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Just Back from Arizona

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#1 AstroFalcon

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 10:22 PM

Note to Mods: I'll be touching on a few different subject areas so I'm posting here.

 

Well, the family and I just returned from our trip to Arizona. This wasn't an astronomy-focused trip, but I was able to fit in a little over the course of our trip. Our daytime activities took us to the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  Phenomenal skies in both locations, and after spending 3 nights in Sedona, I am now a 100% believer in IDA's Dark Sky Community designations. Sedona's skies were pitch black compared to my home skies here in Colorado. More stars than I could ever hope to count, and I saw the Milky Way naked eye for the first time in years. What a sight to behold!

 

The family and I also took a kid-friendly guided tour of Lowell Observatory up in Flagstaff. The folks at Lowell were awesome, the tour had my kids engaged from start to finish. We got to see the Clark Refractor--which the EP case being solely comprised of 4 TV Panoptics. Next was Percival Lowell's personal office and library, where they had the blink comparator that was used to discover Pluto.  A brief stop at the Pluto Discovery scope before heading to the open deck observatory.  This was where I was a kid in a candy store.  They had six scopes set up for public viewing on a nightly basis (non-COVID environment), for a small fee. Two PlaneWaves (14 & 17 CDKs), one TEC160 refractor, another large refractor meant to be a smaller scale Clark replica, a 32" DOB, and another medium sized reflector on an EQ mount.   The first three alone retail for $52K before the powered mounts, and associated hardware. Since it was daylight, they wheeled out their Lunt 100mm double stack to view the sun.  Nothing too exciting to see at the present time, but there were some nice prominences were present. 

 

Overall, we had a great trip, fit in some astro-related activities. I'd highly recommend heading up to Lowell to use their scopes if you're in the area--I'll definitely be doing that the next time we go to AZ!

 

Keith

 


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#2 Gary Riley

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 11:25 PM

AZ has some beautiful country and skies. Been many years since I last visited there.

#3 KTAZ

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Posted 18 April 2021 - 11:40 PM

As a 24 year resident of Arizona, I am glad you had that chance to visit Lowell. It is a great piece of history and their outreach efforts are really wonderful.

 

I routinely use a dark sky site just outside of the Sedona city limits. Beautiful seeing up there!



#4 alphatripleplus

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Posted 19 April 2021 - 08:46 AM

Sounds like it was a great combo of astronomy and vacation. I hope to visit Lowell when I next get out there.



#5 desertstars

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Posted 19 April 2021 - 09:09 AM

Living in Arizona, Tucson specifically, brought me back into amateur astronomy after a very long hiatus. The city's lighting ordinances, in place for the sake of nearby observatories, makes back yard astronomy doable, though I wouldn't call this a dark sky town by any stretch. But even a half hour drive east or west of town makes a world of difference, and two hours travel can take you out under seriously dark skies, indeed.


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#6 Kent10

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Posted 19 April 2021 - 09:11 AM

Great trip!  A lot of fun.  A slight correction if I may... Lowell has a Tec 140FL, not a Tec 160 as part of the GODO, open deck observatory.  I live in Flag smile.gif



#7 AstroFalcon

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Posted 19 April 2021 - 09:23 AM

Lowell has a Tec 140FL, not a Tec 160 as part of the GODO, open deck observatory.  I live in Flag smile.gif

Thanks for the correction!  Still an impressive scope.



#8 Kent10

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Posted 19 April 2021 - 09:26 AM

Thanks for the correction!  Still an impressive scope.

Oh yes.  I haven't been to Lowell for a while due to COVID but I recall my last view there in the Tec 140FL very well.  The double cluster through an ES 17mm 92 degree eyepiece.  Amazingly beautiful.


Edited by Kent10, 19 April 2021 - 09:26 AM.


#9 Kent10

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Posted 19 April 2021 - 09:27 AM

And the view before that was M31 with an ES 3" 30mm 100 degree.



