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Your best skies

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#1 Golgie

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 12:13 AM

Just wanted to know when and where did you have your best observations at.

Mine was my first trip at a bortle 3 sky around mid summer,the best skies that i've seen just by the amount of visable stars.

My 2nd best would be a trip to a bortle one/two sky,there were less stars but the amount of detail of the milky ways center was breath taking.

Also why was it that a bortle 3 produced more stars then a 1 ? Ive been to the bortle 3 sky about 9 times and the first one was the best out of all of them,while still observing at the same location ?

Im guessing my first trip i had perfect 10/10 skies for that view and probably was very lucky on that,nothing else has compared since aside from the 1,two unique experiences.

#2 Astro-Master

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 01:43 AM

My best dark sky last summer was on a month long trip to Utah at a 9,600 ft. Bortle 1 zone with no visible light dome in any direction.  The SQM was reading 21:95 at the zenith with the Milky Way 20 degrees past the meridian, and casting a shadow.


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#3 birger

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 02:58 AM

The best sky I've seen is from Trysil in the Norwegian fjells. Crystal clear sky, and despite being young and not into astronomy, I vividly remember stars being different colors and the sky being black, really black. The Big Dipper at zenith was really impressive, and I remember seeing many stars within the bowl. Bortle should have been around 2, but nowadays I think it scores a 3. 700 m a.s.l. (2,300 ft). This was in mid-March, and trees to the north prevented me from seeing the Milky Way. Zodiacal light would probably have been prominent that evening, but I didn't know such thing existed so I didn't look for it. I wish I could go back to that night. :(

 

Nowadays, I have Bortle 3 skies some 50 km (30 mi) away from home, but sadly, the climate here is very humid, so the sky is not really impressive.

 

Transparency plays a great role in how much you see. I have been to a Bortle 2 sky, but due to immense humidity, I was barely able to make out the Milky Way, and limiting magnitude was a mere 5.5, hardly better than my current place of residence (Bortle 5 skies).


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#4 BradFran

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:08 AM

Bumpass Hell Trailhead parking lot in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California is consistently my favorite. It lies at 8,182 feet (2494 meters) just to the south of the most southerly peak in the Cascade range, Mount Lassen.

 

Back in the 90s it was really dark there. Now you see small light domes from Chico, Red Bluff and Redding on the horizon, making it probably only Bortle 2, learning 3 because of the light pollution, but in every other way is truly magnificent. I have had the privilege of spending many dozens of nights observing from that location. Many of them with truly great observers and friends under excellent seeing and very clear, transparent skies.

 

The Milky Way is gorgeously structured, leading one person to describe the experience as "lumpy darkness." The amount of stars visible is dizzying, causing someone who is accustomed to 6th mag skies to get lost and disoriented from time to time. M33 is completely obvious even when low. The Milky Way and Jupiter cast visible shadows. A magical place to visit.

 

National Park camp grounds are twenty minutes drive in either direction. Bring a comfortable lean-back camping chair and just take it all in. It gets very cold at night, even in August. The road is often not passable before end of May, and some years not until July. It closes again at the first snows, in some years as late as the end of November. The hike to Bumpass Hell, one of the most hydrothermally active areas in the US, is well worth it if you aren't too tired in the morning.


Edited by BradFran, 10 April 2020 - 07:26 AM.

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#5 csrlice12

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 10:18 AM

Outside Buena Vista, CO in a Bottle 1/2 zone at 9000+ feet...a big plus was the natural hot spring to soak in afterwards and just looking up.  That night, my ST80 was the best scope in the world.


Edited by csrlice12, 10 April 2020 - 10:19 AM.

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#6 chrysalis

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 11:14 AM

Outside Angel Fire, NM, 8000 feet elevation, Bortle 1 skies, early September 2010 . Milky Way cast a shadow. Clouds appeared as darker holes against the sky. M31 near the horizon was EASILY visible naked eye. I'd probably still be standing there except I was frightened away by this eerily unearthly sound that I later found out was the call of an Elk.


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#7 Golgie

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 12:03 PM

Nice guys,also forgot mention my bortle 3 skies was at Red Rock Canyon State Park,CA and bortle 1/2 was in baja california between the small town of lazaro cardenas and san felipe.

There was also a cloud that was partially covering andromeda/cassepioa,the cloud was dark.Still could see andromeda through the cloud but im sure i could of seen better if the cloud wasnt in the way.

Also was hot about 80-90° at 10pm !I should of stayed to the higher elevations as there was about a 1000ft drop to my viewing location. And there was a thunder storm to the east towards san felipe,and could see my shadow as well.

31°17'50"N 115°24'11"W location for the bortle 1/2

 

Scopes used at bortle 3

Orion XT8 plus

 

Bortle 1

Apertura AD12


Edited by Golgie, 10 April 2020 - 12:29 PM.


