Author Topic: How Safe is Your Observing Site  (Read 454 times)

acbrawexel

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How Safe is Your Observing Site
« on: December 28, 2017, 11:21:00 PM »
How safe is your observing site from animals, humans etc.

My dark sky site is safe, out of the way from from any trouble-makers and haven't come across any dangerous animals, it is dry and very hot in summer, and frigid in winter. So far the scariest thing I experienced there was Kangaroos messing about in the distance.

My dark site doesn't get mosquitoes, but the flies during daylight hours are a disaster.

My home site though, I will not observe from there. Forget it, especially form Oct to May. The massive overhanging gum trees deposit all kinds of crap, from leaves to this black stuff, don't want any this on my mirrors. And on more than one occasion, I have seen Eastern Brown Snakes, the second deadliest snake in the world, move around my front yard. My parents 2 doors down saw not one but 2 snakes peeking onto their property recently. In the warmer months, the bugs are plain insane, there is no hope, the mosquitoes and bugs are in plague proportions, to the extent where you have to cover your flyscreened doors and windows with your curtains and shut off all interior lights. The deadliest snakes in the world here are an actual threat, i heard horror stories from the locals and have seen these freaking snakes right outside my door myself.

This is in addition to the mosquitos and bugs at home, which are just insane. The word "insane" is not even close to expressing the annual mosquito and bug plague here at my home.



Lance Soto

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 11:49:06 AM »
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the most dangerous site in North America is nothing compared to your sites in Australia in terms of natural dangers. Humans are easily the most dangerous animal in the United States and even then they don't usually hang out at dark sites. There was a post on CN a couple of days ago from a guy who rolled his car on the way home from observing. I, and many others, have commented often that the drive is the most dangerous part of any dark site observing trip. I'd guess you are unique in that the drive makes your observing safer. Watch those snakes.

Kyle Wood

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2017, 09:13:51 PM »
My dark sky site is quite safe, despite being about 20 miles from a state penitentiary. Even most of the locals don't know about us. The site is gated with similar style gates everyone else uses and we have no signs posted except during observing nights so people can find the place. We have a two story dome observatory that sits on a bluff but the area is fairly wooded so you can't see it from the road. We seem to be the area's best kept secret. Only critters we have to worry about is rattlers, scorpions, black widows and brown recluses. The deer are suicidal as you drive to and from the site.

At home it's a similar situation as I live in a rural area. At night, if I didn't have my lights on inside the house (I have no working lights outside), you would never know a house was there. It's set back from the road on 2 acres of land and secluded from the neighbors by a wall of trees that surround the edge of the property. I have no problems leaving my gear outside the front lawn for weeks at a time when the weather is good and know it will still be there when I get home from work. The county sheriff lives just down the street from me and I know all my neighbors. Since I live in a rural area, and just 40 minutes from my club's dark site, I have to deal with the same critters coming around. The deer are somewhat docile as the neighbors all have feeders set up. I once had a herd of about 8 deer come through while I was observing one night as they made their rounds going from feeder to feeder.

Myron Apostolics

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2017, 10:29:22 PM »
Wild boars are the most common danger. They can be very aggresive and fast!

faubloginac

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2018, 05:45:32 AM »
My dark sky site is fenced and private. It is in rattle snake territory but they're pretty much live and let live, the terrain is natural and I've never seen one there. There are tarantula spiders, they're scary looking but not seriously harmful.

Probably the most dangerous are the black widow spiders. They build their webs in the garage and pumphouse.

Mosquitos and flying insects are extremely rare.

Our home in the city is similar.. no flying bugs, few spiders..

Jon

ithoclirans

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2018, 03:16:25 AM »
Some pics from my (defunct) home site

Thank god my dark site is only 15 mins drive and is free from trees, bugs, and animals.The world's second deadliest snake, the Eastern Brown... this right here is why I can't observe from home...

Daniel Lacasse

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 02:23:41 PM »
I have deer, opossum, skunk, raccoon, and wayward drunks walking home from a night at the alcoholic's refill stations down the way.

Moderately safe.

