Author Topic: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites  (Read 412 times)

Jairo Zilinskas

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Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« on: December 29, 2017, 11:37:32 PM »
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



gatawestwall

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2018, 09:49:51 PM »
Are you looking for low desert(hot, and I mean really hot Summers), 4 seasons high desert, or high altitude mountain regions? This State has it all.

meisporbiopop

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2018, 03:57:45 AM »
Thanks for the reply.  Not a desert person, nor interested in Cold/Snow(we already have that here), so I guess 4 seasons high desert. Of course, I have no ideas how hot/cold the 4 seasons get-just taking a guess.

Jeremy Kelley

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 03:57:36 PM »
Check New Mexico instead.  They've started an astronomy village/community between Deming and Silver City....

Isaac Griffin

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 12:39:06 AM »
Try high desert in NW Arizona. Kingman, Seligman, Ash Fork, Williams. All small towns. Kingman has the hospital. The farther East you go the higher, and therefore cooler, it gets. Flagstaff is about 7000' elevation, averages 108" of snow annually. Kingman about 3500' elevation and 0.1" of snow. Kingman; Winter: days; usually mid 50's to high 60's, nights; upper 30's to low 40's. Summer: days; high 90's with 5% humidity, nights; mid 60's. June 15 to Sept. 15 can be rainy at times, maybe 6 thunderstorms (depending on where you are) per summer. Anywhere along the river is low elevation and hotter than H--- in the summer.PM for more info.

refiruppho

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 10:10:34 AM »
See Grand Canyon Star Party post in other forum section.

arovuzar

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 09:16:56 AM »
That should have read Grand Canyon CAVERNS star party

elunmolunch

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 05:17:02 PM »
Thanks everybody for your input. I appreciate that. Wife wants Arizona. I let her pick the home(astronomy is my concern). We just have some looking/decisions to make. I have to figure out how to incorporate a 18" Newtonian and a 6" f10 Jaegers refractor, 8" Dynascope Deluxe and a William Shaefer mount(for other scopes) into one roll off? I'm telling her it is going to be a little shed(sure).

Darren Hatch

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2018, 01:04:11 AM »
We have also been looking around Arizona.You might want to plug in the locations into a weather app and then compare all at once.  We did drop one location in Utah when we found out is was hotter than most areas in Arizona in summer and colder than most in winter.Look around Tucson since they have a dark sky ordinance.I was in Arizona during the 1970's and was really disappointed at how much more light pollution there is now than then.  One reason for Tucson is that the black beyond town might have a chance of staying black for a few more years.Good luck in your search.

presalacder

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2018, 03:22:54 AM »
Just keep an eye open for those insanely bright LED billboards that the state of Arizona now allows; you can read the sordid details in  this CN thread.

How soon we forget...

