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Viewing Sites Near DC

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#1 pcaritj

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:15 PM

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for a good site near Washington, DC to view C/2022 E3 (ZTF). I have no trouble finding lists of dark sites near Washington, but I'm finding surprisingly little information about the logistics of actually viewing at these sites. Most are state parks that close at dusk. What do you have to do to actually get in at night and set up a scope? I'm hoping that someone on these forums has actually been to these sites (Sky Meadows, Tuckahoe, Little Bennett, etc.) and can tell me how it works.

 

If you know of any sites with especially good visibility to the north, that would be especially useful.

 

Thanks!



#2 KBHornblower

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:53 PM

Check out the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club.

 

https://www.novac.com/wp/

 

We have observing privileges at Sky Meadows and a few other sites.  Dues are $35 per year.  Check out the website for special requirements for observing on your own at Sky Meadows.


Edited by KBHornblower, 25 January 2023 - 06:58 PM.

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#3 KBHornblower

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 10:46 AM

Oops!  I forgot that you need to be a member of the club to see the observing site information in the "Members Only" part of the website.



#4 weis14

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 11:18 PM

NOVAC is the right answer.  I was a member for a few years when I was in the DC area from 2014-2018 and the observing sites were great.  I loved Turner Mountain in particular.  It was easy to get to off of I-66 and was beautiful.  It was probably Bortle 4, but the drive home to Alexandria after was a lot quicker than just about any other site.  The club's Almost Heaven Star Party in West Virginia was also great.  I definitely need to get back to that event one of these years.

 

If you don't want to join NOVAC, you could probably see it from one of the overlooks in Shenandoah National Park or from the park's Big Meadows area.  I observed a few times in Big Meadows and so long as you aren't camping, I don't think you need a backcountry permit (at least I never got one).  You could call the NPS and ask if you are worried about it.


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#5 avgdan

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 11:44 PM

Used to live in DC area. There‚Äôs Observatory Park in Gaithersburg, MD. See link: https://www.gaithers...tching-programs



#6 gwd

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Posted 28 January 2023 - 06:30 AM

This park in Fairfax county isn't officially open all night but we once hung out in the grass by the parking lot all night stargazing and no one bothered us.  The park  has an astronomy program so it doesn't seem weird to the cops if you've got a telescope set up pointed at the comet.  

 

https://www.fairfaxc...rks/turner-farm

 

This group uses of the park:

 

https://www.analemma.org/

 

There are darkish areas tucked away in obscure corners of the DC area.  Before they expanded the Wilson Bridge,  Jones Point in Alexandria was surprisingly dark for being so close to the city.   I used to observe from there regularly.   There are so many parks around the city- but look at a crime map first.   Maybe its safe now, but some places around DC in the 1980's - 2000's weren't comfortable for me after dark- or in the daylight either for that matter.   

 

 

 

 



#7 JoshUrban

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Posted 29 January 2023 - 09:34 AM

I'm a member of the Southern Maryland Astronomical Society, and our site is SOUTH of the city in rural southern Maryland, although relatively dark.  www.smas.us  

 

  NOVAC is definitely a good source, and Skyline Drive is a great idea, too!


Edited by JoshUrban, 29 January 2023 - 09:34 AM.


#8 Dr. Megabyte

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Posted 30 January 2023 - 09:16 PM

The DCist, an online magazine sponsored by Washington's NPR radio station WAMU, just published this story: 

 

The 11 Best Stargazing Spots Near D.C. 

 

 

 




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