Dan Square

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2018, 11:17:45 PM »
Finding a good observing site is a problem for me. When I observe in the city, I'm never alone. Last night I was at a nearby park which I heard was good for stargazing. It was pretty dark and I had some company there, just kids fooling around, at least until the police scared them off. I want you all to know they said my telescope setup is "totally legit," and for the record I had my refractor with me. They seemed harmless to me, but I am definitely grateful to the cops looking out for me.

The first time I went out to a park with a telescope, I'm 90% sure I broke up a drug deal. They ran off awful quick. Maybe they thought the telescope was for surveillance? I would like to point out they were doing their business in the well-lit parking lot, in fact all the truly shady characters I run into have been well-lit parks close to the city center. So much for light pollution making you safer.

So I signed up to a club to use their dark site, where I was recently informed that black bears have been spotted following people around there. Not terribly worried about that one as it's still eastern MA, pretty tame country. Personally, I'm more afraid of the illegal-spec lasers that people seem to use like flashlights.

I have gone up to the mountains in New Hampshire. The skies there are excellent, but the black bear risk becomes very real in mountain ranges. I mainly go there during the winter, so they're probably hibernating, but snowy mountain roads can make for dangerous driving at night. Along with the lack of cell reception, it's probably the sketchiest of all my options.

The only great observing site I have access to is my family's property in Maine. It's very safe and the skies are pretty good (Bortle 4). Unfortunately this weekend is the last time I'll be heading up there this year, so I'll be like an astronomer without a home for a few months.

Jason Hillyer

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 01:13:49 AM »
Got roving gangs of polar bears here in Denmark crashing my one man star party...ok, I'm exaggeraring.
Honest! I have, not one but TWO, ferocious kittens around my feet in my well lit back yard. And some low flying bats in the summer...and maybe a hedgehog.

inmactoopho

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 11:41:23 AM »
A car got by last time. Somehow strange.

Rick Nocturnum

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 04:47:47 AM »
Not too many scary animals in the mid Atlantic, although I've had a few deer surprise me.
People, on the other hand, scare the crap out of me. No one has ever messed with me, but I feel really vulnerable sitting by myself in a public park with over a thousand dollars worth of gear hanging out the back of my minivan. I usually keep a canister of mace in my pocket. That said, I've met many odd and interesting people, and random outreach can be pretty fun.

Jose Lukeson

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2018, 11:01:23 AM »
Quote
Some pics from my (defunct) home site

Thank god my dark site is only 15 mins drive and is free from trees, bugs, and animals.The world's second deadliest snake, the Eastern Brown... this right here is why I can't observe from home...

That's a whole lot of NOPE for me!

Anthony Eppinger

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2018, 03:35:04 PM »
Ian, you have some really scare critters down under!

I have coyotes near and some barking dogs, but that's about all.  For my "dark site", maybe coyotes and a possible cougar. But the worst predator walks on two legs and drives a vehicle...those are ones to be wary of.

rissubssimpsat

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2018, 11:23:11 PM »
Safety to you all! Especially you peeps down under with all those critters!
For the rural elevation site, the dangers I'm most cognizant of is the drive to and from the site (freeway),
and the potential for no-see-em ticks that try to hitch a ride back carrying some undesirable disease....
It's a club site that beckons only the most dedicated AP'ers that are regulars,
so comradely is good, but a week night up there alone feels just as safe....

At more local haunts, my setup usually keeps me in my car with just my mount/scope at the side of my vehicle.
The only interactions I've ever had in such circumstances were just the local's finest checking up to see what my randomly parked car was up to,
and then without much fuss they continue on protecting and serving elsewhere....
I do enjoy that a regular astronomy setup does make it quite obvious my intentions!
[of course I don't have one of those cannon or missile launcher-looking Dobs]

Doing solar observing during the day (especially if I drive to a particular location to catch a transit or something),
I am much more paranoid of my perception since (except for the recent eclipse hype),
peering towards the Sun isn't a well considered astronomical activity....
Sometimes I setup my shield that reads "solar research" just to settle any perceived nerves of surrounding peoples...

renjaysunsdis

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Re: How Safe is Your Observing Site
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2018, 12:17:34 AM »
Have heard a few coyotes, but they stay away. There is a herd of cows on a farm bordering the dark site, but you'd hardly know they're there. Skeeters in the summer. The dark site did have a rattlesnake infestation about 4 years ago. Haven't seen one since though.