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Light Pollution- How far away is 'needed'?

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#1 rk2k2

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 02:38 PM

I've spent the last 3 years imaging from the end of my driveway, no more than 10' from the street.  I don't feel comfortable having an expensive (to me) setup unattended for 3 hours while images are being captured (so I rarely have).  Tired of obstructions from trees and power lines. It's time to move (I'm retired).

 

So I've been looking for something in Bortle 2 areas.  For that, I've found parcel sizes to mostly be 10 acres and higher.  Of course I don't want to be 50 miles away in the 'middle of nowhere'.  What I have found, for that there is always a small town (100 to 1000 pop.)  So I select properties, based on various light pollution maps, outside the town a ways that according to the light pollution maps, IS in Bortle 2.

 

Yes, I will be doing a road trip to actually see for myself (who knows, there could be a 'neighbor' within a 1000' or so that doesn't care about light pollution)

 

Being that these properties are 1000 miles away, and the potential properties themselves may be separated by a few hundred miles, I need an idea how to screen where I am going to go.  Should I just trust the light pollution maps that show a property to be in the 2 zone regardless of distance from 'town' (the light pollution center).  Or should I consider some 'formula' that suggests something like stay at least 5 miles from a town of 100, 20 miles from populations of 1000, 50 miles from population of 10,000?

 

 



#2 chrysalis

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 02:53 PM

Can't tell you what to do, but I've moved several times. Here are my considerations:

 

1) Weather typical for area - clear days/nights, humidity, rainfall,snowfall, jet stream - everything that affects seeing.

2) Direction of closest light dome - I've always favored as little LP to my SOUTH as possible. This may not be a real concern for you if you can get to Bortle 2 skies within a few miles of a population center, which it seems you are targeting small thus limited. My best home skies were in Jeffersonville VT and in (actually pretty far outside) Bishop GA at Bortle 4.

3) Elevation - higher can be better (best skies I ever was in - even inside the town! - were at 8000 feet in Angel Fire NM, within quick driving distance of Bortle 1-2 skies). ALSO - local topography - you do NOT want to be down in a bowl, where you lose several degrees of horizon - believe me :)

4) Non-astronomy: what amenities are near enough to drive to without starting to hate it? Is 10 miles far enough? Is 50 miles too far? Do you have absolutely reliable self-transportation? Stores, grocery, entertainment, things to do - often not properly taken into account ;) . Property itself - city water, well, trucked in? Wildlife? Internet, garbage disposal, etc. Safety of area in the environs (wildlife and all denizens). Cost and ability to maintain size of property chosen.

 

Etc.


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#3 TOMDEY

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 03:15 PM

If you intend to move and live out your years there, the list of considerations gets pretty long. We discuss that frequently, most often in the Observatories Forum; nearly all people taking the plunge, include an observatory, etc. on the list. So, the home and the dome burgeon the ~Needs~ list rather explosively >>>

 

>darkness

>seeing

>building codes

>safety, police, fire, ambulance, hospital

>electricity (grid)

>water (municipal, well, or trucked in)

>wind farms (not)

>shopping

>expressway (not too close or too far)

>demographics, neighborliness

 

The list just goes on and on. Some of those you can research on-line... but others need a personal visit aka your ~road trip~

 

The most-overlooked one is (the possibility/probability) of future major development. It's not uncommon (maybe even most common?) for an otherwise ideal site to get inundated with business and housing developments, within a couple years or decades from moving there. When I picked my place, I asked the realtor to seek ~remote, depressed rural... with no indication of further development... and decreasing population~. That was forty years ago, and things are still the same... and nice!   

 

If you pick five or ten candidates, and visit all of them, staying a week or so at each - to observe... you will probably rule out most of them, based on things you could have only discovered by being there.    Tom


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#4 rk2k2

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 04:13 PM

Can't tell you what to do, but I've moved several times. Here are my considerations:

 

1) Weather typical for area - clear days/nights, humidity, rainfall,snowfall, jet stream - everything that affects seeing.

2) Direction of closest light dome - I've always favored as little LP to my SOUTH as possible. This may not be a real concern for you if you can get to Bortle 2 skies within a few miles of a population center, which it seems you are targeting small thus limited. My best home skies were in Jeffersonville VT and in (actually pretty far outside) Bishop GA at Bortle 4.

