Author Topic: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations  (Read 960 times)

ovhercayvic

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Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« on: December 23, 2017, 11:57:43 PM »
Hello

Hope this is okay to post here as one of my worries is light contamination.  Otherwise, moderators please move appropriately.

I'm trying to move south after I sell my house, and studying areas in NC to LA (the country).  Aside from darkness, I know other weather problems can come into play: haziness has been explained to me on the gulf shore in summer..number of cloudy days, etc.. .  I discovered a town or two near W VA that could be ok but they had been too small.  Considering all the issues I'm trying to appraise, some feedback on local weather, clear nights and darkness of some sample areas would be quite valuable.  Some of My concerns in choosing a place to move to are the following:

For or an assortment of reasons I'd like to be near a town of ~50k people -- give or take.  I'm not retiring, I'm self employed doing I.T. Work and hosting, so will require a market to sell myself.  All the superb small towns I have been finding wouldn't allow for as much work.  And I have a motorcycle I'd like to get serviced without driving 300 miles.  I don't need to drive an hour for markets... Things like this. .  I need just a small bit of culture and company and advantage.  These requirements limit me somewhat because I'm not financially able to rigorously follow the shadow.

I'm sort of wanting to about be SC/VA/KY/TN areas in order to make visits home to family in MA more realistic.  Why I'm not looking at southwest.  .  In addition, I figure it might be marginally less hot/humid n summer to be about the TN/KY latitude.  Although I have desired to live in LA for a long time. .  Was looking closely at breaux bridge LA..  I worry that there that the summers will be murder for celebrating.

1 town I discovered that resembles a possible is Berea KY..  I'm a bit concerned it is too small for finding work as a consultant.  But it looks ok (out of a northerners standpoint) on the light pollution map. .  And the magnificent dark skies of W VA are in driving distance.  Shorter drive than it requires me to get to cherry springs out of here .

I realize that I probably can not get it all, especially searching for a reasonable place. .  Can I mention?

But I thought I'd ask here to see if anyone has some ideas for places for me to checkout: some particular weather patterns to be aware of for specific areas, etc.. .  If you just happen to know of some towns within those areas of recommendation great!

Thank you!
Matt



ryarejalo

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2017, 12:00:40 AM »
I don't think you are likely to find anywhere that's REALLY dark.  Nor do I believe there are many locations you are not a reasonably short drive in the best heavens it is possible to expect for the SE.  What disturbs us is the weather.  Provided that you are coming from MA and no Utah, the weather and lights likely won't seem bad, possibly even better.

All of which to say is, I'd probably make the decision on your company prospects.  I don't have any clue how your line of work goes but I can imagine places being significantly different.  If you discovered a place in NC (just as an example) better company wise than a place in KY, I don't believe the difference in heavens will be anything to worry about.

ceplinglittfi

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2017, 10:08:25 AM »
<p>Matt,
</p>

In case you haven't seen it, then this page has a pretty extensive light pollution map:

http://darksitefinde...es-15color.html

I'm in central Florida so I can't comment much on the areas you are considering, but I can say that seeing conditions can be pretty great in Florida.  Simply read the comments on this site:

http://www.alpo-astr...ida_Seeing.html

Hope this helps

David Lipson

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2018, 12:15:33 AM »
I'm in Atlanta, but pretty familiar with the rest of the South. My dad lives in Boone, NC, it is a lovely place to live and fairly dark even near town. It is not far from some good dark skies on top of mountains. Asheville too is great. Both have access to dark skies, and both are genuinely nice places to live too. I have a hard time saying that about much of the South. I've lived in the South my whole life, from Louisiana to South Carolina. Outside of a few cities, most of the rural Southeast is a pretty awful place to be. I like Atlanta, but it is not a place for dark skies. The Mountain areas of North Carolina are very nice though. In Florida, anything north of Orlando and not on the Coast should be considered the 'Deep South', a hot sticky place without many redeeming features. The cities on the coast of florida are nice, especially on the Gulf, and not far from dark inland state parks.

The rest of the south... As long as you are away from mountains, the seeing is usually pretty good compared to Massachusetts. In the winter the seeing is usually worse, I'm typically limited to 200-250x before stars start looking pretty bloated. But winter in the south has really excellent transparency, so that's nice. Summer is the opposite, seeing is quite often excellent, but the humidity is so high that it is kind of like pointing a telescope through fog.