#10 kjkrum

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 10:25 AM

Jealous of your Lowell tour! We visited the same places around the same time, but I missed the phased reopening announcement for Lowell and it was all booked. And it got unpleasantly windy in Flag while I was there, so I never even set up my scope. It was gusting to 75mph at Meteor Crater the day we were there, and the upper catwalk was closed. Oh well... next year!

#11 kjkrum

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 10:37 AM

But even a half hour drive east or west of town makes a world of difference, and two hours travel can take you out under seriously dark skies, indeed.


So dark that distant light domes become noticable. In Buenos Aires NWR, the whole northern horizon is illuminated by Phoenix and Tucson, and there's another dome to the southeast that must be Nogales, Mexico. Makes me think of Bender from Futurama... "Wanna destroy all humans?"

#12 DSOGabe

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 12:20 PM

Living in Arizona, Tucson specifically, brought me back into amateur astronomy after a very long hiatus. The city's lighting ordinances, in place for the sake of nearby observatories, makes back yard astronomy doable, though I wouldn't call this a dark sky town by any stretch. But even a half hour drive east or west of town makes a world of difference, and two hours travel can take you out under seriously dark skies, indeed.

What do you estimate the Bortle number is there? I know someone who lived in Marana. Went to visit about 4-5 years ago and we were out in their backyard, which faced towards the east, one night and the sky was impressive. 



#13 desertstars

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 04:08 PM

What do you estimate the Bortle number is there? I know someone who lived in Marana. Went to visit about 4-5 years ago and we were out in their backyard, which faced towards the east, one night and the sky was impressive. 

The average SQM reading I see in my back yard is 18.6mags/sq arcsec. So the sky over my house probably rates Bortle 7. Not a "dark" sky as I said, but much better than what I found myself stuck under in the 1980s, when I lived in Phoenix.

 

A state park I've used for observing (Catalina State Park) is somewhere between Bortle 4.5 and 5. It's north of town and partly shielded by the Santa Catalina Mountains. At a guess, I'd say the skies over Marana are probably in the same range.



#14 REC

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 12:54 PM

Note to Mods: I'll be touching on a few different subject areas so I'm posting here.

 

Well, the family and I just returned from our trip to Arizona. This wasn't an astronomy-focused trip, but I was able to fit in a little over the course of our trip. Our daytime activities took us to the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  Phenomenal skies in both locations, and after spending 3 nights in Sedona, I am now a 100% believer in IDA's Dark Sky Community designations. Sedona's skies were pitch black compared to my home skies here in Colorado. More stars than I could ever hope to count, and I saw the Milky Way naked eye for the first time in years. What a sight to behold!

 

The family and I also took a kid-friendly guided tour of Lowell Observatory up in Flagstaff. The folks at Lowell were awesome, the tour had my kids engaged from start to finish. We got to see the Clark Refractor--which the EP case being solely comprised of 4 TV Panoptics. Next was Percival Lowell's personal office and library, where they had the blink comparator that was used to discover Pluto.  A brief stop at the Pluto Discovery scope before heading to the open deck observatory.  This was where I was a kid in a candy store.  They had six scopes set up for public viewing on a nightly basis (non-COVID environment), for a small fee. Two PlaneWaves (14 & 17 CDKs), one TEC160 refractor, another large refractor meant to be a smaller scale Clark replica, a 32" DOB, and another medium sized reflector on an EQ mount.   The first three alone retail for $52K before the powered mounts, and associated hardware. Since it was daylight, they wheeled out their Lunt 100mm double stack to view the sun.  Nothing too exciting to see at the present time, but there were some nice prominences were present. 

 

Overall, we had a great trip, fit in some astro-related activities. I'd highly recommend heading up to Lowell to use their scopes if you're in the area--I'll definitely be doing that the next time we go to AZ!

 

Keith

Did you get to observe in some of those big scopes at night?




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