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Great Dark Sky Site

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#1 GeneT

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 12:42 PM

Here is a good news story for ametuer astronomers. There is a great dark sky site in North Western Nevada, and that is going to be named a Dark Sky Sanctuary. There are numerous dark sky sites throughout Nevada, but this one might be closer to a bunch of people, and people who might be traveling in the West.

 

 https://www.rgj.com/...ion/3315988002/


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#2 Codbear

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 01:16 PM

I have been studying the western Nevada area north of Reno for the last few months on the DarkSite Map and Light Pollution map.

 

While I haven't been looking that far north, I've been concentrating on Flanigan, at about 4,400 ft elevation and 30-40 miles north of Reno where, according to the sites, it's light grey.

 

Anywhere from 10 to 40 acres of land come up for sale fairly frequently from $5,00-$25,000; some sites require 4 wheel drive to access, while others are adjacent to a paved road that, I imagine, gets very little traffic.

 

Purchasing 10 acres and fencing off a few hundred to a few thousand square feet in the middle of it with gated access would seem to be a great way to spend a few nights at a time of quality dark skies; Or perhaps, use the Flanigan area as a place to stay and rest up a bit during the day, then drive the extra 100 miles or so to Massacre Rim for the darkest of the dark nighttime views.


Edited by Codbear, 31 March 2019 - 03:43 PM.

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#3 mountain monk

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:55 PM

This is great news. For years I've been pushing the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge as one of, if not the, darkest area in the U.S. Massacre Rim is adjacent to it to the west. Better yet, I've been planning on spending a week there this autumn! A few notes:

Road 8A is the only decent road in the area; it's gravel, graded, and maintained. However, it you go over the cattle guards at 50 mph you will be launched... Other roads are not to be trusted unless you have 4x4, a winch, and extra water (especially) and food to sit out being stuck in the mud, possibly for days after of big storm.

You can also have an adventure by approaching Massacre Rim by driving down through the refuge starting at the Virgin Valley Campground, off Route 140 (Just as dark as Massacre Rim). Ask about road conditions at the Visitor Center. Again, carry extra supplies: this is wild, remote country, a long way from gas or food, and you are on your own.

It has the densest population of rattlesnakes I've ever seen. Beware.

No campgrounds that I know of at Massacre Rim, but lots of them in the refuge.

Dark skies.

Jack

Edited by mountain monk, 31 March 2019 - 03:56 PM.

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#4 mkothe

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 09:31 PM

I just checked it out on Google maps with satellite view. Wow, that is some remote place! Very intimidating-looking. The skies must be amazing, but maybe a bit too remote for me.

Michael

#5 mountain monk

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 10:51 AM

This is true. Very remote! But the other really dark places which I know are also intimidating. Those would be...

The boot heel of New Mexico, south of Lordsberg; the Henry Mountains in southern Utah; and the north end of Death Valley at Eureka Dunes.

If you want Bortle 1 skies, you will need to get a long away from people, usually on dirt roads. That's the price.

Dark skies.

Jack

Edited by mountain monk, 01 April 2019 - 10:52 AM.


#6 mkothe

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 10:57 AM

Hope to be able to experience Bortle 1 skies someday.

 

Maybe I'll get up my courage and check aplace like this out... laugh.gif



#7 rayden68

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 06:37 PM

i drove from winnemucca nevada to lakeview oregon two weeks ago. i love this drive. talk about remote, drive 100 miles during the day and only see 2 cars. stop at high passes and as far as you can see in all directions nothing but wilderness. the really good part is no towns on the verge of booming and no urban sprawl heading that way so it will stay one place where you can see a true dark sky. i grew up in places like this and you cant fathom it until you see it for yourself. Lights isolate people from the universe around them and leads them to forget the big picture and lose perspective because of the prison bars of light pollution.


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#8 mountain monk

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 10:08 PM

Well said. I've been driving between Wyoming and various point in California for exactly sixty years. I think I tried every variation. But that marvelous southern Oregon/northern Nevada county is the loneliest place I've ever been in the lower U.S. My wife says " it has dimension." Route 140 has always been a favorite: hundreds of miles of dark skies. You are lucky to live where you do. To most people it is amazing to drive that far and see only two cars. I had the same thing happen to me a year ago last November when I drove from Capital Reef down to Mexican Hat. Dive for hours and pass a couple of cars. More dark skies. The West is blessed to have so many left.