This past year though, all that is out the window. This has been the worst cloudiest year for astronomy I've seen since I got my first scope in 2002. But I don't think anyone east of the Mississippi has fared any better.

retaweawebs

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2018, 08:39:24 AM »
I sent you a private EMail which was pretty long, detailing some real concerns you should have about the region you are considering.

I would just like to point out here that people should not be thinking the dark skies in the WV and VA mountains are going to last much longer. Even this past year at Spruce Knob there were domes from Elkins and the rapidly growing I-79 corridor (Clarksburg--Morgantown) which were making inroads into the sky, not to mention that the eastern sky has not been truly dark for some time. The thing which saves it at the Knob is the altitude - the domes come out only when the haze is just so.

They have been plotting a four-lane through the mountains for decades and they'll build it eventually. And there are vacation homes going up all over the place north of the mountain around the ski areas. The region is actually quite bad for exurban sprawl. Look at a map and you will see the mountains are not really that far from the densely populated areas - the curvy roads just make them seem more remote.

That sky won't last. I've never heard one thing about protecting it, either. And it's not likely anybody around there would listen if somebody tried.

Glen

bersrorexnutg

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 11:22:25 AM »
thanks for valuable feedback!. I was thinking Carolinas would be slightly less hot/humid than deeper south. Though Athens (and a few others) looks good as a college town ,but it's deep.  Boone looks really nice but a little too cold. My friend Robert from AL has been telling me the same thing about the Deep South, it's the heat and humidity. I have been romanticizing it lately since I'm still using the heat! It's absurd. Asheville would probably be ideal for me but again was looking for more south. It's a strong contender for many reasons though. . It's obvious even to me I have too many requirements. Just throwing it all out there. Carolinas sound better and better. Paul, what are the weather patterns like around your area? Temps throughout year and cloud cover, humid seasons? . Know of any smaller nearby cities I should checkout? I was looking at Beaufort sc but there are two marine bases nearby that just destroy the darkness. I do have to checkout Berea KY though, sounds really nice.

FL or southwest is looking better, or Carolinas. I was hoping for a moderate year round temperate climate with a decent (not too large) business climate. I guess I could try a slightly larger city. Maybe go for the outskirts or something. Can always drive to darker skies.

im making a list of contending towns /regions that I plan to checkout this summer, so if you have any recommendations please let me know. I think I mentioned I'm divorcing, so I am looking for affordable places to buy a home, though as I told Glen, I'll obviously have to pay more for a good safe pleasant location if needed. To a point.

Teflon Mayorga

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 03:59:00 PM »
Like most of the east coast, this year has been horrible for astronomy. Not many clear nights, often hazy when it's "clear" and poor seeing the norm when it is truly clear. Normally, though, the fall, winter and early spring are quite nice. How much this is a one-off bad year or a true change in pattern remains to be seen.

I grew up out west and so I find a "dark" eastern sky to not truly be so. The first time I went out with a group from Baltimore (when I lived there) I nearly cried for what they called dark.

Given that, you might find it much nicer here. All along the Blue Ridge parkway in the mountains you can find spots that are very nice. I'm not as familiar with eastern NC but there are large stretches without much population. How much lighting the many farms and military outposts put out, I'm not sure. Greenville, NC might be an interesting area. East Carolina U. is there which includes a med school. It's a nice college town with, I would think, relatively dark skies not far off. Heading from there toward the Outer Banks the skies get fairly dark but there isn't much in the way of business. Boone does get some very nasty winter weather but not for nearly as long as MA would. You'd likely have a rough month up there and then it would be great. A lot of us head that way in the summer just to get a little relief. Eastern NC will be very muggy year round. A lot of North Carolinians harbor dreams of moving to Asheville. A great place to live - colleges, night life, nature, etc.

Come to it, Greenville/Spartanburg, SC might be fitting. Several colleges, a reasonable amount of business and, again, not too far from somewhat darkish skies. I think the Charlotte club has a site that direction.

The Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) has a lot of business and some wonderful places to live. Plus, it's just a couple of hours from Staunton River state park, which hosts two fantastic star parties per year and would make a good place to head for dark skies. There are a number of active amateur groups in Charlotte and Triangle. Neither of those areas would offer a really dark house with a reasonable commute but you'd be amongst a relatively large number of amateurs with dark skies not too far away.

I like NC a lot. It has a lot going for it in many areas. You can find good ole boys and country livin' and very modern, sophisticated culture within half an hour of each other. You can pretty easily be on a mountain top or beach with a half days drive from anywhere. We're far enough north to get a little bit of winter but not too much. It gets hot and humid but not like the more southern states. If the weather pattern of the early 00s would come back, it would be nearly perfect. If the weather pattern continues as for the last couple of years, it will be very bad for astronomy.

Ryan Fletcher

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 04:49:47 PM »
Quote
Hi

hope this is ok to post here as one of my concerns is light pollution. If not, moderators please move appropriately.

I'm looking to move south once I sell my house, and looking at areas from NC to LA (the state). Other than darkness, I understand other weather issues will come into play: haziness has been described to me on the gulf coast in summer..number of cloudy days, etc... I found a town or two near W VA that could be ok but they were too small. With all the issues I'm trying to evaluate, some feedback on local weather, clear nights and darkness of some sample regions would be very helpful. Some of My concerns in choosing a place to move to are the following:

for or a variety of reasons I'd like to be at least near a town of ~50k people -- give or take. I'm not retiring, I am self employed doing I.T. Work and web hosting, so will need a market to sell myself. All of the wonderful small towns I've been finding wouldn't allow for as much work. And I have a motorcycle I'd like to have serviced without driving 300 miles. I don't want to drive an hour for groceries... Things like that.. I need a little bit of culture and business and convenience. These requirements limit me somewhat since I'm not financially able to strictly follow the darkness.

I'm kind of wanting to roughly be SC/VA/KY/TN areas in order to make visits home to family in MA more reasonable. Why I'm not looking at southwest. . I also figure it might be slightly less hot/humid n summer to be around the TN/KY latitude. Although I have wanted to live in LA for a long time.. Was looking strongly at breaux bridge LA. I worry that there the summers will be murder for observing.

One town I found that looks like a possible is Berea KY. I'm a little concerned it's too small for finding work as a consultant. but it looks ok (from a northerners perspective) on the light pollution map.. And the awesome dark skies of W VA are in driving distance. Shorter drive than it takes me to get to cherry springs from here .

i realize I probably can't have it all, especially Looking for an affordable place.. Did I mention that?

But I thought I'd ask here to see if anyone has any ideas for locations for me to checkout: any particular weather patterns to be aware of for certain areas, etc... If you happen to know of any towns within these regions of recommendation great!

Thank you!
Matt

Asheville NC would be worth a visit. Beautiful city, lot's of art,music, food ect. They have an airport and you can be in a dark sky pretty quickly. A suburb just outside the city would be dark enough to view from your backyard. Check out the area on the dark sky map.

Chuck Johnston

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 03:49:59 PM »
The Wilmington, NC area would be a nice place to live - a college town right on the coast with some local high-tech industry, with a bit of surviving antebellum charm (spanish moss hanging off live oak trees, houses that look like owners spend time in summers drinking mint juleps out on the porch, etc). Although the skies in the immediate vicinity of Wilmington are light-polluted, you only need to 25-30 miles inland to the N/NW to find a nice pocket of blue zone skies - the caveat is finding a suitable, hospitable site to actually observe from (but there's a local astro club in Wilmington, and I'll bet they know the sites and secret handshakes etc to access them).

puzzweetscareg

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2018, 06:45:11 PM »
Hi,

Having lived in the south most of my adult life I can tell you it all gets very humid in the summer. Also once you get north of Florida your in the "cloud belt". I would offer the following suggestions:

Around Tallahasse Fl pop 186411
Around Pensacola, Fl pop 52703
St. Georges Island (can have great seeing and fairly dark at park) pop 3000 77 miles from Tallahasse
Spring Lake, Fl Pop less than 400? less than 1 hour drive to Tampa, 20 minutes to Brooksville pop 8000

I live in Spring Lake, rural comunity, easy drive to stores/ movies etc (15-20 minutes). Drive to Wesley Chapel 35 minutes or Tampa (50 minutes) for culture/fine dining etc. Pluses: Decent skies, rolling hills, great motorcycle riding for Florida, motorcycle shops nearby. Also taxes are low, and housing is cheap. Minuses= Slow internet.

