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Pacific NW Eterna Thread Pt 8

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#1 SteveG

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Posted 18 June 2020 - 07:04 PM

Hi all. I decided to start a fresh thread for us PNW'ers.

 

Oddly, the Covid thing has brought me back to my old hobbies, as I had to close down my sound company. So I plan on doing a lot of astronomy viewing this year (and flying). Obviously no star parties until next year, and Mike is no longer hosting Goldendale, so I'm looking for cool new places to observe.

 

Tonight is looking excellent, so I'm heading up to Rattlesnake Trail Head to see if I can set up without any bright lights near by. I used to go up there all the time, but the last time I was there the light was on full-time. Not sure if I can even park there as they don't want people going up the ridge.

 

So in closing, please post your favorite Seattle/Tacoma area viewing site. I typically am good for a 45 min to 1 hour drive, provided the viewing and conditions are descent.


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#2 ukarmy04

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 11:39 PM

Hey Steve, I'm relatively new to the Seattle area and have mostly been imaging from my rooftop in West Seattle. I haven't had the opportunity to make it out to Rattlesnake Trail Head for a night of imaging yet, but I'm curious to see what your experience was last night. Any luck with the light and/or parking situation?



#3 SteveRosenow

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Posted 22 June 2020 - 02:47 AM

Hi all. I decided to start a fresh thread for us PNW'ers.

 

Oddly, the Covid thing has brought me back to my old hobbies, as I had to close down my sound company. So I plan on doing a lot of astronomy viewing this year (and flying). Obviously no star parties until next year, and Mike is no longer hosting Goldendale, so I'm looking for cool new places to observe.

 

Tonight is looking excellent, so I'm heading up to Rattlesnake Trail Head to see if I can set up without any bright lights near by. I used to go up there all the time, but the last time I was there the light was on full-time. Not sure if I can even park there as they don't want people going up the ridge.

 

So in closing, please post your favorite Seattle/Tacoma area viewing site. I typically am good for a 45 min to 1 hour drive, provided the viewing and conditions are descent.

frown.gif 

That's unfortunate about P'land/Goldendale. 

I had been discussing going down there sometime this year with my current girlfriend back before Covid-19 hit and had hoped Mike still owned it (I remember him talking in the last P'Land thread that if the land didn't sell there was a chance he'd host again... Was sorta hoping that was the case!)

Anyhoo... We've been together for a while now and ironically she is former friends with my ex-wife (same ex I went down to Pixie land with in 2015). We talked about the trips I made in 2014 and 2015, and showed her the photos I took down there on those two trips, After she saw them, she was really looking forward to experiencing Pixie land.

It especially sucks because I also moved to a new place that has a view of the southern sky that is blocked worse than the view I had before (at least until the local timber company clears off the greenbelt behind our house), and I just got a brand new -- well, new to me, anyways! -- 12-inch Meade LX200 GPS unit I've been dying to shoot the Lagoon, Trifid, Omega and Eagle Nebulas with.

Hopefully we can all find a suitable spot to set up in... I miss the gang down there and those Saturday potlucks!


Edited by SteveRosenow, 22 June 2020 - 03:20 AM.

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#4 SteveRosenow

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Posted 22 June 2020 - 03:18 AM

OH.. And about my fave viewing site?
 

I wish I had one here that I can set up in. There used to be a huge tract of cleared-off land about a couple acres in size, at the back of a side road off of Mason Lake Road out here in Shelton that had excellent dark sky viewing. Unfortunately, in the last year and a half or so, several houses have sprang up on that side road and all have obnoxious outdoor lighting. And the lake my girlfriend and I moved out to last October, is a gated community south of Shelton. It has an excellent public swimming area with a wide spot to set up scopes although doing so requires quite a bit of a haul of gear down a steep, paved walkway. 

A while back, my girlfriend and I stumbled upon a wide spot on the way up to Mowich Lake (was unable to access the lake and its parking area due to a Covid-19 NPS closure), that looks like a great spot to set up a scope. Sometime soon I hope to check it out.



#5 SteveG

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Posted 22 June 2020 - 01:14 PM

Hey Steve, I'm relatively new to the Seattle area and have mostly been imaging from my rooftop in West Seattle. I haven't had the opportunity to make it out to Rattlesnake Trail Head for a night of imaging yet, but I'm curious to see what your experience was last night. Any luck with the light and/or parking situation?

Sadly it was a total wash. I drove out to Rattlesnake, but new cement blocking devices are on both sides of the short road leading to the trailhead, and the light at the gate is still on. It really looks like they are discouraging people from parking there after hours (dusk). In addition, high clouds rolled in. 

 

I decided to drive a little further out on 90, and I took an exit just past the one for Rattlesnake. The road wound around going further east, and there were a ton of trucks and cars parked there for overnight sleeping. The road then ran under the freeway, and stopped at another trailhead. I parked there waiting til it got dark, which is like 11pm right now. This spot looked promising for straight up viewing, but not so clear looking south. I’m going to drive out there again next month, but right now we just don’t have enough “dark”.



#6 RedshiftRob

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Posted 22 June 2020 - 01:47 PM

That sounds a lot like the dead-end I had observed a few times at many years ago (large tower at the edge of the parking lot?)   Exit 38 off I90, going east you wander along the edge of a park.  Westbound it drops you right there.   Last time I was there was before the formal trailhead and parking lot.  IIRC, it wasn't too bad.  No great horizon views, but a good view above and relatively dark skies.

 

https://www.google.c...N 121°37'56.7"W

 

-Stephen


Edited by RedshiftRob, 22 June 2020 - 01:56 PM.


#7 SteveG

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Posted 22 June 2020 - 05:52 PM

That sounds a lot like the dead-end I had observed a few times at many years ago (large tower at the edge of the parking lot?)   Exit 38 off I90, going east you wander along the edge of a park.  Westbound it drops you right there.   Last time I was there was before the formal trailhead and parking lot.  IIRC, it wasn't too bad.  No great horizon views, but a good view above and relatively dark skies.

 

https://www.google.c...N 121°37'56.7"W

 

-Stephen

Yes, that's it - and an update!

 

The road continues past a gate and up the mountain to the Fire Training Academy. At the entrance to the academy there is a large clearing. I just called the academy and talked with a very nice lady who said we could drive up there and view all we want. She said it would be pitch-black dark! 

 

She also said they have another large clearing to the north but inside the campus, we would need permission to use this but she said it would probably be possible to arrange. For now, I want to see the area at the entrance.

 

Here is the address - I'm thinking about going up there tonight:

 

50810 Grouse Ridge Rd, North Bend, WA


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#8 RedshiftRob

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 12:00 AM

Wow!  I'm very anxious to hear what you find.     May have to make a run up there later this week if the weather holds...

 

-Stephen



#9 SteveG

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 10:42 AM

Too tired last night. Might go tonight. Not dark until 11 pm!



#10 SteveG

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 07:46 PM

New plan, weather looks good for Friday night, and I can stay up all night if I need to. I'll report back here.


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#11 PNW

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 12:45 AM

I'm eavesdropping in on this from the San Juans. Pixieland was my first and only star party. My kind of place. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for sites in Whatcom and Skagit. So far it's just the front yard. Shrubs block the Bellingham Light dome. My friend has 5 acres with horses and an unobstructed view down Rosario Strait to Anacortes. Nice place, but not much room for a lot of scopes. As this covid thing dies down, I might talk to a farmer with similar views....Barry


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#12 The Dobfather

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 12:00 AM

Any updates on good spots for viewing around Seattle? I was thinking of maybe driving out to the mountains near Cle Elum to get a good dark sky but a closer drive would be nice. :) 


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#13 square_peg

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 06:28 AM

Levdansky Park in Hobart/Ravensdale has a restricted field due to trees but it's fairly dark for close to town.



#14 square_peg

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 06:29 AM

Just finished viewing the comet. It's quite the show! Very easy naked eye object. Absolutely stunning i my 15x70s. Best viewed between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m.


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#15 SteveG

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 05:24 PM

Any updates on good spots for viewing around Seattle? I was thinking of maybe driving out to the mountains near Cle Elum to get a good dark sky but a closer drive would be nice. smile.gif

I just visited my newly found site last night, and happy to report it's pretty darn good!

 

As previously mentioned, I called the Fire Academy and received permission to drive right up to their entrance gate, and observe in a clearing just before the gate - here:

https://goo.gl/maps/8myyidVSWRdqgYce9

 

After the long, windy drive up, and yes it is uphill (my ears were popping), I finally arrived at about 11 pm. One bummer is that the entrance gate has lights, but this clearing was just around the corner which kept the area dark. I was a little nervous being up there by myself, so the lights were comforting. Also, they are in the direction of the city, so it's brighter looking that way regardless.

 

I set up in the gravel clearing just off the road, and had excellent views at Zenith and down fairly low to the South and East. There were a couple of trees sticking up, but I was able to view the planets, and the top portion of Sagittarius was visible. Seeing was iffy at first, but after my 10" mirror cooled down to ambient, seeing became pretty good. It's not fully dark-sky, as found in central WA, but not bad either. I hunted down some faint planetary's, and viewed the bright nebula in Cygnus and Lyra. The Veil was there, but just barely. An O3 filter really brought it to life. I later started noticing the glow from the rising moon to the east, so I finished up by viewing a few more objects at zenith.

 

By about 1 am I was getting tired, and moved my scope to get a better view of the planets. Jupiter looked pretty good - I haven't had a good view it quite a few years so last night was pretty good, especially considering my scope was almost horizontal. I moved to Saturn next, which was a little higher, and still climbing. I was simply stunned at the excellent view of Saturn!  It was incredibly sharp and detailed during many moments of good seeing. The cool mountain air does much better than the hot asphalt rooftops in my neighborhood. I typically can't even see the planets from my house until they are long past opposition. When I finally arrived home at 2:30 am they were just coming out from behind the trees on my block.

 

So for dark sky viewing this is the best I've found within 1 hour of my home in Woodinville. I'm sure Cle Elum is better, but twice the drive over the pass. My next goal is to find a local place to view planets, as I really can't see much from my house. 

 

If anyone wants to get together for the next new Moon weekend be sure and post here. There's a lot of room in that clearing.


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#16 RedshiftRob

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 05:44 PM

Steve,  Thanks for the report.  I'm certainly interested in heading up that direction next new moon.   I have a week of vacation coming up (20th to 25th, orignally planned for OSP), so may even try a weeknight trip up there...

 

-Stephen


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#17 astronomania

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 07:55 PM

My view of comet NEOWISE.IMG_6137 (2)c.jpg


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#18 SteveG

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 03:21 PM

Steve,  Thanks for the report.  I'm certainly interested in heading up that direction next new moon.   I have a week of vacation coming up (20th to 25th, orignally planned for OSP), so may even try a weeknight trip up there...

 

-Stephen

If you went up let us know how it went. I saw a lot of white haze in the sky last night, so I decided to stay home. The Mai Tai I had didn't help, LOL.



#19 RedshiftRob

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 08:03 PM

Yes, we did head up there and had a pretty good night..    A few disclaimers: This was the first non-backyard viewing through the new ES16 and it's been many years since I've been to a site that wasn't either in my backyard (Mill Creek) or at a dark sky site. (OSP,ect..), so comparisons are pretty tough.

 

Next time I'll need to park in between the FTA gate and the scope, as that extra light from their gate probably didn't let us get fully dark adapted.  We had two trucks cruise by after dark, so that also had an effect.  Never got very cold, but wore a long sleeve to keep the mosquitoes from having a feast...

 

I didn't notice any haze as the planets were about as good as can be expected for as low as they were.  We packed up at about midnight so I don't think we saw the darkest part of the night.

 

We got in about a dozen or so objects and all were pretty good.  I didn't look for anything real tough, so hard to get a limiting magnitude.  I didn't see NGC6207 that is just off M13, so around 11.5 may have been the limit, but M13 looked pretty good.

 

NGC5907 5985 and it's neighbor NGC5982 in Draco we're the dimmest that I went after, both were visible, but just barely.  M101 was also visible, but mostly jsut the central part.

 

The Veil, Ring, Dumbbell and Swan were all easily seen and looked pretty good. We also checked out a few other Globs (M92/M56) that also gave some pretty good views.  M51 was too far down in the glow to get a good view, but was visible.

 

We did catch the comet just before it dived into the trees.  Looked great through the 16, and decent through binos, but certainly dimmer than what we saw from Mukilteo Beach last week.

 

The North "horizon" is pretty high, just barely below Polaris, so Andromeda/Cassiopea/Pegasus hadn't come out before we packed up.  Southward we look through the tree branches at Jupiter/Saturn.  Low west was pretty gone from the light of the gate.

 

I was expecting the site to be a bit higher in elevaton, GPS read 1582ft, but we'll definitely return there.  Once the nights start to get longer and it gets darker earlier, I think it could be a real nice nearby site, even with the high horizons.  As low as it is, may be snow free late into the year.  I haven't been to the Rattlesnake site with SAS yet, so can't compare...

 

-Stephen.


Edited by RedshiftRob, 21 July 2020 - 08:58 PM.


#20 SteveG

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 02:43 PM

Yes, we did head up there and had a pretty good night..    A few disclaimers: This was the first non-backyard viewing through the new ES16 and it's been many years since I've been to a site that wasn't either in my backyard (Mill Creek) or at a dark sky site. (OSP,ect..), so comparisons are pretty tough.

 

Next time I'll need to park in between the FTA gate and the scope, as that extra light from their gate probably didn't let us get fully dark adapted.  We had two trucks cruise by after dark, so that also had an effect.  Never got very cold, but wore a long sleeve to keep the mosquitoes from having a feast...

 

I didn't notice any haze as the planets were about as good as can be expected for as low as they were.  We packed up at about midnight so I don't think we saw the darkest part of the night.

 

We got in about a dozen or so objects and all were pretty good.  I didn't look for anything real tough, so hard to get a limiting magnitude.  I didn't see NGC6207 that is just off M13, so around 11.5 may have been the limit, but M13 looked pretty good.

 

NGC5907 5985 and it's neighbor NGC5982 in Draco we're the dimmest that I went after, both were visible, but just barely.  M101 was also visible, but mostly jsut the central part.

 

The Veil, Ring, Dumbbell and Swan were all easily seen and looked pretty good. We also checked out a few other Globs (M92/M56) that also gave some pretty good views.  M51 was too far down in the glow to get a good view, but was visible.

 

We did catch the comet just before it dived into the trees.  Looked great through the 16, and decent through binos, but certainly dimmer than what we saw from Mukilteo Beach last week.

 

The North "horizon" is pretty high, just barely below Polaris, so Andromeda/Cassiopea/Pegasus hadn't come out before we packed up.  Southward we look through the tree branches at Jupiter/Saturn.  Low west was pretty gone from the light of the gate.

 

I was expecting the site to be a bit higher in elevaton, GPS read 1582ft, but we'll definitely return there.  Once the nights start to get longer and it gets darker earlier, I think it could be a real nice nearby site, even with the high horizons.  As low as it is, may be snow free late into the year.  I haven't been to the Rattlesnake site with SAS yet, so can't compare...

 

-Stephen.

It blows away Rattlesnake, where I’ve been going for years.

 

Good report! I’m surprised you had visitors. FWIW, that dim galaxy Near M13 showed itself to me when I was up there over a week ago, and that was through a 10”.



#21 RedshiftRob

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Posted 22 July 2020 - 02:59 PM

It blows away Rattlesnake, where I’ve been going for years.

 

Good report! I’m surprised you had visitors. FWIW, that dim galaxy Near M13 showed itself to me when I was up there over a week ago, and that was through a 10”.

I'm guessing being a Monday, there were people there for training, must have overnight barracks.  One truck went out and came back an hour later, the others were inbound to the FTA...  

 

For n6207, after checking the charts when I got home I realized I was looking on the wrong side fo M13, so was probably visible, just didn't look hard enough or in the right spot...


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#22 SteveG

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Posted 25 July 2020 - 05:43 PM

I'm heading up to the Fire Training site tonight if anyone is interested in going.



#23 SteveG

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:19 PM

I spent a couple of hours there last night. Didn't see anyone, except a large buck with huge horns was running up the road right in front of my as I approached the gate!

 

Seeing was very much worse than a couple weeks ago. I wasn't sure if it was my mirror cooling down or seeing, but after a couple hours I packed it in. Low-power Milky Way views were only okay, and the planets were pretty mushy. There was still a good amount of ambient light in the sky as well, leaving things a little washed out. Right when I arrived and set up, the ISS flew overhead. I tracked it for a few seconds, and that was probably the coolest thing I saw all night.


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#24 RedshiftRob

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 11:46 PM

Bummer the skies didn't cooperate last night.   It certainly looked promising.  We just lounged in chairs on the back deck and watched the satellites go by... 


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#25 bluedandelion

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Posted 29 July 2020 - 03:50 PM

Hi all,

 

I did not know part 8 of this thread was live! Was over at part 7 this morning. Hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.

 

Here's Comet NEOWISE from Sunrise Point taken on July 20. [ I wouldn't go there except for quick peeks. The constant stream of headlights was very distracting.]

 

Comet NEOWISE

Large version here with imaging details.

 

Ajay

 

 


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