Author Topic: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US  (Read 634 times)

James Holt

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Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« on: December 24, 2017, 05:36:18 AM »
I'm looking into getting off the grid (well tethered more accurate) within a couple of years and building the fantasy - a personal observatory to finish my days quietly for another two or even two (god willing) romancing the heavens.  My plans are a comprehensive solar/wind powered subterranean house with observatory.

I've done some searches here in CN, so apologize if this seems just like an overdone re-post - however, I believe I might have some special requirements.
I even reached out to Atilla in Clear Sky Chart trying to get annual information for a site selection from the US (yes I know about Chile - not interested in external US for this thread).  He indicated SW California/Arizona/Baja border as probably the yearlong best place with greatest transparency and seeing.  I voiced interest in Eastern Nevada and he said he does not understand and does not have information to advise.

I'm interested to find other opinions and places I should think about.

Here are my demands (and these aren't easy to hit together...)

1) Dark, clear skies with excellent seeing for the maximum amount of times per year
2) accessibility to strong mobile cell phone system (rather 4g or other remote higher-speed net - suggestions?  I need 2-way for Skype-level (voice only) communications so satellite not really decent)
3) Higher elevation for transparency (thinking important, yes/no?)
4) Very low or no state taxation (Alaska or Nevada is searching the best, Florida or Texas possible but I think it's too low elevation and not great transparency?  I'm not impressed at all with Arizona or New Mexico for corp or personal tax rates and this is pretty critical for me as I run an internet company and if retiring will market assets)

Things I don't care about
1) easy access to a big city.  Wonderful advantage, but really not critical
2) temperature/climate/wind (I am exploring building a subterranean house, so would live on a mountaintop and observatory are subteranean also for wind protection, only roof/dome would be exposed)

I've recently been exploring central Nevada for imaging outtings (I reside in Oregon), and I don't hear it talked about much.  I've had great luck at Berlin-Ichthyosaur park.  7,000+ feet.  I'm looking farther Eastward and thinking about the valley south of Lund or even North of Ely (Great Basin Park, near this region, is consistently rated among the best places in the nation for star gazing).  I'm looking very hard in the region around Cherry Creek, Nevada, in elevation 6,200 feet or so, simple 45 minute accessibility to Ely for supplies but well inside darkest sky area (according to darksitefinder.com).  Additionally, it seems much of the property within this region may even be coated by high-speed net from cable suppliers.  Never imagined that would be potential.

Interested in more suggestions, genuinely interested to here from folks currently living the dream now in one of those locations and would really like to join and share notes how I could plan this adventure over the next few years.

My wife enjoys Florida, I thought I browse Florida is very poor overall for celebrating - but Atilla stated the Keys are superb for seeing.  That was a surprise - if Florida is something I should explore, proposed places?  Setting up at the Keys would be excellent, but would definitely raise the total cost significantly.  Might be well worth it though to keep your spouse happy.  Ya think?  Was thinking about trading her in for this though:http://arieotte-binoscopes.nl/  (jk of course...)

Thanks in advance for thoughts/experiences.  If someone is thinking to market - please do contact me.



nontpremlapi

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2017, 10:27:33 AM »
Absolutely out west somewhere.  The light pollution on the East Coast is awful.  Nevada/Texas has some very good locations.

I was recently surprised by my dim sky search that the strangest location on the East Coast is located only 40 minutes from where I now reside in Virginia.  But even that is not quite as dim as let us say Big Bend National Park in Texas... at least according to Dark Site Finder.

Richard Washington

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2017, 11:47:54 AM »
Generally speaking, a subterranean home in Florida isn't ideal due to low elevation and the aquifer beneath the ground. I can't speak for the keys, but the seeing in Central Florida is pretty bad, only letting up some during the winter months, and there are so little good dark sites left here.

knigabretta

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2017, 06:45:45 PM »
Quote
Generally speaking, a subterranean home in Florida isn't ideal due to low elevation and the aquifer beneath the ground. I can't speak for the keys, but the seeing in Central Florida is pretty bad, only letting up some during the winter months, and there are so little good dark sites left here.

Ah yes of course, I should have made that clear. I lived in Florida for a year so I know well how shallow the aquifer is. No, if we go with Florida, it would be an above ground strategy of course. Also, yep, you validated what I had read/was thinking that Florida overall would be poor. But the Keys? That's intriguing - anyone with experience there? According to Darksitefinder- light pollution looks pretty bad:
https://gyazo.com/d8...954ab16bdd2a468

adlamontma

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2017, 03:26:45 AM »
Adding - here is the area I'm most intrigued about (screen shot from Darksitefinder, this is Eastern Nevada near Ely). The highlighted circled areas I've researched have great 4g cell coverage, and as I mentioned, it appears Cherry Creek may even offer high speed broadband:
https://gyazo.com/a9...4f42e728d8a6d3a

Saul Zhang

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2017, 12:30:14 AM »
How about Westcliffe/Silver Cliff Colorado?

http://www.coloradoi...fe-silver-cliff

I'm sure there are plenty of dark places in Wyoming or the Dakotas if taxes are too high in Colorado.

brentioscaraph

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2017, 06:51:26 AM »
The area around Baker, east of Ely is famous for it's high altitude and dark skies.