3) Elevation - higher can be better (best skies I ever was in - even inside the town! - were at 8000 feet in Angel Fire NM, within quick driving distance of Bortle 1-2 skies). ALSO - local topography - you do NOT want to be down in a bowl, where you lose several degrees of horizon - believe me smile.gif

4) Non-astronomy: what amenities are near enough to drive to without starting to hate it? Is 10 miles far enough? Is 50 miles too far? Do you have absolutely reliable self-transportation? Stores, grocery, entertainment, things to do - often not properly taken into account wink.gif . Property itself - city water, well, trucked in? Wildlife? Internet, garbage disposal, etc. Safety of area in the environs (wildlife and all denizens). Cost and ability to maintain size of property chosen.

 

Etc.

You bring up some good points, most which Ive been thinking of, but particularly the elevation factor- I DIDN'T want to go much higher than 5000', but you bringing up the seeing factor, I may re-evaluate (but I doubt at 7000' I can avoid having LOTS of snow which is why I maxed at 5000).

 

I was looking to TX (for eclipse 2024) as my daughter lives in Austin but property taxes on most were way to high, so I moved the target West to the AZ-NM border.  Started looking ideal until I thought about the 'safety issue' you bring up.  Looking at all the open sage brush areas I started thinking rattlesnakes and scorpions!

 

Aside from astrophotography/ nature photography being about my only hobby, thinking of NM I realized I do have one other- cooking, specifically Hatch green chiles.  I usually have 25 to 50 lbs shipped fresh each year.  That area would be a 3 hour drive but I thought maybe some place just outside Hatch.  Or a place in between and I found maybe MY perfect place (45 minutes from Hatch)- Deming, NM.  2010 population was just under 15,000 and another point TOMDEY brought up that I just found out- 2019 projected pop is 1000 less.   Anyway, according to what I can figure from the light pollution maps, some of the properties showing up on Zillow still fall in at class 2

 

Right now Deming is 106- but we'll still be hitting 100 today here so to me, no biggie.

 

But the snakes ... smile.gif


Edited by rk2k2, 11 July 2020 - 04:15 PM.

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#5 spereira

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 04:30 PM

Moving to Light Pollution, for a better fit.

 

smp


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#6 rk2k2

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 04:31 PM

If you intend to move and live out your years there, the list of considerations gets pretty long. We discuss that frequently, most often in the Observatories Forum; nearly all people taking the plunge, include an observatory, etc. on the list. So, the home and the dome burgeon the ~Needs~ list rather explosively >>>

 

>darkness

>seeing

>building codes

>safety, police, fire, ambulance, hospital

>electricity (grid)

>water (municipal, well, or trucked in)

>wind farms (not)

>shopping

>expressway (not too close or too far)

>demographics, neighborliness

 

The list just goes on and on. Some of those you can research on-line... but others need a personal visit aka your ~road trip~

 

The most-overlooked one is (the possibility/probability) of future major development. It's not uncommon (maybe even most common?) for an otherwise ideal site to get inundated with business and housing developments, within a couple years or decades from moving there. When I picked my place, I asked the realtor to seek ~remote, depressed rural... with no indication of further development... and decreasing population~. That was forty years ago, and things are still the same... and nice! 

 

If you pick five or ten candidates, and visit all of them, staying a week or so at each - to observe... you will probably rule out most of them, based on things you could have only discovered by being there.    Tom

You also bring up some great points- ONE I did not even think about- TRASH!  Anyway, the ONE property I was hung up on:

 

https://www.zillow.c...080424126_zpid/

 

But I do not need or want 3000 sq ft or 25 acres, and aside from it being $200,000 more than I care to pay, it seems perfect- 10 miles from town and the interstate, and ****, it looks 'bitchin'!



#7 rk2k2

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 04:34 PM

Thanks, I didn't even realize there was a light pollution category- should have looked more closely.

 

Moving to Light Pollution, for a better fit.

 

smp

 



#8 TOMDEY

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 08:11 PM

You also bring up some great points- ONE I did not even think about- TRASH!  Anyway, the ONE property I was hung up on:

 

https://www.zillow.c...080424126_zpid/

 

But I do not need or want 3000 sq ft or 25 acres, and aside from it being $200,000 more than I care to pay, it seems perfect- 10 miles from town and the interstate, and ****, it looks 'bitchin'!