Spring Hill, Fl 70 miles to CAV for dark steady skies with few bugs.

Southwest:

Prescott, Az pop 40590
Flagstaff, Az pop 69000
Silver City, NM pop 10275 (SW culture only)
Santa Fe, NM pop 70000

Robert Cavalli

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2018, 05:10:26 AM »
hey Matt, if it was me i'd concern myself with the economic/work thing first , that said my old bones would like the Carolinas, the scope stuff will be whatever it is. planetary/moon summers and in the winters you'll get some clear transparent skies. I just wanted to wish you the BEST of luck, gene

Jaimeylos Chiessa

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 10:38:33 AM »
Maybe Pueblo, Colorado....they make airplanes for visiting relatives....and there's a lot of dark skies around...

compjiggrehols

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 10:43:50 AM »
Matt,

Moving to the SE United States will have quite a few advantages vs. western MA. But there are some important considerations regarding weather and light pollution.

Unless you're way up in the Appalachians, you'll obviously have substantially less snow than in western MA. That will mean far fewer nights where light pollution is augmented by reflected snow cover. Less snow cover means less chance of low-level inversion layers forming that trap pollutants near the surface in wintertime.

Weatherwise, not all locations in the SE U.S. are equal. One thing is certain--to maximize the number of clear nights in the SE U.S., you have to be east of the spine of the Appalachian mountains (see the links below). Moist air flowing over the Appalachians will augment clouds and precipitation on the western slopes, while a (somewhat) drier air flow will prevail in the leeward side. This is particularly the case when comparing WV to VA, where the upslope component in WV's mountains is enhanced by residual moisture from the Great Lakes. A less dramatic, though still substantial, difference is shown between KY/TN and GA/NC/SC.

http://www.nrcc.corn...ccd/clpcdy.html
http://www.nrcc.corn...ccd/pctpos.html

Of course, the sections that have the better weather tend to have more light pollution. The terrain west of the Appalachian spine is generally rugged and gradually increases in elevation. Conversely, the terrain east of the spine tends to drop off rather dramatically, as anyone who's driven from Wyethville or Fancy Gap, VAn to Mt. Airy, NC. The relatively smooth terrain just east of the Appalachians is more conducive to development than at a comparable westward distance from the spine.

This isn't to say there aren't any good mountain locations. You can have those "island in the sky" kind of nights were it's clear and dry on the mountaintops, but fogged in through the valleys and lower elevations. But for playing the odds, east of the Appalachians is where you want to be. Best bet is "diversified portfolio" consisting of a primary residence/observing site east of the mountains, some other sites in the lower elevations/Piedmont (~1,000-ft MSL) and some sites in the mountains &gt; 3,000 ft. The Blue Ridge Parkway is chock full of parking lots that are usable sites.

Just my 1.4-cents' worth. It was worth two cents, but that's before taxes, insurance and 401(k) contributions.

Clear Skies,
Phil

inmactoopho

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 04:31:09 PM »
Be aware Asheville has similar weather to southern NY State, its a great area, but gets its winter. I'm outside of Charlotte, we have an active club and a dark site observatory, caac.org.
If your serious about visiting the NE, one thing I like is being near an Amtrak line, we travel it all the time, the car trip is just the pits.
Keep in mind though from LA to DC is the cloud and rain corridor.

Shane Proulx

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Re: Moving To southeast US, looking for recommendations
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 04:51:24 PM »
Quote
Be aware Asheville has similar weather to southern NY State, its a great area, but gets its winter.

I'd politely disagree. Asheville's average January temperatures (coldest month on average) are a respective high/low of 47°F/27°F, and the average seasonal snowfall is around one foot. Colder and snowier than Charlotte, yes, but New Yorkers, even those on Long Island, NYC, or Poughkeepsie would find "winters" in Asheville more benign than back home.

Combine that with an average July high/ow of 84°F/64°F (it's 2,000-ft up, after all), and that's one reason it's on my short list for moving to when (well, IF) I retire. All four seasons, but none of the extremes.

Clear Skies,
Phil