Author Topic: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites  (Read 411 times)

Richard Washington

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 140
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2018, 12:22:14 AM »
I'll add that the native tarantulas, scorpions and giant desert centipedes are also factors to be considered.

Ray Gibas

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 131
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2018, 07:38:45 PM »
Quote
We have stayed for several months in Arizona during the past four winters.Congress which is between Prescott and Phoenix was a neat spot and close to the monthly Wickenburg Star Party.  However, the light dome from Phoenix is just getting higher and higher.  Like Messier says when the water vapor is up the dome grows in size.  We had a couple of "humid" days and I was surprised how high the dome was in the sky.We also spend a lot of time in Benson.  There is a glow from Tucson, but it pretty much hugs the horizon.  You get very good skies even on the edge of town.  Benson has a Wal-Mart, Safeway, a great Radio Shack, and a good hardware store.  That's it.  45 minute drive to Tucson.Benson is close to a lot of birding sites, including the San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area.  Lots of history in the valley, including buried Confederate soldiers on National Forest land outside of town.Couple of hours will get you to Portal, Hidago and Granite Gap astronomy developments.  Tom Clark's "development" is also in the area.  At this point, Silver City comes into play.  Neat town.  I would also look here.  I did know several Forest Service folks that lived there and they said it was the best climate in the US.  Same comment about Sierra Vista, south of Benson.Phoenix is a total loss in my opinion.  However, lots of astronomy clubs and people to observe with and share experiences.  The other advantage is observing in t-shirt and shorts.  There is a lot to be said to be able to do that.The lower Colorado River area is hot like Phoenix.  We stayed in Yuma and Bullhead City it was fairly bright. Then the casino's have their skylights that totally destroyed the sky in Bullhead City. Our favorite place is Sedona-Cottonwood.  Skies are as dark as Benson.  However, for the future not sure how much farther north Phoenix can move.  Sedona-Cottonwood is really a small area of private land surrounded by BLM and Forest Service managed land.  So there is a limit to development in the area!!  Prescott dropped off our list due to traffic and it really is a big city now!!  We would like to stay under 50,000 in population.  Never did see the sky in the Prescott area.One advantage to Arizona is the low humidity and low light scatter when it comes to astronomy.  That's it.  All I know about Arizona.
Lots of good observations here.Almost any place in Arizona will be a great improvement over Conn.    It depends on how remote you're willing to be.   If you want to be remote, then any town on I-40 (Holbrook, Williams) would be an appropriate place to look at.   Flagstaff is an interesting compromise of modest city luxuries (major stores and major Hospital) and dark skies.   If you're willing to live in a suburb that lies 20+ miles out of town (with lot sizes ranging from 1-4 acres), then it's a good compromise solution.    While it does snow, you will get about 15 clear nights a month from Oct to Feb.   Further south, Prescott and Verde Valley (Camp Verde) are slightly warmer alternatives as you move down toward Phoenix.   Definitely worth checking out if you're planning a scouting mission.As mentioned above, Benson (45 miles east of Tucson) would be a nice place to live.  The views of the southern constellations can be a real plus.  Downside would be the hot summers.Probably should mention that much of AZ experiences a summer monsoon season.   Which means the best viewing will generally be in the winter.Before we moved out here, we looked at homes during the day AND night to make sure there weren't any obnoxious neighbors with 1000 watt "security lights".  (Turns out there is a neighbor with obnoxious lights that are on 4-5 nights a month.)

Jeff Ramirez

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 114
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2018, 01:00:56 AM »
Quote
Wife & I are making our first trip to Arizona in April to sight-see and check out potential towns to re-locate from Connecticut.  Any ideas on good and not good towns/areas to do Astronomy(visual/imaging)? If we leave here to lower the cost of living, I'd like to spend more nights under the stars instead of under the roof!  Thanks

There are many many good places in Arizona.  You do need to pick the climate you want to live in.

Cottonwood is also a nice little sleepy town with decent amenities.  I imagine you can get a place on the edge of town and have good skies.  It's also not growing like Prescott Valley and I think the houses are a lot cheaper.  You're 1.5 hrs from North Phoenix there, and probably about the same to Flagstaff.  It's still fairly hot in summer, but not Phoenix-melt the pavement-hot.

Summer viewing in the lower desert is not... well... pleasant!   It's still 90F+ at night and there are so many thermals you might as well be at the bottom of a swimming pool!  If you get up early in the morning (say 3am-5am) then it calms down to nearly reasonable temps and conditions.  But pretty much after the monsoon is over ( July-Sept ) and up until about May are really nice.

If you don't mind being away from major cities, then there's a ton of choices, Benson, Williams, Holbrook, Page, Pine, Strawberry, Cottonwood, Fort Verde, Globe.

We actually nearly bought some land up in Silver City NM though.  On the outskirts it's quite dark. 

There's also the community between Silver City and Deming.   It's super dark there and you can buy the land and plop down a manufactured home for very little $$$, so you have enough left over for an observatory.  Tom Clark (as mentioned before) lives there with his 40" reflector, as well as several other astronomers.