Dark skies.

Jack
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#9 rayden68

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 10:29 PM

"You are lucky to live where you do."   Yes i grew up out west served 25 years in the military and then purposely picked out here to retire for that very reason. no place like it. having grown up out west it is sad to see a lot of the dark sky places have disappeared.  Where i lived in high school is ruined by the new and improved las vegas light dome. I tell people all the time i never thought i would live to see the day when dark was a hard to find commodity i walk out on my property look up at the milky way shining bright and every ounce of work was worth it. I am so very glad they are looking at protecting that dark sky area. 


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#10 Tony Flanders

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 07:32 AM

Hope to be able to experience Bortle 1 skies someday.

 

Maybe I'll get up my courage and check aplace like this out... laugh.gif

Well, if you never go to a remote spot, you will never lose your fear of going there. As far as I'm concerned, the more remote the location the more comfortable I feel.


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#11 Akol47

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 06:16 PM

I love the idea of just taking a few weeks off work, loading up and going on an adventure to somewhere super dark. Hundreds of miles on the highway then transition to maintained gravel and transition again to unkempt rutted out nasty country roads and up the side of a mountain and just camp out for a while, I'm not far from decent skies but I'm states away from something like that. I feel like I need to do something like that in the next year or two... 


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#12 rayden68

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Posted 02 April 2019 - 09:37 PM

your only 800 miles from Chaco canyon an international dark sky park! load up your XT8 and you could drive out observe for 4 days and drive back so you only need a week! At a super dark site with some elevation you will swear the XT8 is an XT12waytogo.gif


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#13 Akol47

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Posted 03 April 2019 - 03:41 PM

<p>That's a lot easier to handle than 1600 to massacre rim, might look into that...</p>

#14 jrbarnett

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:43 PM

Here is a good news story for ametuer astronomers. There is a great dark sky site in North Western Nevada, and that is going to be named a Dark Sky Sanctuary. There are numerous dark sky sites throughout Nevada, but this one might be closer to a bunch of people, and people who might be traveling in the West.

 

 https://www.rgj.com/...ion/3315988002/

Shhhhhhh...

 

At the request of some central and western Nevadan local observers I haven't advertised my half dozen or so weekend trips to the state.

 

Nothing kills dark faster than people knowing about it.  :grin:  So if you're in Cali, DO NOT GO TO NEVADA!  It's awful.  Terribly light polluted and socially backward.  Go to California's great dark sites.  Like Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego.  :whistle:

 

On a more serious note, I've thought about purchasing a few thousand central Nevada acres (the land is cheap, cheap, cheap) just to secure a dark zone of my own so that I don't have to see any other Californians when I observe there, unless I want to.

 

If a few more of you Silicon Valley Types would pick up your own ten thousand acre spreads adjacent to mine, we could pretty much ensure that the heart of Nevada stays dark and empty.

 

Best,

 

Jim


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#15 Araguaia

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 09:21 AM

That sounds like a great idea!  A dark sky private reserve.  Wildlife also benefits.  I bet you could get matching funds from Nature Conservancy and the like.


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#16 vsteblina

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 06:56 PM

Jim, you do know that the weather is much, much, much warmer in southern Nevada and the skies almost as dark.



#17 jrbarnett

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Posted 25 April 2019 - 01:39 PM

Jim, you do know that the weather is much, much, much warmer in southern Nevada and the skies almost as dark.

Some of the dark sites in southern Nevada seem less transparent to me, and the Vegas light dome is quite large and visible over a huge area - it has all but devastated the astronomy enjoyment in the Mojave National Preserve for example.  It was bad in 2010.  Last August I passed through on the way back from Vegas and camped at Mid-Hills, and it was at least 2x the height and 3-4x the area of the dome we suffered in 2010. 

 

Hotter and windier also makes for more particulates in the atmosphere.  And it's rare that it's especially warm above 7k feet (compared to sea level in the same location).  I think significant elevation is a key element in achieving the transparency that is essential to realize the potential of an otherwise dark sky.  I've been under very dark, poor transparency skies that are extremely disappointing.  The SQM tells only part of the story; under a blanket with no local light sources, the SQM shows near perfect darkness, but you'd be able to see no stars.

 

Given my requirement of 7k feet+ in elevation, I generally also don't do dark sites in cold weather.  smile.gif

 

Best,

 

Jim


Edited by jrbarnett, 25 April 2019 - 02:43 PM.

