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Mark Twain Nat'l forest-Bortle 2/1?

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#1 woodswalker88

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 09:07 AM

Hi folks, I'm going to be in IL in the next 2 weeks & I noticed on the Bortle Map that Mark Twain Natl forest in MO is Bortle 2...1? Has anyone been there, can recommend any good observing sites? Or is everything inaccessible and covered with trees? 


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#2 PYeomans

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Posted 25 May 2024 - 11:27 AM

Have camped there many times and the skies are very dark. There are a number of state parks with enough open area to make easy observing. The nearest towns are quite small (Eminence pop. 502). 


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#3 woodswalker88

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Posted 25 May 2024 - 02:27 PM

mark twain natl.JPG Thanks! I'm wondering if it is a good alternative to places like "death valley". A lot closer for driving from PA.

But could it really be Bortle #1? Or was I reading the map wrong?


Edited by woodswalker88, 25 May 2024 - 02:31 PM.


#4 Neanderthal

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Posted 25 May 2024 - 11:23 PM

We recently acquired some land in the dark blue area northwest of Mountain View. I scouted the area you have circled when looking for land and potential observing sites, it's pretty much all privately-owned and some government property. A lot of the conservation areas are open to the public, but can be gated off without notice, and are on dusty, narrow gravel roads. There are a couple State Parks in the region. Not sure any of it is true Bortle 1, I would say Bortle 2 to be safe, but yeah, it's dark. Use the Light Pollution Atlas 2022 for more up-to-date SQM ratings.

 

https://djlorenz.git...erlay/dark.html

 

Note that most of Missouri is under a raging jet stream most of the year, so anything better than "average" Seeing is rare (according to Astropheric.com) and I would agree with that app. 


Edited by Neanderthal, 25 May 2024 - 11:26 PM.

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#5 woodswalker88

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 07:09 AM

We recently acquired some land in the dark blue area northwest of Mountain View. I scouted the area you have circled when looking for land and potential observing sites, it's pretty much all privately-owned and some government property. A lot of the conservation areas are open to the public, but can be gated off without notice, and are on dusty, narrow gravel roads. There are a couple State Parks in the region. Not sure any of it is true Bortle 1, I would say Bortle 2 to be safe, but yeah, it's dark. Use the Light Pollution Atlas 2022 for more up-to-date SQM ratings.

 

https://djlorenz.git...erlay/dark.html

 

Note that most of Missouri is under a raging jet stream most of the year, so anything better than "average" Seeing is rare (according to Astropheric.com) and I would agree with that app. 

Thanks for your reply! I guess State parks would be the best; otherwise probably thick woods.
>most of Missouri is under a raging jet stream most of the year, so anything better than "average" Seeing is rare"

In other words, pretty much like Pennsylvania (my home state.)!! We have the Cherry Springs Dark Sky Park but good luck getting a non-rainy day there.
 



#6 JoshH

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 08:10 AM

Many years ago I had a field in that area that was government land I used to dry camp at. It was great for observing and rarely would anyone bother me down there. Then one time I went there and it was gated off, I asked a park ranger about it and he said to many people were going in there with ATVs and tearing it up. 

 

I have observed at the Powder Mill campground before, it has been a few years so I don't know if anything has changed. There were no electric campsites so you didn't have to worry about a whole lot of light from other campers although with the new battery technology available that may be more of a problem. If you happen to be there when nobody else is camping say in the winter time you can probably have the place to yourself. If there are other campers there with campfires etc. you can observe in the parking lot of an office building near the entrance of the campground. I don't think the building is in use and there are no lights whatsoever on it or in the parking lot. Trees only give you about 30 degrees of sky from East to West about maybe 50-60 degrees from North-South but that is where the best observing is anyway. 

 

I live in central Missouri and this area has the darkest skies closest to me, if anyone finds a good spot to observe from please let me know, especially if you can park a camper at the same or nearby location. I don't have to have hookups. 


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#7 Neanderthal

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 12:46 PM

Thanks for your reply! I guess State parks would be the best; otherwise probably thick woods.
>most of Missouri is under a raging jet stream most of the year, so anything better than "average" Seeing is rare"

In other words, pretty much like Pennsylvania (my home state.)!! We have the Cherry Springs Dark Sky Park but good luck getting a non-rainy day there.
 

Don't get me wrong, it's still dark and the night sky is beautiful! Even under partly clouded conditions, one can easily see more than in a larger town under clear skies, lol. Just figure you will most often see stars twinkling if you are primarily going after great planetary observing, it won't be like a desert sky.



#8 Bungee

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 10:36 PM

Howdy, I'm in my 24th year here. The area you circled is known as the Irish Wilderness. Yes, it's dark there, and allows open camping, but it's heavily wooded so your field of vision is limited. There is a campground called McCormack Lake with some open sky, I've been there and didn't care for it. To the immediate north is Peck Ranch. MDC property with spacious camping areas. Probably good for what you want. One of these days I'm going to pack a scope up Stegall Mtn. and spend the night there. My personal favorite is a primitive campground on the Current river east of Eminence called the Logyard. A large gravel bar, not as hemmed in, open dark skies to go along with beautiful scenery right on the river. Camped there several times.

 

I've mentioned Echo Bluff here before. If you prefer modern facilities, it's a state park north of Eminence with RV slots, cabins, a lodge, and restaurant. They have a designated site called the sky porch where a local club hosts star parties. Been there many times. The park is dark sky sensitive, and the sky porch is shielded from the lights below.


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