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General Astronomy => General Astronomy & Observing => Topic started by: Bobby Cruz on December 29, 2017, 12:32:04 PM

Title: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Bobby Cruz on December 29, 2017, 12:32:04 PM
So I'm considering moving from Indiana after I retire to somewhere the skies are generally clearer with less light pollution.
Of course I've considered Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, but I am concerned that I'm not going to like the warmer summer temperatures that come with the territory.

Are there locations that I have not considered (in the US) that are more temperate and still have clear unpolluted skies? There are several retirement financial considerations that need to be addressed, but if I just consider temperature and clear skies, what other places are there that I am not considering?

Old Star Gazer
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: David Lipson on December 30, 2017, 03:06:51 AM
The coastal range in California above the fog has tempered summer climate,, and lovely dark views. But remoteness, real estate prices, and protective 420 growers might be a minus considering retirement.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Randy Ott on December 30, 2017, 04:58:19 AM
The higher elevation areas in AZ, NM and Texas would not be as warm. I live in Flagstaff, AZ at 7000 and we rarely get into the 90's. You will have to deal with snow. Then there is Prescott and Sedona which do not get much snow but are a little warmer in the summer. Or get 2 homes like many do and enjoy the best of both
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: swadadanun on December 30, 2017, 09:53:02 PM
I used to go to Star Hill Inn which is 20 miles north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, on the east edge of the Sangre de Christo mountains.  IIRC winter evenings will sometimes get below freezing but not very far. Spring, summer and fall are very pleasant day and night. Dark skies, too.... And not expensive real estate either....

Dave
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: isanruptysp on December 31, 2017, 03:30:22 AM
Here in Alaska we can meet your dark skies needs ( at least in the winter!), but probably not your temperature window! Great Northern Lights though....☺☺☺
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Henry Edward on January 03, 2018, 11:58:14 AM
I've seen the advertisements for Star Hill and have read articles concerning. I agree it is remote and dark skies. I had forgotten about that area in New Mexico.

Maybe what I need to do is take the wife there and spend a few days there to see what its like! We went to Santa Fe and didn't think it was quite the location we would want to retire in.

Bruce
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Gregory Plummer on January 04, 2018, 08:23:56 AM
Quote
I used to go to Star Hill Inn which is 20 miles north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, on the east edge of the Sangre de Christo mountains.  IIRC winter evenings will sometimes get below freezing but not very far. Spring, summer and fall are very pleasant day and night. Dark skies, too.... And not expensive real estate either....

Dave

Sounded interesting enough that I googled it, and got this:

http://www.city-data...r-hill-inn.html (http://www.city-data.com/forum/space/588480-rip-star-hill-inn.html)
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: belmadeasus on January 08, 2018, 05:05:29 AM
Antarctica
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Michael Presley on January 09, 2018, 01:55:51 PM
Well epee, how about Georgia? as opposed to Antarctica??
I have a relative that retired there and understand the economy is pretty "retirement friendly"
Are the skies like Indiana in the respect of average clear skies? Dark sites?

Bruce
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Troy Furlong on January 09, 2018, 11:11:41 PM
One of the questions would be how rural is too rural for you? I remember the sitcom "Green Acres" and the country life is not for everyone. I live near Prescott and about 10 miles/ 15 minutes from the shopping district in Prescott Valley. There is some light pollution still, maybe dark yellow zone early evening, and light green after midnight. Northwest of Prescott about 25 miles are some very dark skies west of the road between Chino Valley and Paulden. Your probably a minimum of 40 minutes from their to the better shopping and major medical centers. The Prescott area is very hard to beat for year round weather. Right now it is hot during the day at close to 100, which is unusual, but it cooled down to the mid 60's last night. I am able to golf nearly year round. A few storms in the winter will keep me inside near the fireplace. Compared to most of Arizona this is not redneck heaven. You can say your a Democrat here and not get in a fist fight  .

Hope you find a nice place a little warmer then Antarctica.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: agtofonist on January 10, 2018, 01:47:18 PM
Gipht,

That is going to be a point of contention with the wife. I was raised on a farm in rural Indiana and am just fine with not being too close to civilization. The wife on the other hand prefers to live nearer the city life.

Right now I have to travel over an hour to my dark site and would prefer it to be closer. Ideally it would be my back yard, but realistically a half hour away would be manageable.