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#18 jrbarnett

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Posted 25 April 2019 - 03:01 PM

I just checked it out on Google maps with satellite view. Wow, that is some remote place! Very intimidating-looking. The skies must be amazing, but maybe a bit too remote for me.

Michael

So long as you don't have a "real purty mouth" you'll be fine.

 

:)

 

- Jim



#19 kksmith

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Posted 25 April 2019 - 03:44 PM

The latest issue of Sky &Telescope has an article on GNP (Glacier National Park) being listed as a dark sky site. And yes it is very dark there at night. However - yearly there are wildfires in the park or around it.  The smoke plays the dickens with viewing - even for me about 1.5 hours away.

 

Ken


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#20 vsteblina

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Posted 25 April 2019 - 05:21 PM

Some of the dark sites in southern Nevada seem less transparent to me, and the Vegas light dome is quite large and visible over a huge area - it has all but devastated the astronomy enjoyment in the Mojave National Preserve for example.  It was bad in 2010.  Last August I passed through on the way back from Vegas and camped at Mid-Hills, and it was at least 2x the height and 3-4x the area of the dome we suffered in 2010. 

 

Hotter and windier also makes for more particulates in the atmosphere.  And it's rare that it's especially warm above 7k feet (compared to sea level in the same location).  I think significant elevation is a key element in achieving the transparency that is essential to realize the potential of an otherwise dark sky.  I've been under very dark, poor transparency skies that are extremely disappointing.  The SQM tells only part of the story; under a blanket with no local light sources, the SQM shows near perfect darkness, but you'd be able to see no stars.

 

Given my requirement of 7k feet+ in elevation, I generally also don't do dark sites in cold weather.  smile.gif

 

Best,

 

Jim

 

7K is pretty high for flatlanders. AND if you "don't do dark sites in cold weather"......you have a VERY LIMITED window for astronomy!!

 

21.8 dark sky reading outside Alamo.

 

It was warm in March. The light dome from Las Vegas was pretty low in the southwest horizon. The map said 80 miles to the strip clubs of Las Vegas. The light dome was much lower than I expected......

 

The problem is heading north....it gets cold really quick. But as I said before the suburbs of Alamo, north of town, are probably almost as warm and the light dome from Vegas lower still.



#21 jrbarnett

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Posted 25 April 2019 - 10:57 PM

7K is pretty high for flatlanders. AND if you "don't do dark sites in cold weather"......you have a VERY LIMITED window for astronomy!!

 

21.8 dark sky reading outside Alamo.

 

It was warm in March. The light dome from Las Vegas was pretty low in the southwest horizon. The map said 80 miles to the strip clubs of Las Vegas. The light dome was much lower than I expected......

 

The problem is heading north....it gets cold really quick. But as I said before the suburbs of Alamo, north of town, are probably almost as warm and the light dome from Vegas lower still.

8 out of 12 months a year  I can enjoy 7000 foot observing in central Nevada without being "too cold" but truly "comfortable" is probably closer to 6 months a year.  I'd be lucky to have as much observing time.  :)

 

The only threats to sky conditions in central Nevada are forest fire smoke and an uptick in mining.  Round Mountain gold mining operation is a blight, but fortunately it's very low in elevation in a deep , steep canyon.  But from the canyon entrance it is bright and it operates shifts 24x7.

 

Best,

 

Jim



#22 jaraxx

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 06:02 AM

Wow. There's someone besides me who knows about the Henry Mountains! Not to mention people are discussing the Sheldon NWR. The whole area from Sheldon NWR to Hart Mtn NWR and Steen's Mtn / Malheur  Lake NWR is very dark. 



#23 mountain monk

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 11:32 AM

Yes they are. It's always nice to meet someone else that knows those places.

Dark skies.

Jack

#24 KidOrion

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:37 AM

Question for those in the know: If I was to make a dark sky trip to either Massacre Rim or Sheldon NWR in January/February, what kind of conditions (weather and driving) could I expect, and where would the best observing site(s) be?



#25 jaraxx

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:51 AM

Best observing sites will be just about anywhere. The weather will be 40s high most of the time and 20s lows most of the time, but the lows could be very low (in the negatives F) and the wind may be terrible at any time (or most any time). Precip won't usually be much (still in the rain shadow) but may be snow if it comes and will almost certainly be snow if at night.

I think those are the worst two months at this location - I'd go somewhere else if possible.




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