Patrick Zhu

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2017, 09:15:08 PM »
I'm not very familiar with the lower 48 but am a bit with Alaska which would be perfect but I have to mention that it has the long hours of summer daylight. Great in the fall, winter and early spring though. Coastal AK cities/towns have warmer weather but also coastal clouds and rain. Fairbanks would be ideal as it's a modern city with modern amenities, centrally located in the interior with great skies.

I note you mention that you're not interested in anything outside the USA and totally get that but have to mention that it sometimes saddens me that we do not have more freedom of living and economic venture between our two countries as I can think of several sites here in the Yukon and elsewhere in rural northern Canada that would fit all your requirements perfectly. Perhaps sometime in the future our children or grandchildren that are passionately into this hobby will be better able to take advantage of the last frontier of dark skies in North America.

Best of luck in your noble searchcfichter.

omunsopoo

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2018, 12:10:11 AM »
Quote
The area around Baker, east of Ely is famous for it's high altitude and dark skies.

Excellent. thx for validating. I will investigate further out there. Internet coverage critical though, I don't see any cell coverage out there, and East of Baker is Utah! That's a no go. Unfortunately lack of adequate cell/internet ends up excluding a lot of places. That's why I'm really curious about Cherry Creek. Baker is only 5100 feet, Cherry Creek is over 6000. But same vicinity, appreciate the response.

Mike Heck

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2018, 02:38:37 PM »
Quote
Generally speaking, a subterranean home in Florida isn't ideal due to low elevation and the aquifer beneath the ground. I can't speak for the keys, but the seeing in Central Florida is pretty bad, only letting up some during the winter months, and there are so little good dark sites left here.

Look up the Winter Star Party and the reports in the Star party forum for great reviews of the views from the Florida Keys. The seeing is 'legendary'. Wish I didn't live so far from there.  Some great planetary observers/imagers like Don Parker lived in central Florida but likely not as dark as the Keys.

Ivan Kim

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2018, 02:33:40 PM »
Quote
I note you mention that you're not interested in anything outside the USA and totally get that but have to mention that it sometimes saddens me that we do not have more freedom of living and economic venture between our two countries as I can think of several sites here in the Yukon and elsewhere in rural northern Canada that would fit all your requirements perfectly.
Oh no, no. don't misread, I simply said for this thread. I'm definitely looking at international locations as well. For tax reasons short term though, probably US only, might be far too complicated until I sell the businesses, I'm planning to operate out of this location we select for a few more years first. Wife is a Canadian transplant btw from Alberta, we are both dual citizens and our son too. love Canada!

Santosh Wolf

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2018, 04:12:40 PM »
Quote
Quote

Generally speaking, a subterranean home in Florida isn't ideal due to low elevation and the aquifer beneath the ground. I can't speak for the keys, but the seeing in Central Florida is pretty bad, only letting up some during the winter months, and there are so little good dark sites left here.

Look up the Winter Star Party and the reports in the Star party forum for great reviews of the views from the Florida Keys. The seeing is 'legendary'. Wish I didn't live so far from there.  Some great planetary observers/imagers like Don Parker lived in central Florida but likely not as dark as the Keys.

You know, there is something to this possibly. I still recall, one of the absolute best ever seeing nights I experienced was an August night on the Oregon coast. I always thought directly over bodies of water (or ocean) was not good due to humidity/moisture/vapor - but it was simply remarkable. However, the light pollution over the Keys looks quite poor. I think that knocks it out of consideration.

Marquise Nation

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2018, 07:31:54 AM »
Quote
How about Westcliffe/Silver Cliff Colorado?

http://www.coloradoi...fe-silver-cliff

I'm sure there are plenty of dark places in Wyoming or the Dakotas if taxes are too high in Colorado.

Nice article, thank you very much for sharing. I looked up the elevation - 7,800 wow!
However... also getting saturated with light pollution:
https://gyazo.com/b8...d372bd81cf4a3f1

But, maybe I'll take a closer look at Colorado and Utah. I didn't realize that high of elevation difference from Nevada.

Abdullahi Archer

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2018, 11:04:24 AM »
The high desert portions of New Mexico and Arizona might meet your needs. The California Sierra Nevada has some nice dark skies but the taxes are high.

Cameron Artist

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 05:14:50 AM »
The southern tip of Nevada is not far at all from Mexico. So if you're considering southern Arizona and southern California, southernmost Nevada is much the same meteorologically.

Dark skies and good internet is almost a contradiction in terms. No doubt there are exceptions, but dark skies only exist in large areas of very low population density, and these are bound to yield high costs and low profits to internet providers.