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Fargo/Moorhead area observing

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#1 csrlice12

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 12:05 PM

Am contemplating moving to this area so we can be near aging family member.  This will also be our final move as I am now 70.  What/where is the astronomy like there?  Also, which would be the better place to live?  My wife is a 100% disabled vet, so there is the 300K property tax exemption in Moorhead MN, vs the much lower ND income tax....overall, the tax consequences pretty much offset each other.  



#2 Xeroid

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 01:03 PM

..and don't forget about Medical services available and where and Shopping and Restaurants and Fun stuff and...

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#3 Inkswitch

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 01:26 PM

I observe in this area.  I have to travel to Fargo/Moorhead a few times per year for my job.  I typically drive so I can bring my scope(s).  If you go down MN state route 75 to the south of Moorhead, about four miles will bring you to a cemetery on the right, this is where I go to observe double stars.  I do this when the Moon is in the way and on such trips I bring my 6" dob.

 

Further south on 75, there is a town called Comstock.  I go down into that area and just pull off the side of the road and observe deep sky.  I do this when I cannot stay out late because of work the next day.  If I can stay out as late as I want, then I go west, about halfway between Fargo and Jamestown and turn off to the south of I-94.  I typically bring my 12" for these excursions.

 

When you go south of I-94, there is nothing but farmland.  It is laid out in a grid of one square mile fields with surrounding roads, it is like that for many many miles in every direction.  I just get near a crossroads and look for a good spot to pull off.  I have occasionally seen no one, and occasionally had vehicles pass.  I have never had a problem.  If you go into that area during a harvest there will be traffic, not a lot of traffic, but it will be continuous/spread out all through the night.

 

I have gone to these places because I wanted to look south, presumably, if you want to look north then you should go north because Fargo/Moorhead puts up quite a light dome for such a small metro area.

 

Another thing to consider.  I once observed near the summer solstice while up there.  Astronomical twilight was at midnight, and astronomical dawn was at 2:30.  The sun takes a crazy angle to the horizon up there, I watched the whole show.  Just remember, if it is June or July, you have short nights.  This is balanced by the long nights in December and January, but it is correspondingly cold.


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#4 csrlice12

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 01:35 PM

Pretty much know that as have been to area before and have family there, the VA hospital there is pretty decent and we have good medical insurance.  Just not familiar with surrounding area and costs of living of ND vs MN.  Family can only say dark skies, yeah....the mosquitos are bad in Detroit Lakes, but not sure how they are in Fargo/Moorhead.  I'm leaning towards Moorhead as that $300K property tax exemption may be overall a bigger player in the long run over the lower ND income taxes....although the MN state tax is about five times the ND rate, the property taxes in ND are twice what MN is.  As long as I have a WalMart, home Depot/Lowes, and decent grocery store, I'm good.


Edited by csrlice12, 15 February 2024 - 01:41 PM.


#5 csrlice12

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 01:38 PM

Thanks for the info inkswitch.


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#6 JohnTMN

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 05:27 PM

Well like any metro area light pollution is fierce, but won't be as bad as Denver. The area is "flat" for the surrounding 50 miles or so it being an ancient lake bottom. Best bet's are to travel west into ND for darker sky viewing, a short 10-15miles will quickly put you in rural areas with much better sky.

Easy enough to find a local ball park, or wildlife management area that will have parking, and most ND land owners are much more open to allowing "trespass" than MN, a knock on the door should get you on-going permission to use a field access.

Fargo/Moorhead will have all the amenities you need and much less congestion than Denver,, they just roll-up the sidewalks a little earlier.

As you search for properties, be aware to ask about "flood-zones". The Red River is the border and prone to flooding.


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#7 NDBirdman

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Posted 15 February 2024 - 11:04 PM

I don't view around Fargo, I live west of Grand Forks.  I just walk out the door and I have fairly dark skies, moonless nights I'm a bortle 3.  You can get darker further away from the city, especially if you camp.  For 100% disabled, which I am, up to this year we paid very little on our place (value 250K).  A new program, I don't remember if it's county or state, but state I think, in addition to the VA tax break, we paid no property taxes this year.  You also get 2 vehicles, with DAV tags with free yearly registration.  Total is 2 plates, but I think you can only purchase one vehicle per year with no sales tax added.  The only sucky taxes are within the city, sales tax is a little high on goods, don't know about Fargo but I believe they are just as bad.  Personally, no way I'd live in MN but won't explain without getting political so that's all I'll say about that.  You can find little towns both up and down 29, west on 94 out of Fargo and the prices drop quite a bit on real-estate and your still within a few minutes of the hustle/bustle of the city.

 

I say, but you probably already know, the Fargo VA Hospital and clinics are great.  They treat me very well.  Winters, they can range from decent, like we're currently experiencing, to down-right hellish!!  I do believe there is a astronomy club there, but can't say for sure.  UND has one in forks and folks mention they know ppl around Fargo that also chase DSOs/stars, etc.  ND is where my better half and I settled, we are both getting close to 70.  I could go on but you have a family member here already so you probably know alot already.


Edited by NDBirdman, 15 February 2024 - 11:11 PM.

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