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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.

     Joe


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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-)

 

.


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#6 Jim Waters

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Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:10 PM

I wonder if this will happen again...?

 

https://timeline.com...on-ebd60d5acd43


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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?


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#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!!!!

   Joe



#9 PEterW

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 12:24 PM

Nice to think the skies are still there, but hiding. Had my fingers crossed earlier in the year when chunks of the UK dropped off the grid, but everything was back on by sundown...

Peter

#10 gmartin02

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 09:04 PM

At our home in So Cal - orange zone skies, we lost power for 30 hours during the same wind event, but unfortunately, all of the communities around us (and all of LA) still had power, so no dark sky luck for us :(

 

We had water, gas, and cable modem service - just no electricity to run anything. This was a problem since I work from home and need electricity and a high speed data connection to work (not to mention to run the refrigerator).

 

 

My wife and I figured that these "power down" events may be periodic, so I went out and bought a pure sine wave generator, as well as a pure sine wave inverter for my deep cycle battery box.

 

I did a bunch of testing with my new generator and inverter, and I can power the refrigerator, the network closet, and my PC at the same time from the generator, or the network closet and a laptop with just the inverter/DC battery for "generator quiet time" at night (and could run for many hours this way - recharge in the morning with the generator). 

The DC battery or the generator can also power my tankless natural gas water heater (small load), and the generator can also run the VS blower motor for the gas furnace (but not at the same time as the refrigerator - it's one or the other and some small stuff).

 

Now I think we might be ready to really enjoy a wide spread power outage and the resulting dark skies (as long as it doesn't last too long)



#11 AstroVPK

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 10:55 AM

Thats really lucky of you! I hope you took a few photos of the MW above your roof as a keepsake.



#12 quazy4quasars

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 06:49 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.

     Joe

I used to live in Humboldt County; there's a great spot with Bortle 1 skies south of Hwy 299 along the G1 Forest Service rd.  Look up Grouse Mountain; incredible skies and a flat slab that you can set up on, and room to camp- right by the spur road along the ridge -at about 5000'  


Edited by quazy4quasars, 30 October 2019 - 06:50 PM.


#13 Rustler46

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 09:47 PM

I used to enjoy fairly dark skies on Fickle Hill above Arcata when the fog was thick at sea level. With over a thousand feet of dense fog, it was beautiful. But having the lights off below would be even better.



#14 dhferguson

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 11:43 PM

Cheers,

 

Yeah, the power went off here in much of the Bay Area too, generally in all the hills and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, my flatland Tri-Valley area was a big island of light. I noticed little change. Oh well.

 

Happy observing always,

 

Don



#15 tchandler

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 06:01 AM

I suppose the dark skies meant there were no nearby fires or smoke, as well. Double bonus.

In spite of how absolutely horrible these wildfires have been, it’s refreshing that there is still a “wisp of a silver lining”. 



#16 jcj380

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Posted 01 November 2019 - 09:10 AM

I keep hoping for a massive outage here.  Might ruin the food in the fridge, but it would be worth it for a few nights of dark skies at home.



#17 Joe Eiers

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 12:42 AM

    Well, last week they did it to me again!!  This time for TWO days.

 I was ready this time.  I had my SQM meter and took readings all night!  My readings ranged from 21.77 to 21.9 leaning to the higher end. 

  Again, what a THRILL!!!  The first night I concentrated on objects I really wanted to hit the first time, ie. galaxies, galaxy clusters that stuck out in my mind like Stephen's Quintet.   Once again, it was like a photograph - not just the 3 usual,  but all of them, even the one off to the side.  I NGC 7331 was a real treat, FINALLY not just a glow, but detail...   

  The real fun happened the 2nd night as I spent the day in between PREPARING for that next night.  I went through all my favorite books and eeked out 160 potential objects that I wanted to see...  Not that I would be able to knock out that many....  but I wanted OPTIONS!  I put the list in Sky Safari, and was ready to go when it got dark.  The 2nd nights SQM readings were the same as the first night.  There were some differences;  the night started out with some high cirrus clouds that made these eerie tenuous inky black threads blocking out the masses of stars...  it was WEIRD! 

 

For starters I decided to go back to M33 since it was at the zenith, expecting a repeat of the original blackout.  Impossibly, it was BETTER!  The spiral arms were so defined and full of H II regions, you could have spent an evening just observing the OBJECTS in M33!  I was astounded.  I was dying to go to NGC 891, which is usually a real killjoy.  I was not disappointed.   The view nearly brought a tear to my eye.  For the first time in my life, it looked like the pictures I was so enamored with as a kid growing up watching "The Outer Limits."  The dark lane was just "there" and the mottled structure of the galaxy pronounced.   

 

Another favorite I went to was NGC 253, which is always pleasant to see and usually shows detail and is fairly bright.  The view I had was what you always wished the ANDROMEDA GALAXY would look like!  It was SUPER bright, full of detail and even BETTER detail than the pictures you see (without color, of course).  I was really surprised!  

 

I FINALLY tracked down Comet PanStars in Auriga.  It was a nice sight.  Very bright coma, short fanny tail.  Looked great with the starry background of Auriga to show it off.  Wish I could have seen Africano.  Tried doing it with my C14 last month with 20.4 SQM skies, and I couldn't find it...

 

  I saw lots of other stuff - over 36 objects - galaxy clusters (Fornax A), Perseus Cluster, a DIZZYING number of UMa) , emission nebula, etc...   but what a night!!!   It SUCKED to have no power but what a treat.   Now we have a generator so the wife will be happier...  On that note, she was, as always a real sweetie helping me get all set up - I picked a great spot some distance from the house where I had a GREAT horizon, and used the wheelbarrow handles to get her over there.  The wife helped me get all my "accessories"  back and fourth.   Better yet, she kept the mochas coming!   It was really great.  Can't wait to get my Nexus DSC from Eyepieces.etc...  I'll be able to knock out many more objects.

 

  Looking forward to the NEXT time they kill my power.  I'll be ready.

  Bet it will be raining.

 

    Joe


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#18 Toups

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 06:53 AM

I wonder if this will happen again...?

 

https://timeline.com...on-ebd60d5acd43

Great article, sad but true.




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