Is there a reason for AZ vs New Mexico?   Taxes and such are lower in NM!  Overall cost of living is lower too.

meenchinobun

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 122
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2018, 01:22:57 AM »
One tidbit about Tucson is the really HOT weather from June through Sept also coincides with our rainy season, so likely not observing.We pay for our gorgeous weather the rest of the year with those 4 months.

reapriavoland

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 108
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2018, 04:51:15 AM »
Arizona climate averages, 1981-2010:
http://www.atmos.was...rmals.2010.html

New Mexico climate averages, 1981-2010:
http://www.atmos.was...rmals.2010.html

Clear Skies,
Phil

erexgila

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 136
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2018, 07:10:43 PM »
Much good information in this thread.  An additional set of considerations should relate to whether you are still working, or retired.  The best (read:highest paying) jobs are to be found in the larger cities.  The best opportunities for healthcare, shopping, and misc. resources rest in the larger communities.   Chances are, that you will find significantly differing cultural values in small communities in Arizona, from those in Connecticut.  Research the social values of the proposed communities along with the climate and sky quality. Hint:  Ranchers (not the drugstore type) don't much care about dark skies. At the same time, some of those folks are among the finest, hardworking human beings you can find.Before you buy the airline tickets, PM some of the 'Zonies on Cloudy Nights for more detailed discussion.

spicomgeovio

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 125
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2018, 12:50:06 PM »
Well, seems I would have a new mix of issues there-Tarantulas-Really! Seems like when winter weather is not good here-Summer is not good there! Wife likes Sedona-Sure, after I win Lotto. Thanks for everones detailed info. This gives me more than I expected to discuss with CFO.

turtnaneade

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 126
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2018, 10:53:02 PM »
Quote
Well, seems I would have a new mix of issues there-Tarantulas-Really!

There aren't a lot of tarantulas in Arizona, and the ones that do live there are harmless. Scorpions are another matter ...

Zac Johnson

  • Jr. Astronomer
  • **
  • Posts: 96
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2018, 06:25:12 AM »
Most of the tarantulas we see are males, looking for girlfriends in the Fall.  The scorpions are nocturnal and glow with a bluegreen color under UV light.  Scorpions can be readily dispatched, by picking them up with forceps, and testing their swimming ability. (Grade: F) The centipedes are charming, and rarely seen outside of the Summer Monsoon.  No one I am aware of keeps the statistics, but I suspect that the scorp, tarantula, and centipede deaths due to humans is significantly greater than the bites and stings inflicted by them on humans.

Nathan Roberts

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 129
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2018, 10:43:34 AM »
Thanks Tony(I think). Maybe I need to learn any medthods to discourage these scorps? Jwemes has a good idea about using UV light at night-I could equip. my observatory with UV lights pointed at floor? I don't want to add scorpion patrol to my imaging routine unless I have to.

David Varnavas

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 108
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2018, 04:50:43 PM »
Tarantulas are much maligned beings. Most people (me) just pick them up and take them back outside. Their bite is no worse than a bee sting. I spent a bit more than three winters in Arizona and decided not to settle there. If I were you I would concentrate on the northern half of the state. The southern half is too hot, has too many creepy crawlies, is hard on dogs (cactus spines, rattlesnakes), and, too far south, has all the hassles with the border, security at observing sites, etc. If you end up liking the southern part, I would take a close look at Sierra Vista.Good luck.Dark skies.Jack

izweekwardmas

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 135
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2018, 09:09:38 PM »
Thanks Mountain Monk for your perspective-I totally forgot about rattlesnakes ! They are NOT on my ok list(regular snakes are ok). Also prefer no security issues/Border . We are now older and prefer to avoid issues like these. This is more info to consider.

adlaycomsu

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2018, 07:30:36 AM »
Rattlesnakes: Seven species, at least, and in some place--Organ Pipe--an incredible density. I like rattlesnakes, but even I was getting a bit tired of them. Also take a look at the Verde Valley--my sister lived for awhile and I often visited. Away from the crowds and reasonably inexpensive.Dark skies.Jack

John Trujillo

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 122
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2018, 10:51:14 AM »
Most of the concern about critters is completely unwarranted. There are none as dangerous as humans, and most really dangerous non-human animals - like moose and grizzly - we don't have. Rattlesnakes are here, but you avoid about 99% of them just by staying out of washes - not a great place to set up a telescope, anyway. I've had a couple of them in my garage in 50+ years, and we might see one somewhere on our four acres two or three times a year. They're much more afraid of us than we are of them, and they do a really good job of avoiding us by sensing all the vibration we generate in moving around. It's hard to actually get bit - all but a tiny fraction of snakebites are to people who are drunk and deliberately handling a snake. Generally, I like having them around - the snakes, not the drunks - to control the pack rats. Those are the critters that will really do damage, because they just love to chew on all kinds of wiring.The border issues, on the other hand, are most worrisome in the rural parts of southern Arizona. There are huge amounts of vandalism, fires and trash along the smuggling routes, which are numerous. Quite a few of the people you might encounter moving around in the desert at night are dangerous, but again, if you look for and stay away from the rivers of trash, you'll usually avoid those people