Woo Hoo, that looks awesome! Highly-Personalized, as they have it shown... but tastefully so. Almost to the point of asking what they might leave and what they would take. Easy to imagine just moving in, building the observatory... and enjoying retirement. The tractors and Rock-Hound seem near essential for maintenance... reminds me of the seven acres of grass I must mow here.

 

Actually... I just thought of one more. It's the difficult to anticipate or predict... neighborly neighbors. We're rural here, most places few acres to ten times that (ours is 16 of fields, woods streams and ponds). The theme is relaxed rural libertarianish conservative. Which is friendly, live and let live, help others, socialize but not impose. A blend of hard-working farmers, Amish, working and retired business people. The locals don't impose their views or standards on others; everyone benefits.    Tom

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#9 rk2k2

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 12:06 AM

Woo Hoo, that looks awesome! Highly-Personalized, as they have it shown... but tastefully so. Almost to the point of asking what they might leave and what they would take. Easy to imagine just moving in, building the observatory... and enjoying retirement. The tractors and Rock-Hound seem near essential for maintenance... reminds me of the seven acres of grass I must mow here.

 

Actually... I just thought of one more. It's the difficult to anticipate or predict... neighborly neighbors. We're rural here, most places few acres to ten times that (ours is 16 of fields, woods streams and ponds). The theme is relaxed rural libertarianish conservative. Which is friendly, live and let live, help others, socialize but not impose. A blend of hard-working farmers, Amish, working and retired business people. The locals don't impose their views or standards on others; everyone benefits.    Tom

Ahhh, (Homer voice) ... GREEEEN!  I LOVE that pic!  Any of the small parcels have a spot like your observatory has and would one be available?  Of course, snow and humidity .. snakes ...snow and humidity ... I'd probably go with the snakes but that GREEN is so tempting!

 

Got many snakes?  I had to do a search on snakes and scorpions in NM, and what do I first get- "Warnings about 'snake season' starting.  and of course the deadly snakes they have- besides lots of Rattlers, CORAL snakes.  Oh and the 'most don't die but it's not ureasonable to find yourself with $100,000 + in medical bills. 

 

EDIT: Interesting area (I just zillowed it)  First house, be it build in '81, was in my price range.  HMMMM.  Another thing is, I have a 'housemate' that's been renting from me for 10 years.  He's got LOTS of stuff he's accumulated, sort of taking over parts of the house.  And I only charge him $550/ mo- everything included.  He just mentioned he won't be ready to retire for 5 years so I gather he's dreading the thought of having to move.  Good friends though we've had some heated 'discussions' (Me being conservative/ libertarian and he being a typical CA liberal)  He doesn't know what he wants to do once retired, perhaps, him being from New York, maybe we can work something out?


Edited by rk2k2, 12 July 2020 - 12:19 AM.


#10 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 05:14 AM

I do not need or want 3000 sq ft or 25 acres ...


An area where 25 acres is considered a large parcel is way too densely populated.

25 acres is 1,000 feet by 1,000 feet, meaning that if your house is in the center, you could have a neighbor just 500 feet away. A single bright light 500 feet away is a major problem.



#11 bthrel

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 06:21 AM

An area where 25 acres is considered a large parcel is way too densely populated.

25 acres is 1,000 feet by 1,000 feet, meaning that if your house is in the center, you could have a neighbor just 500 feet away. A single bright light 500 feet away is a major problem.

Umm a 1 acre square lot is approx 210ft each side so 25 acre square parcel is 5250ft x 5250ft so if you are in the middle. its a little more that 500 feet away.

 

I could be wrong, since I googled it..lol.. But I do live on a 1 acre lot and its pretty close to the 210



#12 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 09:17 AM

Umm a 1 acre square lot is approx 210ft each side so 25 acre square parcel is 5250ft x 5250ft so if you are in the middle. its a little more that 500 feet away.

 

I could be wrong, since I googled it..lol.. But I do live on a 1 acre lot and its pretty close to the 210

You're missing a square root in there. Acres are a measure of area, not linear distance. A 1-acre square is indeed just about 210 feet on edge. A 25-acre square can be broken down into 25 acre parcels, arranged in a 5x5 array. So a 25-acre square is 5x210 = 1050 feet on edge.

 

There are 640 acres per square mile. So a square 640-acre parcel is one mile, or 5,280 feet, on edge.

 

I revise my original statement, by the way. Being 500 feet from a standard 100-watt light bulb is a major problem; being 500 feet from a genuinely bright light is total disaster. To protect yourself against genuinely bright lights, you would need at least one square mile (640 acres), and preferably more.