Jerry Gilbert

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2018, 04:05:01 AM »
I've lived in Arizona for 51 years, most of it in Tucson. As noted already, we have a broad range of climate zones. Phoenix and Casa Grande are low desert, really hot and dry. The places on the Colorado River - Yuma, Parker, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu - are hot and humid. Flagstaff - where I lived while attending college - gets really cold and gets quite a bit of snow in some years. During the years I was there we had one solid week of temps well below zero (F), even in daytime. The thing I remember most about Flagstaff's climate was incessant wind - we'd regularly see people on bicycles being blown backward. I still love the place, though.The nicest climate in the state, IMO, is Prescott's. The actual city of Prescott is a bit higher than most of the towns around it, with a lot of greenery and conifer forest. If I could afford it, that's probably where I'd live. Prescott Valley is a town just east of Prescott at just a bit lower elevation, and it has been growing a lot because it's a bit warmer and not as pricey. Lots and lots of retirees.Tucson and southeastern Arizona have a lot to offer. Tucson is not quite as hot as Phoenix or Casa Grande. The central parts of town are about 2500 feet elevation, and it's surrounded by mountains. We live on acreage just outside the city on the far east, and our driveway is at 2900 feet. It's usually about 8-10 degrees cooler than what you'll see on the nightly weather report for Tucson.* Popular areas around Tucson - Green Valley, Sahuarita, Vail, Corona de Tucson - and the southeastern towns - Benson, Bisbee, Sierra Vista, Tombstone, Sonoita, Patagonia - are bit higher and cooler still. The exception is to the northwest, where it gets lower and hotter, e.g. Marana.  Tucson still has hot summers, sometimes with days of 110F and more, but it's strangely tolerable because it's dry and it still cools off at night, unlike Phoenix or the river cities. I have little problem walking 18 holes or playing a game of tennis at mid-day in June, as long as I keep hydrated. I could never do that in Phoenix, San Diego or Florida.I do regard Tucson, though, as pretty highly light-polluted. There are observatories in mountains to the north, west and south at varying distances away, and the light pollution ordinance was intended to protect the financial benefit of having those "clean industry" facilities here. Sadly, I think it's been something of a joke, though. The ordinance seems to apply only to large private businesses. While those entities have to comply with strict lighting limits, the City has parks all over town with huge lighted athletic facilities, and the school districts and University of Arizona have much the same. And as lighting for homes has become more energy-efficient, it seems like homeowners have just added more lights to their yards, walks and driveways. It's hard to blame them when you realize that they want to do things outside at night because it's hot during the daytime - same reason we don't have daylight savings time. Needless to say, Phoenix is far, far worse. I assume it and its nearby suburbs are not up for consideration. If light pollution were my top concern in looking for a place to live, though, I'd stay away even from Tucson despite the vaunted light ordinance. Even in the semi-rural area where we live, conditions for viewing the sky have deteriorated badly over the past ten to fifteen years. A decade ago, people who got out of their cars at night in our driveway were awed by the sight of the Milky Way in summer, and the Andromeda Galaxy was a clearly visible decoration in our fall/winter sky. Now, even on a moonless night, unless the sky is absolutely vapor-free, I can easily read the white engraving on my eyepieces without need for any light of my own. Dark skies can still be found within an hour's drive or less, but it's nothing like it used to be setting up in the clearing about 100 feet from our garage. If I demanded what that experience used to be, I'd be looking in some of the smaller places that aren't horribly remote, like the towns between Phoenix and Prescott - Black Canyon City, Mayer, Dewey-Humbolt, maybe New River - or in the towns east or south of Tucson. *Take the temperature reporting with a grain of salt. "News" stories in recent years have reported that we've been having "record" high temps. I have records that say otherwise - it was hotter in the 1990's and WAY hotter in the 1960's.

inlaylale

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2018, 04:08:26 AM »
Wow, Thanks everyone for this additional NEEDED info. Special Thanks to Messierthanwhat for detailed info. Now I'm now less sure of where to go. I will look "up' when we get there.  Given my innate "fear" of Space Travel" , I wish now I had a baby hubble. NO weather/light polution!

kerolero

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 08:51:16 AM »
Hi Vladimir and Starsareus, Most of Arizona has dark skies ordinances. In Mohave County, as best as I can tell, the ordinance was enacted in 1987. What I do know is, I live about 20 miles to the NE of Kingman and have excellent dark skies. In high cloud conditions I can see a small light dome from Las Vegas and a much smaller one from Kingman. When the skies are clear the domes are nearly invisible. For reference see the thread under Observatories titled "Hualapai Valley Observatory". The observatory is about 10 miles to the NW from me, closer to Las Vegas and away from a mountain that blocks most of the light from L.V. for me.In the post above the author mentions Prescott. He is correct, Prescott is a very nice small city, good climate, though colder than Kingman.

Joe Hall

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2018, 05:38:40 PM »
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.

raposttavers

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Re: Arizona and Amateur Astronomy sites
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2018, 03:57:49 AM »
Quote
We have also been looking around Arizona.

You might want to plug in the locations into a weather app and then compare all at once.  We did drop one location in Utah when we found out is was hotter than most areas in Arizona in summer and colder than most in winter.

Look around Tucson since they have a dark sky ordinance.

I was in Arizona during the 1970's and was really disappointed at how much more light pollution there is now than then.  One reason for Tucson is that the black beyond town might have a chance of staying black for a few more years.
 
Good luck in your search.

 Same here, Vladimir. We really enjoyed the Tucson/Oro Valley area, and will be thrilled to leave the Wenatchee Valley farrrr behind!
 There is something quite magical about the desert down there. I'd love a truly dark site to live, but appreciate the benefits of being near a large city, as well. Maybe we will wind up somewhere like Casa Grande, someday.
 Regards, Kyle