The weather has been unusually warm out west, hopefully its just an anomaly.

Bruce
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: grountentaybrig on January 10, 2018, 04:03:13 PM
Consider Colorado then....a couple of good sized cities.....and lots of dark skies.....and mountains.....and the Broncos...with 2 great weather systems....pick your poison, 5000 ft plains to the East, a bit higher and the high desert around the Colorado/Utah border. While the seeing is usually average, our transpareny is to die for....we even have fairly decent weather....can get cold at night though. And the scenery, the kind that give you that same feeling when you saw Saturn for the first time.....and we're also known for our sunsets. I was born, raised, escaped Indiana.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: micnoasolos on January 11, 2018, 06:10:40 AM
a coworker suggested looking at Colorado.. It should certainly be on the list!
I appreciate the candid and serious responses I have gotten!
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Micheal Luther on January 11, 2018, 11:37:14 AM
Well brother Bruce, you can pretty much write off anywhere east of the Mississippi right off the bat, It suffers from mediocre skies, at best, and steadily declining clear skies year by year. Much the same is true of the Pacific Northwest which probably has the country's least favorable weather patterns. That leaves you with the American Southwest as largely your only choice. But the druthers of your wife to live within convenient driving distance of a city is going to put a real crimp in your selection of locales. It is going to be very difficult to attempt to located an area unlikely to see significant population growth over your remaining years given that the U.S. population is projected to grow very significantly as the health of our economy returns while that of much of the Third World continues to decline and growing mass migration reaches our shores. More people, more lights...everywhere.

BrooksObs
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Frky Sherman on January 12, 2018, 06:15:15 PM
BrooksObs,

You certainly can see my dilemma then, can't you!?

I'm Scottish by descent and don't handle the hotter temps as well as I would like.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: miswalltile on January 13, 2018, 01:04:00 PM
When you say "temperate," do you mean warm winters as well as cool summers? There are plenty of places in the northern U.S. with relatively cool summers, but with the exception of the Pacific Coast, which is cloudy all winter long, they also have extremely cold winters.Best bet for temperate is high altitude at southerly latitudes. There are tons such locations in CA, AZ, NM, CO, and even Texas.Being near a big city and having dark skies is obviously a contradiction in terms. So you have to compromise -- how big, how close, how dark?Flagstaff, being a college town, punches well above its weight in culture/population ratio. And you can get to superb skies with an hour's drive. But I wouldn't exactly call Flag a big city -- more of a three-horse town.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Louis Sullivan on January 21, 2018, 03:24:51 AM
The OP may want to consider theNew Mexico Skies Astronomy Enclave.

http://www.nmsouthernskies.com/ (http://www.nmsouthernskies.com/)

Dave Mitsky
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: foarehortalp on January 22, 2018, 08:52:09 PM
Dave,

This is different than I have seen previously although I had looked at the area through Sperling' s http://www.bestplaces.net/ (http://www.bestplaces.net/)

Bruce
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: housletica on January 22, 2018, 09:17:07 PM
Quote
Well epee, how about Georgia? as opposed to Antarctica??
I have a relative that retired there and understand the economy is pretty "retirement friendly"
Are the skies like Indiana in the respect of average clear skies? Dark sites?

Bruce

I think you're going to find Georgia cloudy and humid -- like the rest of the Gulf states.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: behelphyri on January 22, 2018, 09:33:15 PM
Southwest US above 3000' altitude.
Clear skies, moderate temperatures.
Many locations in CA, NV, AZ, NM, UT, CO that qualify.
Not too high or it will always be cold.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Clyde Duke on January 22, 2018, 11:17:48 PM
We chose Silver City, NM. We're at 6,600 feet, so clear skies and more moderate temperatures than Phoenix where we now live. The high was 95F over 4th of July which was unusually high, but we left Phoenix at 116F! Silver City does get a bit of snow, but only a few inches a year. Winter temps drop below freezing but usually only at night.