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#13 bthrel

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 09:25 AM

Duh.. you are so right Tony.. slaps hand to forehead ... very few parcels are square around here anyway... many are large tracts of pastures and/or woods ... ( Im 45 miles WSW of Nashville)



#14 rk2k2

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 01:34 PM

An area where 25 acres is considered a large parcel is way too densely populated.

25 acres is 1,000 feet by 1,000 feet, meaning that if your house is in the center, you could have a neighbor just 500 feet away. A single bright light 500 feet away is a major problem.

Thanks for the comment on  the bright light at 500'.  I'm in a Bortles 3/4 area, any neighbors lights are more or less obstructed by trees so I can't really say how much my seeing would be impacted buy a 100 watt light.  I have 2 7 watt equivalent LED bulbs on my garage that I sort of detect a slight influence on seeing when on vs off ( I did a test early on and for imaging between the two, no difference).

 

I think you've made an incorrect conclusion.  No one (me) said 25 acres is considered a large parcel, I said *I* personally don't want 25 acres.  Yes, if al parcels in say a 10 mile by 10 mile area were 25 acres each, AND the area were developed to a significant degree AND growing I might be thinking differently about that 25 acres being too much for me- and probably look elsewhere.

 

Without going into explanation, I'd almost guarantee this area, between 10 and 20 miles south of a population center of 14,000, is not too densely populated- though some are parcels have homes it's mostly vacant land.  And off the top of my head, I really don't think a few bright  lights spread across a 1 mile stretch are going to change a class 2 area to a class 3.  Maybe I'm wrong but I guess I'd find out when I visited before buying.



#15 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 02:00 PM

I really don't think a few bright  lights spread across a 1 mile stretch are going to change a class 2 area to a class 3.


Let's put it this way. A few 100W light bulbs spread out over a mile aren't going to increase the skyglow significantly. But if they are in direct view, and if you are looking at an object in that sector of the sky, they will most definitely wreak havoc on your dark adaptation.

Bortle-2 skies are seriously dark. If I'm going to go to the trouble of traveling to a site that's potentially Bortle Class 2 on a good night, I certainly don't want any directly visible lights whatsoever from my observing site. After all, even viewing Venus directly (without optical aid) harms your dark adaptation significantly at a dark site.


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#16 rk2k2

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 02:24 PM

Let's put it this way. A few 100W light bulbs spread out over a mile aren't going to increase the skyglow significantly. But if they are in direct view, and if you are looking at an object in that sector of the sky, they will most definitely wreak havoc on your dark adaptation.

Bortle-2 skies are seriously dark. If I'm going to go to the trouble of traveling to a site that's potentially Bortle Class 2 on a good night, I certainly don't want any directly visible lights whatsoever from my observing site. After all, even viewing Venus directly (without optical aid) harms your dark adaptation significantly at a dark site.

All irrelevant (for me) at this point.  I don't know which light pollution map I was using, but TODAY I used the lightpollutionmap.info indicates the area as class 3 (not 2).  Yesterday SOME map was placing the area 10 - 20 miles south of Deming NM as class 2.  So for now, I'm back to the area around Rodeo, NM which has a light pollution ordinance along with a neighboring town in AZ.

 

But even still, being 'spoiled' as I am with regard to # of clear nights a year I have, I may scrap the whole idea.  After honing down to a few different areas, WEATHER (clear nights) is the factor.  I should have known from correspondence with a AZ resident, they have a 'monsoon' season which duh, includes the area in NM that I'm considering.
 



#17 VNA

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 03:21 PM

Hello,

My location is far from ideal, although 29 years ago in the winter I coud see the milky way relatively well. My location is behind costal hills  behind  Berkeley, today the  sky is so polluted with too many lights including my neighbor lighting his trees upward!

In any case the seing is terrible adding the humidity from the Pacific, lights from San Francisco and many suburbs!

 

No way I will move, when retired you don't want to be far from a medical center.

Going far away from light is truly difficult, even from the Grand Canyon national park, there is plenty light pollution from L.A.

So you do with what you have and make the best of it, still enjoying astronomy.

 

John Dobson enjoyed astronomy from the side walks of San Francisco.

 

Clear skies.


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#18 rk2k2

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 04:27 PM

 My location is behind costal hills  behind  Berkeley, today the  sky is so polluted with too many lights including my neighbor lighting his trees upward!

In any case the seing is terrible adding the humidity from the Pacific, lights from San Francisco and many suburbs!

 

No way I will move, when retired you don't want to be far from a medical center.

Going far away from light is truly difficult, even from the Grand Canyon national park, there is plenty light pollution from L.A.

So you do with what you have and make the best of it, still enjoying astronomy.

 

John Dobson enjoyed astronomy from the side walks of San Francisco.

 

Clear skies.

I hear you in one regard VNA- having been stationed on TI in the 70's and later living in the East Bay (El Sobrante- Hayward- Castro Valley) for 15 years, there is this unexplained 'electricity' in the air.  Especially when commuting by BART to work in SF where you have a picture window at your desk with million dollar views overlooking the Bay and Bay bridge.  Or party at a co-workers in the Berkeley hills with that view of the GG!  Wow, all the fantastic memories I had living there are flooding back ...

 

As well as all the advantages of big city life and having virtually anything available you might want.  You'll not fool ME! smile.gif   Being that there are medical centers all over the place, I have no doubt THAT is not what keeps you where you are!  Where I am at (Gold Country), for major  medical it's perhaps a 8 mile/ 20 minute drive to Sutter in Auburn.  While they can't handle any and every situation, they can stabilize and transfer down to Roseville or Sacramento if needed.  I don't know if you have medical issues that would lead you to want immediate availability to whatever issue you may possibly encounter, but myself I won't let such a thing determine how I live my life- I'm perfectly satisfied with full medical attention being available within an hour or so.
 



#19 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 06:10 PM

 

I revise my original statement, by the way. Being 500 feet from a standard 100-watt light bulb is a major problem; being 500 feet from a genuinely bright light is total disaster. To protect yourself against genuinely bright lights, you would need at least one square mile (640 acres), and preferably more.

 

It's only a problem if the direct light is not blocked. A 100 watt bulb at 500 feet behind the garage is not a big problem.

 

Jon


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#20 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 July 2020 - 08:48 PM

It's only a problem if the direct light is not blocked. A 100 watt bulb at 500 feet behind the garage is not a big problem.

That is correct. I meant a light whose bulb is directly visible from your observing site.


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#21 rk2k2

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 12:05 AM

I got my answer after some searching.  They say a picture is worth a 1000 words.  Gives a pretty good idea what effect light domes would have on a particular class 2 site.  (class 2 according to the darksitefinder map).  Deming (7:30)  pop. 14,000/ 30 miles away.  Las Cruces (8:00) pop. 100,000/ 90 miles away.  El Paso (9:00 pop 685,000/ 115 miles away.  This one I like- PHOENIX (2:30) pop 1.7 M / 320 miles away.  And you can STILL see some light dome, albeit less than 5 degrees?

 

Notice yard lights at 11PM- BTW, New Mexico passed a light pollution ordinance in 2000.

 

Disclaimer:  Not my picture but that of NMAV

 

2704d8_8b461c32d1bc41f894b600471c10dfb6~mv2.jpg


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#22 Wallache

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Posted 13 July 2020 - 03:14 PM

Keep in mind that Phoenix Metro is about 4 million people, and El Paso is bordered by Juarez at another 1.3 million people.  


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#23 chanrobi

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 03:42 AM

A single detached tear down house here in a ok neighbourhood is north of $1.5M here.

 

Hahahaha. You guys are living the dream wherever you are



#24 Tony Flanders

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 06:07 AM

This one I like- PHOENIX (2:30) pop 1.7 M / 320 miles away.  And you can STILL see some light dome, albeit less than 5 degrees?


It's hard to tell, but I see no difference at all between the sky where it's labeled Phoenix and the unlabeled piece of horizon symmetrically opposite it on the left. As at any dark site, there's visible airglow all along the horizon.

#25 rk2k2

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Posted 14 July 2020 - 09:35 AM

It's hard to tell, but I see no difference at all between the sky where it's labeled Phoenix and the unlabeled piece of horizon symmetrically opposite it on the left. As at any dark site, there's visible airglow all along the horizon.

Maybe I'm imagining it but viewing my monitor at various angles, I detect a very slight yellowish glow between Tyron Mine to Phoenix.  I'm not saying it's a bad thing or not to be expected.  Being from both LA and the Bay area, I just find it amazing as I consider that would be like seeing light from the Bay Area from geographic LA (hypothetical where there was no city of LA )
 




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