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State Park observing in Winter, specifically NJ

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#1 aram12

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 11:28 AM

I live on the Jersey side of the NY White zone.

I've been looking into where I can drive to get to at least a yellow zone.  

State parks seem to be the way to go, but I'm getting a bunch of conflicting information. 

I called and got through to the Parks Dept at Voorhees (the only open office I found) and they told me that to access any Park after Dusk, I'd need to 'rent' a campsite for the night, but 'don't bother doing that' because you 'absolutely are forbidden' to leave your designated campsite and 'we have patrols'.  So 'you can't go wandering off to find a clearing'.   He specifically mentioned Jenny Jump and Stokes as having the same policy.

 

 

In addition, it seems that 99% of NJ State Parks close completely by October end, yet I read about All Year Round campsites on those very same websites.

 

 

I know observing at NJ Parks is a thing, because I read about it on here all the time. 

Can anyone with experience interpret the information I have gathered?  Because at this point, it seems that State Park observing is 'not a thing'.

 

Thanks much.


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#2 jefffed

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 12:18 PM

Have you thought about joining an astronomy club in NJ? I lived in Brooklyn for some time and I joined NJAA. We would drive out around once a month. 

 

http://www.njaa.org/

 

Or this might be helpful:

 

https://www.go-astro...te.php?State=NJ

 

You can compare the club's locations to your light pollution requirements



#3 aram12

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 12:23 PM

Absolutely.  But with Covid and such, currently I'm looking to just find a safe place to observe.

 

When you say, "drive out", what do you mean?  Are you referring to State Parks?  Curious where you went and what time of year, etc. 



#4 gravy11

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 02:05 PM

I live on the Jersey side of the NY White zone.

I've been looking into where I can drive to get to at least a yellow zone.  

State parks seem to be the way to go, but I'm getting a bunch of conflicting information. 

I called and got through to the Parks Dept at Voorhees (the only open office I found) and they told me that to access any Park after Dusk, I'd need to 'rent' a campsite for the night, but 'don't bother doing that' because you 'absolutely are forbidden' to leave your designated campsite and 'we have patrols'.  So 'you can't go wandering off to find a clearing'.   He specifically mentioned Jenny Jump and Stokes as having the same policy.

 

 

In addition, it seems that 99% of NJ State Parks close completely by October end, yet I read about All Year Round campsites on those very same websites.

 

 

I know observing at NJ Parks is a thing, because I read about it on here all the time. 

Can anyone with experience interpret the information I have gathered?  Because at this point, it seems that State Park observing is 'not a thing'.

 

Thanks much.

Hey. I live near Wayne, NJ. Typically, my Wife and I go to Liberty Loop Trail in Pine Island, NY. It's about an hour. Probably a Bortle 4 area. We've had some awesome nights there. 

 

Good luck!

 

Dan



#5 Bobby_CN

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 02:51 PM

In NJ there aren't really that many yellow zones to begin with.

 

Check www.uacnj.org (United Astronomy Clubs of NJ - at Jenny Jump state park) if you become a member you can go observing there at any time you want. Also check their current policies about COVID things might have changed.

 

Thanks,

Bobby



#6 davidmcgo

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 03:52 PM

Same with NJAA, they have an observatory and property within Voorhees State Park.  So if you join there you can observe from the NJAA grounds without paying camping fee or whatever to the park.

 

Dave



#7 jc482p

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 03:57 PM

You might want to join www.uacnj.org.  Their observatory at Jenny Jump State Park, where the sky is a bit darker than in Voorhees State Park.  The catch is that in order to get access there any time you want, you not only have to be a member, but you also need to complete some training in order to be able to use the telescopes in their observatory, and then furthermore you need to volunteer some of your time each year to assist in club activities.  This is according to their website.



#8 gfeulner

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 03:59 PM

If you join the Rockland astronomy club they have regular observing sessions at several places. I go to Wawayanda state park. You need a permit which will be sent to you if you join the RAC. Observing sessions have been limited lately because of Covid but should improve soon. RAC info is available on line.

Gerry 



#9 aram12

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 06:43 PM

I've looked at many of these clubs, including the ones mentioned.  But I'm not interested in joining a club at this time.

 

Can anyone confirm my original post?  That if you go to a state park after dusk, you can't leave your campsite?  And other than obtaining a permit from a club, how does one go about observing at a State Forest when it seems you're not allowed to?  

 

gfeulner, Does RAC have their own permit to observe at Wawayanda?  Otherwise you are not allowed?

 

gravy11, Is Liberty Loop free to enter after dusk?  In the winter?



#10 gfeulner

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 06:56 PM

I've looked at many of these clubs, including the ones mentioned.  But I'm not interested in joining a club at this time.

 

Can anyone confirm my original post?  That if you go to a state park after dusk, you can't leave your campsite?  And other than obtaining a permit from a club, how does one go about observing at a State Forest when it seems you're not allowed to?  

 

gfeulner, Does RAC have their own permit to observe at Wawayanda?  Otherwise you are not allowed?

 

gravy11, Is Liberty Loop free to enter after dusk?  In the winter?

Yes RAC issues a permit to members for Wawayanda. If you're a member and want to go to Wawayanda you need to contact a member via email who is authorized to call the park rangers for permission to go that night. You can't just go to Wawayanda without doing this. All this is explained in the information they will send you if you join.  

Gerry                  



#11 Migwan

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 09:40 PM

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area???  

 

Possibly find a spot in a State Forrest rather than a State Park.  Don't know if New Jersey makes a distinction between the two as Michigan does.  You'd have to check that.

 

I found my State Forrest dark site by zooming in on Google Satellite/Maps looking for clearings with good access away from any buildings/homes.  If you do find someplace that looks suitable, be sure to drive out in the daylight to check it out.  

 

Good luck

 

jd 



#12 jc482p

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Posted 02 October 2020 - 09:15 AM

And other than obtaining a permit from a club, how does one go about observing at a State Forest when it seems you're not allowed to?

For access to observatory grounds inside Voorhees State Forest through NJAA, there is no permit.  Instead, the grounds are protected by a gate that is locked with a combination lock.  When you become a member, they give you the right number to unlock it.

 

Because of COVID, it's members only on the observatory grounds.  So if you unlock the gate to get in/out, then you and your car can come in/go out, but they ask you to lock the gate right behind you.


Edited by jc482p, 02 October 2020 - 09:16 AM.


#13 twjs

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Posted 03 October 2020 - 03:50 PM

Bit of a hike for you but it's closer than DWG.

 

https://www.friendso...nt/astronomy-8/



#14 jc482p

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 12:26 PM

That looks like a nice observing site.  But the website for Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge says it's only open from dawn to dusk.



#15 avarakin

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 11:19 PM

Aram12,

 

We observed couple of times in the Stokes state forest after calling them and asking permission. 

I suggest that you call them before going. 

Another option is to go a little further - to PA, which has darker skies and less strict rules. 

I run a small distribution list to coordinate observing in Shohola PA area, please send me a PM if you are interested in joining.

 

Alex



#16 PXR-5

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Posted 05 October 2020 - 11:50 AM

I used to live in Ringwood, NJ.
Ringwood State Park is nice and dark :)

I miss it there, here in NC it's actually brighter.
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#17 twjs

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Posted 06 October 2020 - 04:11 PM

That looks like a nice observing site.  But the website for Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge says it's only open from dawn to dusk.

Give them a call to confirm but I think the website is wrong. I've been there till the wee hours but that was last year.




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