We bought 20 acres about 5 miles west of town. We're still close to shops and such, yet enjoy 21.4 SQM-L skies. We hope to build our retirement home there but for now we have an off-the-grid cedar shed that acts like a cabin.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Zachary Tenk on January 23, 2018, 03:09:05 AM
Quote
The higher elevation areas in AZ, NM and Texas would not be as warm. I live in Flagstaff, AZ at 7000 and we rarely get into the 90's. You will have to deal with snow. Then there is Prescott and Sedona which do not get much snow but are a little warmer in the summer. Or get 2 homes like many do and enjoy the best of both

Similar in climate to Prescott is Payson. Prescott is northwest of Phoenix, Payson northeast. Payson's a tad more laid-back and a hair less "touristy" than Prescott or Sedona, especially Sedona.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: tiostaralzo on January 23, 2018, 03:10:34 AM
Some of my best high altitude observing was up on the Mogollon rim in BLM land east of Payson.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: biocaunico on January 23, 2018, 09:43:24 AM
Quote

The cliche is "but it's dry heat." The reality is that it's hot but it is dry and that goes a long way in making life palatable. That Midwest 92f with 90% humidity qualifies as downright uncomfortable..

As others have said, finding that balance, close enough to civilization, not too hot, not too cold, clear, dark skies.. Higher altitudes are cooler in the summer and down right cold in the winter.

Jon
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Mark Deutsch on January 23, 2018, 02:55:08 PM
Northern New Mexico is nice. Some friends have a place a bit SE of Chama that's in a great spot. Lots of secluded tracts around. The area is very short on services though. And you will still want to air condition your home up there even at 6-7000'. And they get quite a bit if snow. All the way across northern NM from around Dulce to about Cimarron is pretty cool when you're at altitude. Pretty country.

It's not warm in Texas in the summer, it's hot. Everywhere I know anyway.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: obinspumtou on January 25, 2018, 01:08:12 PM
Quote
When you say "temperate," do you mean warm winters as well as cool summers? There are plenty of places in the northern U.S. with relatively cool summers, but with the exception of the Pacific Coast, which is cloudy all winter long, they also have extremely cold winters.
Best bet for temperate is high altitude at southerly latitudes. There are tons such locations in CA, AZ, NM, CO, and even Texas.
Being near a big city and having dark skies is obviously a contradiction in terms. So you have to compromise -- how big, how close, how dark?
Flagstaff, being a college town, punches well above its weight in culture/population ratio. And you can get to superb skies with an hour's drive. But I wouldn't exactly call Flag a big city -- more of a three-horse town.

Wow, Tony you are URBAN!!

Flag has a metro area population of 140,000. That is a LOT more than three horses. Pretty close to Phoenix...... only a two hour drive. You hit Sedona within an hour.

Flagstaff meets almost all your needs and your wife's. Winters are not cold so much as snowy, but lots of sun. Everybody I know that lived there loved it. Even the Easter egg hunts in the snow...when spring comes late.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: outatnoha on January 25, 2018, 09:02:04 PM
I'd almost consider St. George UT.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Adam Rice on January 30, 2018, 06:15:06 AM
I passed through Flagstaff as a teenager in 1974. OK, I was almost 20. Anyway is was January and there was lots of snow on the ground. I remember it being a nice town then.

My financials will play a big part in my retirement living arrangements. A small place with a bed and a place for the telescope will be about it! Seriously, I will have to be prudent in how much I can afford.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: Eric Curry on January 30, 2018, 11:39:27 PM
I have found this light pollution atlas to be helpful even though the underlying data are now eleven years old: http://djlorenz.gith...erlay/dark.html (http://djlorenz.github.io/astronomy/lp2006/overlay/dark.html). On a large scale, you will see that the country is almost evenly divided into the bright (east) side and, except for a few large cities, the dark (west) side. On a small scale, you still can find dark places in rural parts of the east.

It sounds like you have a few years before retirement. Why not use vacation time until then to check out various locations for a week at a time? A good place to find clubs, whose members will have local knowledge, is the Astronomical League (www.astroleague.com). Once you are retired, move to the best candidate for an extended time, ideally a full year. Until you are sure it's the right place, don't make any commitments (e.g. buying real estate) that you can't undo fairly easily.

There are several CN threads on the subject of finding an astronomy-friendly place to live. Unfortunately, they aren't consolidated into one forum. (Maybe, it's worth adding a forum for that purpose.) You might try searching on state names in the Light Pollution forum.

Something else to consider is an RV. I live in Omaha, Nebraska which is hardly a Mecca for astronomy. It's hot and humid in the summer, cold and snowy in the winter, many nights are cloudy, and it's an hour or more to the nearest places (typically state or county recreation areas) with reasonably dark skies. One of the members of the local club has a large fifth wheel trailer. He and his wife spent the last two winters at an astronomy-friendly RV campground near Rodeo, New Mexico. Recently, we bought a minivan as an alternative to tent camping at dark sites. I'm an astrophotographer. If it's uncomfortable outdoors, I can sit inside the van with my computer taking advantage of heat or air conditioning. We are self sufficient except for a toilet. If we had a small motor home, travel trailer or truck camper with that, we could use places (e.g. wildlife management areas) that have no facilities at all.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: byhodete on January 31, 2018, 06:47:18 AM
nothing beats your backyard, but I could certainly consider RV'ing to a nearby dark site. I've looked at the same dark sky map and have given up on east of the Mississippi.

I honestly had not considered contacting clubs prior to vacationing. We did go to Santa Fe NM in December last year. Didn't see us living there. It was a high elevation. Perhaps the 3000-5000 ft level would be better and a good compromise for the weather as many have pointed out.

I do appreciate the helpful information members have shared.

Bruce
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: bandretaco on January 31, 2018, 10:31:57 AM
Quote
Next time you're up this way, drop me a post.

Quote

Some of my best high altitude observing was up on the Mogollon rim in BLM land east of Payson.

Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: teirazaro on February 02, 2018, 04:52:03 PM
Quote
Quote
Flagstaff, being a college town, punches well above its weight in culture/population ratio. And you can get to superb skies with an hour's drive. But I wouldn't exactly call Flag a big city -- more of a three-horse town.
Wow, Tony you are URBAN!!

Flag has a metro area population of 140,000. That is a LOT more than three horses. Pretty close to Phoenix...... only a two hour drive. You hit Sedona within an hour.

The three horses that I had in mind are Flag's economic base: Northern Arizona University, the tourism industry, and services for the Navaho reservation. Originally the railroad, but I bet that doesn't employ many people now.
I think of it as similar to the five-college area near me: Northampton/Amherst/Hadley/Sotuh Hadley Massachusetts. Many people would find that such an area satisfies all their urban needs; others would find it claustrophobic. It's of a size where you're going to get to know personally most of the like-minded people like you -- which has both its good points and its bad points. Very different from the infinite possibilities of a true metropolis, where you never run out of things to experience.

As for Sedona, it's cute enough, but it's far less of a city than Flagstaff.

Having said all that, I don't think you're going to find anywhere else in the U.S. that combines that level of urban sophistication with such easy access to excellent skies.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: salonpeli on February 04, 2018, 12:12:10 PM
I hear you on Sedona, but when you look at a typical urban area it takes a LOT of square miles to have the urban amenities that are packed into a tourist community like Sedona. You would drive a lot of miles to get the variety in Phoenix.

Talking to Forest Service employees the best weather is San Diego and the central California coast. Followed by higher elevation Arizona communities and communites like Silver City, NM.

Sierra Vista is cheaper than Flagstaff. No snow in winter. It is a hour or more from Tucson and you do have to cross the INTERNAL BORDER CONTROL points to go anywhere. I hate them. Makes me feel like I am back in the Soviet Union.

The perfect temperature out west, due to low humidity, is 85 degrees. That is shorts and t-shirt weather. When you get in the mid-90's and up is what I would consider hot. But then again, living in Boulder City, Nevada I could tell the difference between 115 and a cooling trend when the temperature dropped to 110.
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
Post by: longtichaten on February 09, 2018, 10:32:32 AM
In reference to the post by Kendahl above, I was in Rodeo, N.M. this past December and met his friend at the campground. Very nice people, Extremely helpful campground owners and campground, Portal Sky Village is just a couple of miles away to the west. Very dark skies!!!!! The drawback to the area is it is 60 miles or so to anywhere, and then you are still nowhere. Douglas, Az. is the closest town of any size for grocery shopping, doctors, movie, restaurant, library, gas, auto parts, etc., etc. That's 60 miles, one way. If your car won't start in the morning, and you can't fix it yourself, it's a loooong walk to town for help! The reason the skies are so good though, is it's so far away from everything.

You could live East of Tucson and take an RV out there. It's only about 130 miles! You'll find if you move out West, the previous statement is very apropos!!!! Distances in the East vs. West are VERY different. As somebody above said, try before you buy!!!
Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
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Title: Re: Locations with generally clear skies and cooler temperatures
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