noise to allude them to your presence is a good idea.

 

I've been in and around the Pepacton Reservoir and it's very dark. Be aware that the DEC and NY state police are ever present in these areas and suspicious of anyone near the NY city water sources.

 

Yup, I have run into a few enforcement officers all of which were very friendly especially seeing my equipment set up and knowing what I was doing. I have a NYDEP permit regardless even though I don't plan on finishing or having a boat ever. Registration is free and easy, might as well right! 




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics