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Astronomy near Houston area of Texas conditions..bugs etc

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#1 astronomer10

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Posted 09 February 2024 - 10:29 PM

FEB-10-2024

 

Hi,

 I am a veteran of the hobby, considering moving closer to my kids in the area outside of Houston , maybe west of Houston or North to

Conroe...

 

I have been used to dry conditions of the Southwest USA for years...so my 2 BIG questions are :

 

a)   Any of you guys live in that part of Texas?  How is the situation with mosquitoes at night??

 

b)   Is there a sufficient  number of nights with clear skies?

 

Thanks,

 

Ed


Edited by astronomer10, 09 February 2024 - 10:30 PM.

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#2 MDL1

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Posted 09 February 2024 - 10:54 PM

I live 3.5 hours west in the Hill Country (I’m one hour north of San Antonio) —-no mosquitos and a plenty of Bortle 3-4 locations with significantly less humidity and plenty of good observing nights.  The further east you go from here toward Houston you get increases in light pollution, humidity, mosquitos and fewer observing nights.   The three hour drive from this area to Houston is pretty easy—mostly interstate.   Recommend you look in a triangle of Boerne, Fredericksburg and Marble Falls—lots of great small towns around the area  in Bortle 3-4. Also an easy 7 hours to (Big Bend Bortle 0)and 5.5 hours to Fort Davis Bortle 2.  



#3 Keith Rivich

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Posted 09 February 2024 - 11:16 PM

Thinking about moving closer to my kids ...

 

If any of you guys lives around Houston area  and do astronomy,

 

a) how's the situation with mosquitoes at night?

 

b)  are there enough clear nights in the year?

Glad you asked!

 

Our club has a fantastic observing site about 90 miles west of downtown Houston. Gated. Concrete pads. Electricity. Bunkhouses and bathrooms. SQM the other night was 21.47. Mosquito's can be bad if the weather has been rainy. Nothing a little DEET and long sleeve shirts can't handle. 

 

A little closer to town is the George Observatory. About 40 miles SW of downtown. Great place for outreach...so-so for observing. In the middle of a swamp. Mosquito's can be terrible. Nothing surface to air missile's can't handle. 

 

Winter is more about timing. Weather is typically 5 to 7 days apart and if this sets up on weekends (like it is now) observing can be affected. However, normally there is more then enough clear nights to get a lot of observing done. 


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#4 Gcimera

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Posted 09 February 2024 - 11:43 PM

I live about 30 miles north of Houston in The Woodlands. Great place to live! Started astronomy about 6-8 months ago and have no shortage of clear nights. Yes, bugs are thriving here, but it’s February and I’m outside in shorts so it’s a trade off for sure. Many dark and dark-ish places to go. I’m a transplant from Chicago and have really enjoyed this area.

Let me know if you need any info….


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#5 JSTAR0057

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Posted 10 February 2024 - 12:08 AM

FEB-10-2024

 

Hi,

 I am a veteran of the hobby, considering moving closer to my kids in the area outside of Houston , maybe west of Houston or North to

Conroe...

 

I have been used to dry conditions of the Southwest USA for years...so my 2 BIG questions are :

 

a)   Any of you guys live in that part of Texas?  How is the situation with mosquitoes at night??

 

b)   Is there a sufficient  number of nights with clear skies?

 

Thanks,

 

Ed

Introduce and post this in The "Winter in Texas" Forum. We have a few people from that area that will give you all the specifics. I live by San Antonio to the North. Very hot in the summer. Humidity is worse in Houston then here from what I have been told, but I have never been to Houston, so do not take my word for it.  



#6 JSTAR0057

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Posted 10 February 2024 - 12:11 AM

This group. 

 

winter in Texas 2024-02-09 230944.jpg



#7 Jlex

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Posted 10 February 2024 - 12:38 AM

Forget astronomy and conditions, if you can be closer to your kids, make the move and don't look back.  


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#8 Alterf

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Posted 10 February 2024 - 09:58 AM

I live north of Houston, too, in a Houston suburb but still south of Lake Conroe.  With a 10" Newt from my backyard, I'm seeing about 9 of every 10 Herschel 400 objects.  I see many of them with my 6" when I don't want to haul out the 10, and I'm not the best observer.  Other 400s I have seen from the North Houston Astronomy Club dark site.  The Houston club site is, as Keith said, really nice and darker still.

 

Someone should add that seeing here almost always allows views 240x and above.  I typically observe up to 305x with my 10" and seeing does not stand in the way.  That was an unexpected surprise when I moved here decades ago, but it's pretty valuable to me.  I think the planets become interesting 240x and up, and the same goes for many deep sky objects.  I frequently see the E and F stars in the Trapezium with my 6" because the seeing is good and the sky transparent enough.

 

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#9 csa/montana

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Posted 11 February 2024 - 09:02 AM

Moved to General Observing, since OTO is none astronomy discussion, and OP did not say he was into imaging.


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#10 truckerfromaustin

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Posted 11 February 2024 - 02:33 PM

Like any other large city Houston has plenty of traffic, light pollution, and other headaches. Being on the coastline means plenty of clouds and rain which brings up the mosquito problem. I use a good repellent and a shotgun with birdshot shells to deal with them. They tend to be pretty aggressive at night when it's not too windy. Their bite is as bad as you might expect. I'm posting a photo of the most common type of mosquito in the area. As others have mentioned there are better viewing sites within a reasonable driving distance.

 

Clear Skies 

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_2024-02-11-132321.jpeg


#11 Max Coe

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Posted 11 February 2024 - 08:24 PM

My wife and I grew up on the South side of Houston. I got my first scope there in 1962. I have fond memories of observing in the back yard, just North of Hobby airport. Big light dome, even back then, but plenty to see. Now, the light dome follows the interstates for a long way out of town. We are now NW of Navasota in Bortle 4. Plenty of good nights for astronomy, but not as many as Mojave. The bugs are manageable. The BBQ is amazing. The alligators now range far North of Huntsville. Not a problem, though.


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#12 DazeGazer

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Posted 13 February 2024 - 06:17 PM

You will always gets the glow from the city unless you get a large distance away. The chemical plants and refineries and companies that support them are open 24 housr a day and 365 days a year and a lot of the workers are outisde so they need lights, plus all the lights on the towers and stacks to keep them from having an incident with a plane and such. Conroe is headed in the right direction and you can if you really want to get away from at least neighbors light and such go the Sam Houston National Forest which is 30 minutes give or take and longer the further you go into it.

 

Lived in TX most of my adult life and have worked a lot of nights supporting the petro chemical field and for a while for the US Forest Service? Bugs? What bugs? Don't stress on them and you won't even notice them after a while. The humidity around Houston will always be high, I say this as someone originally from the state of LA.


Edited by DazeGazer, 13 February 2024 - 06:20 PM.


#13 Keith Rivich

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Posted 13 February 2024 - 09:10 PM

You will always gets the glow from the city unless you get a large distance away. The chemical plants and refineries and companies that support them are open 24 housr a day and 365 days a year and a lot of the workers are outisde so they need lights, plus all the lights on the towers and stacks to keep them from having an incident with a plane and such. Conroe is headed in the right direction and you can if you really want to get away from at least neighbors light and such go the Sam Houston National Forest which is 30 minutes give or take and longer the further you go into it.

 

Lived in TX most of my adult life and have worked a lot of nights supporting the petro chemical field and for a while for the US Forest Service? Bugs? What bugs? Don't stress on them and you won't even notice them after a while. The humidity around Houston will always be high, I say this as someone originally from the state of LA.

The only problem with SHNF is your southern skies are obliterated. This is why our club has a site well west of Houston, its a tad bit drier and we have a great southern sky!



#14 coopman

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Posted 13 February 2024 - 09:15 PM

Get a Thermacell device to keep the bugs away from you.  It uses a harmless plant abstract that skeeters hate.



#15 Max Coe

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Posted 13 February 2024 - 11:50 PM

We are 1.5 hrs from downtown, but as far away from I45 and I10 as we can get. No dome here, and no wind off of the refineries.



#16 Geo31

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Posted 14 February 2024 - 02:43 PM

I’m in Willis, north of Conroe (an hour north of downtown Houston).  Used to be a great location. We could easily see the Milky Way when we bought our property in 2015.  Now my skies are rarely fully black.  The city has followed us.  While I don’t spend time on the west side, I’ve observed the city creeping out into the country that way as well.

 

Currently NW seems best, but highway 249 has been extended almost to Navasota (the “Aggie” Freeway) so I suspect that will boom in the next 5 years as well.

 

Between Willis and Huntsville is decent, but new developments are going in there as well.  East of I45 is probably better sky-wise, but it’s tougher access to things like hospitals. 




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