#8 j.gardavsky

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 01:40 PM

We used to go every year to the Dolomiti Mountains (Italy) for the late spring.

That's where I have seen for the first time the Sh2-27 (Zeta Ophiuci) Nebula through the 10.5x70 binoculars.

 

In the area, where we are living, there are some hills with the pretty good skies above.

In January, I have seen the Sh2-264 (Lambda Orionis) Nebula with unaided eyes.

 

As I don't have the SQM, I classify the skies according to some objects I can either see with unaided eyes, or through the 10.5x70 binoculars, which are always my companion for the observing sessions.

 

The backyard is nominally Bortle 4. When I can see the Triangulum Galaxy with the unaided eyes, or the M101 galaxy through the 10.5x70 binoculars, then I know that this is the right night to spend out under the stars.

 

Best,

JG


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#9 Migwan

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 05:07 PM

Most impressive night sky without a scope was up at Emerald Lake in Colorado.  Was up to play the part of a bear for the benefit of a couple who decided to camp on the lake shore, which was prohibited.   I swear, it really looked like you could reach up and touch the stars.  Must have been the altitude.  SQM21.99, 3065m

 

For the best skies with a telescope I have two.  First was at the north end of Organ Pipe, Arizona with the 2080. M82 looked like a stretched out mag 1 star.  I was able to take the 8" up to an unreal 440x and all the debris was starkly visible.  SQM 21.97, 600m

 

Just as good was a cold March night in the Roscommon Forrest, Michigan (-15F).  Had the C11, but was most impressed with M31 thru the ST80 finder.  The spirals were so obvious I thought there was something wrong with the scope.  Checked back later and the spirals were still jumping out at me.   Best view I have ever had of M31 in any telescope anywhere.    SQM 21.84, 266m

 

Stay well

 

jd


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#10 Keith Rivich

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 05:12 PM

The best night I have had was a few years ago at our dark sky site near Leakey, Tx. Remember the '97 TSP? It wasn't the darkest night I have ever seen but the seeing and transparency were spectacular. 

 

The night started off pretty cool and humid. As the night progressed the temps dropped to around 20f and frost started forming on all surfaces. From that point on the transparency hit a "10". Larry Mitchell had his 36" out...I had my 25. 

 

Everyone else had turned in as the temps started falling, wimps!, but Larry and I stuck it out and were rewarded with the best night either of us have ever had as the seeing also reach a "10". Steady as a rock. 

 

One of the DSO's we looked at that really took our breath away was the "Egg Nebula". Take a look at the image on the wiki page. Take away the colors and smooth it out a bit and that's what it looked like in the 36". 914x  No fooling. It was amazing. Everything else we looked at was just as amazing. You cherish those nights.


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#11 Sketcher

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 12:38 PM

Just wanted to know when and where did you have your best observations at.

When?  The past 40 years.

 

Where?  A few feet beyond my front or back doors.

 

M31 32 110  1 inch aperture 5 Dec 2018 20x Sketcher   text 1

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#12 Saravanja

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 06:18 PM

Outback Australia. About 60 miles from the closest one pub town. Over 120 miles to the nearest small town. Not the farthest from lights I have been, but I went there regularly.

I have been far further, on land and water, but not with any optical instruments. Telescopes and sailboats dont mix well.


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#13 rhetfield

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 09:52 AM

Boundary Waters bortle 1 area. Only 3 clear nights out of 9. First time out as a beginner. Took until the 3rd night to figure out how to find things. Then was able to see a lot of stuff that I have not seen since.

#14 Starhustler

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 04:12 PM

#1  Chaco Canyon New Mexico,  summer of 2004, incredible skys

 

#2  Okie-tex Star party nearly any year since 2002(except 2018) 

 

#3  1984 Texas Star party, first time I'd ever seen my shadow cast by starlight and first time in truly dark skies and Omega Centarus was OMG stunning

 

Steve


Edited by Starhustler, 12 April 2020 - 04:14 PM.

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#15 Starman1

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 05:35 PM

Just wanted to know when and where did you have your best observations at.

Mine was my first trip at a bortle 3 sky around mid summer,the best skies that i've seen just by the amount of visible stars.

My 2nd best would be a trip to a bortle one/two sky,there were less stars but the amount of detail of the milky ways center was breath taking.

Also why was it that a bortle 3 produced more stars then a 1 ? I've been to the bortle 3 sky about 9 times and the first one was the best out of all of them,while still observing at the same location ?

I'm guessing my first trip i had perfect 10/10 skies for that view and probably was very lucky on that,nothing else has compared since aside from the 1,two unique experiences.

You had superior transparency at the brighter site, which explained the difference in the number of visible stars.

Also, the time of year has a lot to do with that--there are more bright stars WEST of the galactic bulge than there are EAST of it,

and distinctly more bright stars in the winter evening than the Fall evening.

