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Nevada dark skies, NVs, mid-aperture telescopes and 10x50s stole the show...

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#1 jrbarnett

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 07:55 PM

Two of my astro-buddies, Jeff Cooke and Ray Talylor, camped out t elevation in central Nevada for a few nights around the last New Moon.

 

It was a smaller, ad hoc get together, unlike our major planned, well-attended dark sky events.

 

The site is located at 7500 feet and ranges between Bortle 1 and Bortle 2, depending on seasonal forest fires in the distant Sierra Nevadas.  It's the kind of site where, f you want light pollution, you have to be the one who generates it.  :grin:

 

By day it is hot, dry, harsh, inhospitable and not high on anyone's "want to visit" itinerary list.

 

Gearwise we had an eclectic mix.  Jeff was fielding 15x70s on a Virgo-style p-mount.  I fielded Fuji Polaris 10x50s on a UA Binolight plus a C9.25 Edge HD on a Takahashi Temma 2M mount.  Ray had a 5" refractor but his main observing platform, with and without a telescope, was his Gen 3 night vision rig.  Utterly mind-blowing from the perspective of how much such a device makes accessible to a relatively small aperture instrument.

 

The point is, we had very good, transparent, dark skies, and great light gathering capability, especially under those incredible skies.  To give some context as to "how good" conditions were, in the 9.25" using glass eyepieces rather than the NV, direct vision revealed some structure in the tiny galaxy in the field of M13.  Conditions were flawless for visual observing.

 

My most memorable views for the session, and my favorite instrument of all of those listed, including the techno-marvel night vision device, were my Fuji 10x50s.  Though naked NV showed the big gas regions of the Milky Way in detail, with structure, visually, the near-perfectly corrected analog "glass" image of the backbone of night were complex, detailed, awash with stars and non-stellar matter, and the context supplied by the wide FOV compared to any of the other instruments was extremely beautiful for the galactic core so prominent after midnight.

 

The supreme darkness and transparency allows the modest 50mm of aperture and 10x magnification to nonetheless show significant resolution on all but the dimmest of the Messier globulars.  Open clusters were stunning as well.  Time and again I found myself standing with the p-mounted Fujis, picking off DSOs in and around the Teapot.  M81 and M82 were clearly visible in a single FOV, and M82 even revealed mottling more akin to what I am used to seeing through a 4" or larger scope under suburban conditions.

 

I've come to regard the 10x50 Fujis as "must haves" for anyone who travels to very dark places to observe.  They are durable, elegant in a workmanlike manner, optically well-designed and executed, not light, but likewise, no heavier than they need to be in order to avoid being fragile, weather proof and a reasonable value.  Love 'em.

 

- Jim    


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#2 RadioAstronomer

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 08:32 PM

I'm really glad to read your experience because something similar happened to me some two years ago while observing in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains with my Fuji 10x50s on a photo tripod. 

On that night there were bigger telescopes, reflectors, premium APOs and whatnot. Yet the combination of wide field, crystal clear and bright images  of the Milky Way through my humble 10x50 glass managed to stay in my memory as one of the best visual nights that I remember.


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#3 jimr2

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 09:07 PM

jrbarnett,

 

Hi, glad to hear of your recent good experiences under the dark skies of central NV! Until a year ago, I lived in Tonopah, NV (elev 7000-ft) and even only 2-3 miles out of town, the skies were great there too, as long as you weren't looking back towards the town. Our late little astronomy club there I belonged to (Tonopah Astronomical Society) had a pretty good dark ski site 35 miles NW of town, just north of Hwy 95 where we'd host annual public star parties, and I know that the Las Vegas Club (LVAS) comes up to Belmont, NV (about 40 miles NE of Tonopah) for one of their members-only annual star parties, and the skies are very dark there as Belmont has only about 50 year-round residents.

 

Anyhow, again, glad you enjoyed Nevada's dark skies (where did you go exactly?), and if you're planning another trip out there in the future, please let me know?! I now live in the Reno area, under not-so-dark skies!

 

Thanks!

 

-jim r-



#4 jrbarnett

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Posted 23 August 2019 - 11:50 PM

jrbarnett,

 

Hi, glad to hear of your recent good experiences under the dark skies of central NV! Until a year ago, I lived in Tonopah, NV (elev 7000-ft) and even only 2-3 miles out of town, the skies were great there too, as long as you weren't looking back towards the town. Our late little astronomy club there I belonged to (Tonopah Astronomical Society) had a pretty good dark ski site 35 miles NW of town, just north of Hwy 95 where we'd host annual public star parties, and I know that the Las Vegas Club (LVAS) comes up to Belmont, NV (about 40 miles NE of Tonopah) for one of their members-only annual star parties, and the skies are very dark there as Belmont has only about 50 year-round residents.

