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PG&E gifted me Bortle 1 skies!

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#1 Joe Eiers

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:15 PM

 OMG!!!  I On the 9th, Humboldt county in northern California lost all power.  Completely.  I was plunged into Bortle 1 skies at about 1 am, but the moon was still up.  My wife and I set the alarm and slept till moonset at 3am and checked the skies... It was INCREDIBLE.   Horizon to horizon BLACKNESS!  My wonderful wife busted outside with me to set up my 20" Dob as quickly as we could.  What a thrill!  I was able to get 2 1/2 hours of fantastic dark sky observing from my BACK YARD.  It was the first time I saw the pinks in the Orion nebula, directly saw spiral arms in M33 and M81, just like a photograph - my wife even was thrilled to see them and she can't see ANYTHING in my telescope when I have my normal 20.25 skies.  The rest of the no power thing was a nightmare - we were completely unprepared for 3-5 days of the whole thing.

Too bad the moon wasn't new!!

   I'll never forget that night.


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#2 Tyson M

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:20 PM

Wow! Must've have been a thrilling night!   

#3 Cali


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Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:29 PM

Agreed Joe. I'm in the Easy Bay and I've noticed that the skies (not as dramatic as yours) are darker and there is a near absence of the "light dome" affect around the horizon.


- Cal 

#4 markb


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Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:57 PM

At least some silver lining to the ill-executed mess. A huge benefit for sky watchers!

Despite wide-spread power outages after hurricanes here, 15 miles from NYC, our skies barely improved, sadly.

For the powerless, I highly recommend my 'hurricane kit', used for 2 week-long outages; Walmart's largest 12v truck battery (they come charged, now) , 1 large and one smaller, capacity 12v inverters from Harbor Freight, a few heavy duty extension cords, and LED bulb replacements (besides the essential and common LED battery powered lights). Their 125w solar panels chould help with recharging, but we got 2-4 days on the battery alone, I just don't recall.

Eventually I rigged it to the oil burner to get hot water. I tried to run the fridge, but the freon leaked out by day 2, killing it.

The HF tiny $90 generator was all we used for ac and battery recharging as the week wore on. We simply could not get gas to fuel a big generator on the prior hurricane, but the little one went a week on one fuel can, 8 hours or so a day.

My south Indian neighbor later told me that inverters and batteries are commonly used there to deal with power outages.

Edited by markb, 10 October 2019 - 11:00 PM.

#5 PirateMike



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Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:02 PM

I would think that your skies were a lot like my skies after Hurricane Maria killed the lights here in PR.


No electricity stinks (6 months in the dark!) but there is a bright lining to every dark cloud.


Enjoy the dark skies while you can. waytogo.gif



Miguel   8-)



#6 Jim Waters

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:10 PM

I wonder if this will happen again...?



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#7 WarmWeatherGuy



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Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:18 PM

When I lived in Orlando the power went out which meant I couldn't do anything I would normally be doing so I decided to take my scope out to the driveway and enjoy the extra dark skies. Unfortunately the 4 street lights that bathe my front yard were still going. Apparently they're on a different circuit. Oh why couldn't it have been the other way around?

#8 Joe Eiers

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Posted 11 October 2019 - 12:40 AM

Thanks Mark.  Nice tip.  

I was really surprised that some lights somewhere weren't on battery backup or something.   When the power went out I couldn't see a single light anywhere - not the faintest glow.  I've seen two solar eclipses and this gave me that familiar "struck by lightning-omg" feeling.  It is hard to describe.  I do a lot of observing in my back yard, so am intimately familiar how it looks and feels- be it moisture ridden, smoky, high clouded, or cold and super clear.  What I saw made the best super "snappy" clear cold night look like a thin foggy night comparatively...  I was unprepared when I went outside and took it all in.  The whole scene around me was so completely different!  The hills being the stark barrier to the stars as they suddenly stopped at the horizon...  It was weird.  The houses around me didn't fit in.  They seemed out of place without any sign of light or life, as if plucked out of a city and plunked down in the middle of nowhere... It was weird.

 I guess I'll be making those longer trips to darker skies next summer!

 I can't imagine PG&E is ever going to shut down whole chunks of the state again... it was EXTREMELY unsettling and downright dangerous for some.  Still, if it happens again, and there's no moon, I'll be READY!!!!


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