 

I've experienced pristine skies many times over the years, but the all-time best was one night when I stayed in a cabin up on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona in the mid-'80s.

That night was the most transparent and incredible night of my life.  I was sorry it was only for one night, because seeing mag.6 stars on the horizon was a first for me.

The sky was magnificent.

I've seen nights at high altitude that were very similar about a dozen times since--once at Mt.Pinos in SoCal, once in the Chiricahua Mtns of SW Arizona, once in northern Death Valley,

once in central Nevada in northern Nye County, once at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, once near Abiquiú New Mexico, once a hundred miles south of Ensenada in the Baja, once near Sunset Crater north of Flagstaff, AZ, once in central Utah on my way back from Chicago, and a few other times at various places in the southwest.  What made them all similar was astounding transparency, and faint stars down to the horizon.

 

You know when it's incredible, because after you are completely dark adapted and the sky no longer appears black or even charcoal grey, the sky is still magnificent.  The main stars in constellations appear almost painfully bright instead of subdued, and it's almost impossible to count the stars in areas as large as the Great Square of Pegasus.


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#16 Andrekp

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Posted 15 April 2020 - 10:00 PM

I live in that giant light cloud that is SE Florida.  There is no escape.  
 

when I was young, I went with a group out into the Everglades to dark sky, but the mosquitoes were so thick you could walk on the swarm 6 feet above the ground.  Seriously.  It made those old Off commercials look silly.  
 

so I watch the sky from my back yard under the lit skies of the city.  I don’t know anything about the “Bortle” thing, but I imagine I’m pretty far into the bad end of it, light-wise.  However, there is more to seeing that dark skies.  On good nights I can cleanly split .5” doubles with a 6 inch scope.  I run out of Virgo cluster after a few galaxies, but when my skies are steady, they are STEADY.  You have to take what you can get in this game.  You can’t think that YOU get to decide all the time.

 

Andre


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#17 sunnyday

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Posted 15 April 2020 - 10:13 PM

1- mauna kea, hawaii. 1990
2- alert canada.1985
3- mediterranean sea. 2011


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#18 j.gardavsky

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Posted 16 April 2020 - 09:27 AM

When it is about rating, then:

 

1. (The first absolutely best): In a desert in Africa

2. (The second best, fantastic): Close to Mt. Ventoux in Provence

3. (The third best, amazing): Dolomiti Mountains close to the Fanas

...

...

(N). (very good): Airfield Lillinghof, 25 minutes to drive from my home

(N+1).  Our backyard

 

JG


Edited by j.gardavsky, 16 April 2020 - 09:27 AM.

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#19 kfiscus

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 03:46 PM

Nebraska Star Party each year since 2013.



#20 PKDfan

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Posted 17 April 2020 - 11:03 PM

Hi all, the finest skies in western Canada is at a place called Mt. Kobau in B.C. near the US. border. Its nearly a mile high in desert skies where the Mt. Kobau star party is held that is very popular. These skies are usually very dark with excellent transparency. Can see M 33 with the naked eye with obvious spiral arms. Usually can see the milky way border very near Polaris. I'm planning an extended visit during late summer to do an extensive review of my new evostar 100ed and my eqm-35pro GEM. There is also a very nice sky at the Stein valley region also in B.C., no lights anywhere so with my good eyesight the night is so filled with stars I got completely lost. Such a revelation after too many nights of seeing only first and second magnitude stars in the city. Cannot wait to test my frac under such great skies on Mt. Kobau.

CS & GS
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#21 REC

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 02:21 PM

The two best dark skies I have ever seen where on trips, no scopes at Bryce Canyon and in the middle of nowhere in central Nevada. So many stars I could hardly make out the constellation lines!

 

That spoiled me as I'm in a red zone from where I live and can see down to a mag.5 star a few times a year, rare nights.



#22 Cpk133

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Posted 18 April 2020 - 05:39 PM

I'm going to throw a curveball and say best skies ever were at twilight about 4 years ago in my suburban back yard. Excellent clarity and seeing conditions and Mars was stunning.  As far as dark skies go, Northern MI late Aug after a cold front moved through and left super clear, cool dry conditions and it just happened to be new moon.  That was the night that got me hooked on astronomy after a long hiatus.  


Edited by Cpk133, 18 April 2020 - 05:40 PM.


#23 jjbag

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 06:23 AM

My last trip to Hawaii, 

 

Kekeha Kauai HI,  every night didn't matter what I viewed I had brought a Meade ETX 60 with me on that trip, it was fantastic. Then I went to the big island but after a few days it died, gears or something (bought it cheap second hand) so I met a nice person on here (Don) who I was able to give the broken Etx so they could fix and give/use it for outreach. Then I went up Mauna Kea didn't have my own telescope, but jut the naked eye visual OMG is all i'll ever say.. nothing it like it. 

 

JJ




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