 

Anyhow, again, glad you enjoyed Nevada's dark skies (where did you go exactly?), and if you're planning another trip out there in the future, please let me know?! I now live in the Reno area, under not-so-dark skies!

 

Thanks!

 

-jim r-

Hi Jim.  This trip we went to Berlin-Ichthyosaur, and passed through Reno.  In fact we have one club mate who lives in Carson and another who lives in Sparks.  This is my fourth trip to B-I, and the club's second.  Next time I am or we are headed that way I will give you a heads up.

 

One truly fascinating thing we encountered on this trip is an abandoned, deep, hardrock mine (this one was signed "Sky #4").  I looked the claim up and it has been inactive/abandoned since 1982.  In this case someone with a big truck (1-ton or 3/4-ton) had yanked one of the wood posts that supported the locked gate blocking the access road, and likely used the same truck to rip the doors off the main shaft.  The steel diamond plate door with the ground wire sealing the old dynamite storage room remained intact.  The main doors were wood.

 

The fascinating pars was how cold the air coming out of the mine entrance was.  It got us thinking.  What if we bought a claim for such a tapped out digging, and rather than mining it, set up an observing campground (private for us and friends) and built a little shade ramada in front of the shaft opening for a zone of natural air conditioning.  Not sure what maintaining a claim costs, and you'd want a bunch of insurance in case some nimrod astronomer wandered in and fell into a vertical shaft, but dang that cold air on a hot day after a long hike felt really good.

 

PM me your e-mail address and I'll add you to our club mailing list if you like.

 

Best,

 

Jim 



#5 Erik Bakker

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Posted 24 August 2019 - 05:11 AM

Wonderful report Jim. A privilege indeed to observe under such pristine skies in utter darkness.

Like you, I find my 10x56 binoculars a stunning deep sky instrument under good skies, especially when mounted well.

It’s combination of lightgathering, detail visible and context around the objects of interest make for very enjoyable views.


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#6 dd61999

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Posted 24 August 2019 - 11:23 AM

Jim did you use your 7x35 for wide field views as well? Any comments on those in dark sites 


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#7 gwlee

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Posted 24 August 2019 - 12:11 PM

Jim,

 

Enjoyed your observing report. I am planning a visit to this dark sky preserve in Northern Nevada when the weather cools off a bit, but is still warm enough for comfortable camping and observing. 

 

https://www.npr.org/...es-in-the-world

 

Binoculars are my favorite instrument, but I might take a small refractor too. Haven’t had an opportunity to experience night vision technology yet, but it’s on my must do list. 

 

The 10x50 FMT-SX is also one of my favorites for astronomy. Mine was stolen a few years ago, so I ordered another 10x50 and a 7x50 to compare and kept the 7x50 this time around because I live in a fairly dark, rural county now. 

 

Gary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by gwlee, 24 August 2019 - 12:39 PM.

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#8 Nakedgun

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Posted 24 August 2019 - 05:59 PM

Nice report.

 

I, too, find 10x50s to be my go-to for bino astronomy, and they get more usage than the smaller - and larger - models I own.

 

 

 

 

IMGP4947 - Copy.JPG

 


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#9 John F

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 01:49 AM

jrbarnett, on 23 Aug 2019 - 5:55 PM, said:jrbarnett, on 23 Aug 2019 - 5:55 PM, said:

 

My most memorable views for the session, and my favorite instrument of all of those listed, including the techno-marvel night vision device, were my Fuji 10x50s.  Though naked NV showed the big gas regions of the Milky Way in detail, with structure, visually, the near-perfectly corrected analog "glass" image of the backbone of night were complex, detailed, awash with stars and non-stellar matter, and the context supplied by the wide FOV compared to any of the other instruments was extremely beautiful for the galactic core so prominent after midnight.

 

I've come to regard the 10x50 Fujis as "must haves" for anyone who travels to very dark places to observe. 

 

- Jim    

Jim,

 

I've observed at similar high elevation very dark sky sites in the South Eastern corner of Oregon and I agree that when used at such sites a high quality pair of 10x50s (or 10x56s) can provide very enthralling and memorable views of the night sky.  Larger aperture (56 - 70mm) and higher power (15-18x) binoculars certainly out perform them when it comes to revealing more detail on individual deep sky objects but the 10x50s have the advantage of enabling the observer to  view a significantly larger section of the night sky and if that "larger section" includes the especially star rich sections of the Milky Way then I find those views to be every bit as stunning and engaging as any I've experienced before when using higher power and larger aperture instruments.

 

However, it isn't just the instrument (in this case a very fine pair of 10x50s) that makes this type of experience possible.  It is also the location where they're used at and whether they're being hand-held or mounted.  When it comes to being able to use binoculars under the type of conditions that will enable them to perform up to the their full potential then taking them to a really dark sky site and using them there is essential.  That doesn't mean that a fine pair of binoculars like the Fujinon10x50s won't perform reasonably well anywhere else, but for them to be able to provide the types of view that motivated you to write your glowing report then yeah, location also matters.

