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My night at Davis Mountains State Park

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#1 hboswell

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 08:33 AM

Just got back from a 2500-mile, two-week camping trip to Texas that included 4 state parks, 2 Corps of Engineers campgrounds, Marathon RV Resort, and as it turned out, only one night of observing. But that one night, at Davis Mountains State Park in west Texas, was incredible. I paid the $3 for a permit to be at the top of Skyline Drive after 10 PM. There was one other man up there with me after 10, imaging with what looked like a C8, but he only stayed about an hour. I was up there until 1, and man the skies were incredible. My wife had somehow agreed to let me take my 11" Starmaster on the trip instead of my 6se, and it was so worth it. Two views really stand out for me - M42 in Orion, easily the best view of that I've ever had. Such amazing wispiness! The other was the Leo triplet - M65, M66, and NGC 3628. Just incredible what truly dark skies will do for a telescope. I'd never had a telescope under skies that dark. The other memorable sight was Omega Centauri, which because I was on a peak at 5500' was well above the southern horizon. I was too low for me to comfortably observe with the Starmaster, so I just used 8x42 binoculars, but it was still a beauty.  The one disappintment, if you can call it that, was that I failed once again to find NGC 1569 in Camelopardalis. I've been chasing that for some time, and thought I would finally nail it at Davis, but no luck. I was supposed to have a second night, but a combination of early clouds and the need to leave early the next morning (because we had to reroute our trip due to high wind warnings and red flag warnings at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, where we had intended to go next) I didn't set up again. I had also hoped to set up at Marathon, but there were clouds there too. Disappointing, but that one night at Davis was enough to make the trip memorable.

 

So how do you pack a large telescope into a small truck pulling a small camper, which is already pretty full from the things we normally take? Photos attached!

 

Harry

Attached Thumbnails

  • starmaster11_base_in_truck_small.jpg
  • starmaster11_cage_in_camper_small.jpg
  • starmaster11_davismountains_small.jpg

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#2 TelescopeBah

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 08:47 AM

Wow sounds like a dream to me, to be able to get to dark skies and high altitude! Maybe someday...

#3 hboswell

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:57 AM

Wow sounds like a dream to me, to be able to get to dark skies and high altitude! Maybe someday...

Was for me too. We wanted to plan a spring trip, needed it to be fairly early because of an impending grandchild arrival, and my wife didn't have anything in particular in mind. So I said "what about west Texas, Big Bend, (then in a small voice to see if she'd bite) really dark skies I've heard about at Davis Mountain?". And she bit!

 

Harry


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#4 TelescopeBah

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 12:04 PM

Good for you! I know it just had to be awesome!

#5 Migwan

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 04:00 PM

I built a crate for my C11/refractor combo to fit under the tonneau cover on the Ranger.  I couldn't find one that fit both.   I used it twice on winter trips to visit CA via W Tx.  Then the plague hit, so now I'm thinking of a summer trip.

 

One thing for sure, those W Tx stars are pretty well lit.

.

 

jd   



#6 alphatripleplus

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 04:08 PM

 

So how do you pack a large telescope into a small truck pulling a small camper, which is already pretty full from the things we normally take? Photos attached!

 

Harry

That looks like an impressive packing effort. Glad the views made it worthwhile.



#7 hboswell

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:20 PM

That looks like an impressive packing effort. Glad the views made it worthwhile.

The base took some figuring. I finally realized it fit best with the encoder facing out. Bit of a pain to put it in and take it out, all ~70 pounds of it, especially at 1 in the morning on a dark ridgetop. I used a ratchet strap to tie the cage to my bed while we traveled, then when we got to the campground I would move it to the front seat of the truck unless we were going somewhere in the truck. The base stayed behind the driver's seat (back seat was flipped up) all the time unless I was using it. If you look closely you can see the small bin with the eyepieces I took on the floor in front of the base. Backpack with books, red flashlight, Sky Commander controller, etc. rode in the bed under cover, along with the stool in the photo.

 

Harry



#8 The Planetman

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:46 PM

West Texas skies are wonderful when it's clear!
But you know, you've messed up......
Now when you go out, you'll look up and say, "Gosh these skies look like crap!"...even on those nights we once considered good for our eastern locations....
Those wonderful west desert skies do that to you......

 

Seriously though, glad you got a really nice night under the stars!



#9 havasman

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 10:00 PM

Great to see your report! I remember you were planning the trip. And you got to take advantage of your aperture. Y'all come back now, y'hear!



#10 hboswell

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 01:24 PM

Great to see your report! I remember you were planning the trip. And you got to take advantage of your aperture. Y'all come back now, y'hear!

I gotta tell you, Dick, this trip completely changed my view of west Texas. That's some seriously beautiful country out there, day or night! I'll definitely be back!

 

Harry


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#11 BillB

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 01:49 PM

Skyline Drive is a great place for observing!

   Bill




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