 

John Finnan


Edited by John F, 25 August 2019 - 01:50 AM.

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#10 Tyson M

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 06:37 PM

Two of my astro-buddies, Jeff Cooke and Ray Talylor, camped out t elevation in central Nevada for a few nights around the last New Moon.

 

It was a smaller, ad hoc get together, unlike our major planned, well-attended dark sky events.

 

The site is located at 7500 feet and ranges between Bortle 1 and Bortle 2, depending on seasonal forest fires in the distant Sierra Nevadas.  It's the kind of site where, f you want light pollution, you have to be the one who generates it.  grin.gif

 

By day it is hot, dry, harsh, inhospitable and not high on anyone's "want to visit" itinerary list.

 

Gearwise we had an eclectic mix.  Jeff was fielding 15x70s on a Virgo-style p-mount.  I fielded Fuji Polaris 10x50s on a UA Binolight plus a C9.25 Edge HD on a Takahashi Temma 2M mount.  Ray had a 5" refractor but his main observing platform, with and without a telescope, was his Gen 3 night vision rig.  Utterly mind-blowing from the perspective of how much such a device makes accessible to a relatively small aperture instrument.

 

The point is, we had very good, transparent, dark skies, and great light gathering capability, especially under those incredible skies.  To give some context as to "how good" conditions were, in the 9.25" using glass eyepieces rather than the NV, direct vision revealed some structure in the tiny galaxy in the field of M13.  Conditions were flawless for visual observing.

 

My most memorable views for the session, and my favorite instrument of all of those listed, including the techno-marvel night vision device, were my Fuji 10x50s.  Though naked NV showed the big gas regions of the Milky Way in detail, with structure, visually, the near-perfectly corrected analog "glass" image of the backbone of night were complex, detailed, awash with stars and non-stellar matter, and the context supplied by the wide FOV compared to any of the other instruments was extremely beautiful for the galactic core so prominent after midnight.

 

The supreme darkness and transparency allows the modest 50mm of aperture and 10x magnification to nonetheless show significant resolution on all but the dimmest of the Messier globulars.  Open clusters were stunning as well.  Time and again I found myself standing with the p-mounted Fujis, picking off DSOs in and around the Teapot.  M81 and M82 were clearly visible in a single FOV, and M82 even revealed mottling more akin to what I am used to seeing through a 4" or larger scope under suburban conditions.

 

I've come to regard the 10x50 Fujis as "must haves" for anyone who travels to very dark places to observe.  They are durable, elegant in a workmanlike manner, optically well-designed and executed, not light, but likewise, no heavier than they need to be in order to avoid being fragile, weather proof and a reasonable value.  Love 'em.

 

- Jim    

Enjoyable report!  So you enjoyed the night vision immensely as well? Curious to hear more thoughts from you on that part.

 

I agree that the key point here is that the Fuji's were p-mounted to reap the rewards.  I loved the Fuji's I had as well, but I think I may venture down the road of IS with the compatible 10x42L Canon's some day.  



#11 SMark

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Posted 25 August 2019 - 07:40 PM

Enjoyable report!  So you enjoyed the night vision immensely as well? Curious to hear more thoughts from you on that part.

 

I love my night vision setup. It offers whole new perspective on enjoying astronomy. 



#12 jrbarnett

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 12:28 PM

Jim did you use your 7x35 for wide field views as well? Any comments on those in dark sites 

Unfortunately not this trip.  It was a short visit (3 nights) and I have a tendency to pack much more than I need, which extends set-up and take-down time.  I limited myself to one telescope and one binocular, and still had too much stuff, though no at much too much as in the past.

 

An upcoming week-long trip to Utah will test "how lean" can I pack and not freeze, starve or rn out of astronomy and other activities to pursue.  :)  7x35s may make the Utah packing list.  We'll see...

 

Best,

 

Jim


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#13 dd61999

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Posted 26 August 2019 - 12:33 PM

Unfortunately not this trip.  It was a short visit (3 nights) and I have a tendency to pack much more than I need, which extends set-up and take-down time.  I limited myself to one telescope and one binocular, and still had too much stuff, though no at much too much as in the past.

 

An upcoming week-long trip to Utah will test "how lean" can I pack and not freeze, starve or rn out of astronomy and other activities to pursue.  smile.gif  7x35s may make the Utah packing list.  We'll see...

 

Best,

 

Jim

Look forward to the next report!



#14 Pezdragon

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Posted 27 August 2019 - 12:58 AM

Oh that’s just great Jim.....now I’m looking at these....

Fujinon 7x50’s or the 10x50’s wondering if they would make a big enough difference

from my WW2 SARD M21’s 7x50 and my 60 year old Rodenstock 10x50’s.

I’ve got to see through those! Fujinons !




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