Author Topic: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US  (Read 150 times)

Chris Smale

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2018, 06:54:05 AM »
Tony has a good point. If you want 4G it won't be in any dark area I know of. I don't have 4G and only one mediocre ISP and my skies are only Bortle 2 to 3. Bortle 1 areas are in Timbuktu.

It would be interesting to overlay a light pollution map with a 4G coverage map but I think the two are pretty much mutually exclusive and any spot that looks good is probably pretty marginal in reality.

cromsotejbi

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 06:11:45 PM »
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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.

Yep, as I said in OP, this isn't going to be easy to meet the requirements.

And yes TCW, I've been researching extensively for coverage. I have Verizon - here is their coverage map:
http://vzwmap.verizo...efault.aspx?zip

So I've been doing all these crazy transparencies with Photoshop and overlaying on topography maps - believe it or not, there are a good number of great dark sky locations that have full 4g coverage. And I can verify, I checked out a few locations this past month and the coverage map was really quite accurate.

However, getting full broadband/high speed would be ideal, that's why I'm leaning heavily to Cherry Creek Nevada atm. Cherry Creek seems to have 4g coverage, and check this out - Cox offers full high speed there:
http://www.bluefirec...cherry-creek-nv

So no, I'm not giving up hope, that's why I'm canvassing here to see what others have done. Can't imagine I'm the first with this plan.

bersrorexnutg

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2018, 08:10:29 AM »
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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.
I know that area very well, you seriously have to drive 4-5 hours minimum to escape Las Vegas lights. It's silly:
https://gyazo.com/85...a6dc2f22e23e599

tenewbandhams

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2018, 03:42:06 PM »
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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.

Yep, as I said in OP, this isn't going to be easy to meet the requirements.

And yes TCW, I've been researching extensively for coverage. I have Verizon - here is their coverage map:
http://vzwmap.verizo...efault.aspx?zip

So I've been doing all these crazy transparencies with Photoshop and overlaying on topography maps - believe it or not, there are a good number of great dark sky locations that have full 4g coverage. And I can verify, I checked out a few locations this past month and the coverage map was really quite accurate.

However, getting full broadband/high speed would be ideal, that's why I'm leaning heavily to Cherry Creek Nevada atm. Cherry Creek seems to have 4g coverage, and check this out - Cox offers full high speed there:
http://www.bluefirec...cherry-creek-nv

So no, I'm not giving up hope, that's why I'm canvassing here to see what others have done. Can't imagine I'm the first with this plan.
In my area the only carrier that works at all is Verizon but their coverage claims are a bunch of poop in my location. Cell phones only function in very limited spots here if there is any coverage at all and most services like messages don't work until I drive 25 miles to the nearest town. This is in California so I would tend to think that coverage in even more sparsely populated areas might be worse. First hand verification would be essential I think. I do have land based internet service but I am held hostage by the only phone company here.

Jesse Kaine

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2018, 03:41:29 AM »
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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!
One thing to remember about the North is that, not only are the winters brutally cold, but the mosquito issues in the summer. Alaska is famous for their swarms of mosquitoes. Not as many mosquitoes in the southwestern US. And astronomy may still be doable in the winter time in some parts.

Stanley Edwards

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2018, 04:29:21 AM »
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One thing to remember about the North is that, not only are the winters brutally cold, but the mosquito issues in the summer. Alaska is famous for their swarms of mosquitoes. Not as many mosquitoes in the southwestern US.
I'm a pretty hardy dude, comfortable with outdoor hardships. I do remember bad mosquitoes up in northern Alberta on visits also, but I'm sure that is a seasonal/ temporary occurrence. Every region has something like that. I lived in Arizona for 10 years in multiple locations. I was stung by a scorpion once in the shower (far less painful than you might think, only a tad more painful than a wasp or bee sting), I awoke and drove down our lane one morning to see dozens of tarantulas all over the road after a heavy rain (beautiful site though), was drinking tea one morning and a giant tarantula was on the wall 2 feet from my face, and I had two close rattlesnake encounters. So, you take your chances everywhere, hey, we share nature with the critters. I have noticed in high desert Oregon and Nevada there seems to be far less insect critters - but we have ample rattlesnakes, mountain lions/cougars, coyotes (harmless though just noisy) and bears - so go figure. There is also an element of human danger in some of the US remote regions, probably far more a concern than mosquitoes. Fortunately/unfortunately we have lax gun laws out here, and I was fired at once on BLM land very deep in a remote area (just warning shots from a semi-automatic) so I knew I was not welcome in that valley. I never go to a remote observation site without checking with locals first, and I take my firearm always. No I'm not a gun-freak, but I will tell you, at 2am in ghostly quiet high desert all alone, you feel a bit more relaxed at the eyepiece knowing you have some form of protection. I do hope I never have to use it. I have a full observation tent around me and that gives me a sense of security also. This is my current mobile setup:
https://gyazo.com/b4...f859af72d1f66bd

from the inside:
https://gyazo.com/6f...ee7a241c6ba7e4b

akbrevecop

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2018, 11:07:01 PM »
Why reinvent the wheel?

http://tucsonastrono...ronomy-complex/

http://tomclarkbooks.com/NMAV.html

There is more to life than fiddling with unreliable (yes it's all unreliable to some extent) astro imaging gear and software.

Carlos Watson

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #22 on: January 23, 2018, 10:38:06 AM »
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Why reinvent the wheel?

http://tucsonastrono...ronomy-complex/

http://tomclarkbooks.com/NMAV.html

There is more to life than fiddling with unreliable (yes it's all unreliable to some extent) astro imaging gear and software.

Definitely interesting. I will look into those, thanks for sharing. I've heard about some other dark sky communities also. Again, Arizona and New Mexico are lower on my list though for other reasons.

As for fiddling - I think you have to have OCD to some extent to pursue this hobby. Look, we all can download great hubble photos. The actual fiddling IS the joy for me... getting all the technology to work successfully - I love to tinker. This hobby has kept me enchanted for quite a while now due to the complexities, setbacks, false starts, expenses... but then the utter joy when it works. The odds of a successful night are possibly far worse than retiring as a one-arm bandit on the slots in vegas soaking my liver in alcohol - but the adrenaline reward of the intermediate successes of astro-photography is totally worth it. The fragility I hope is from my mobile adventures though, that's why I'm motivated to finally pursue a formal private observatory of my own, to try to eliminate some of the frequent setup and fragility of the mobile setup experience.

nostcharmacon

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2018, 03:17:41 PM »
When we were faced with a similar decision, we realized picking up evertlything and starting a new life somewhere else was unrealistic. That would have meant leaving our friends and family, the beaches, and year around climate at home. So we started looking close to home..

I was willing to compromise on the darkness of the sky, other factors are at least as important, the climate, nearness to medical facilities, the number of clear nights.. The liveabilty is every important. For dark dark skies, one can always toss the scope in the motorhome..

We settled on a small second home in the nearby high desert in the community of Boulevard, California. The skies are clear close to 300 nights per year, its about 70 miles from San Diego, the mobile wireless is excellent.. The skies are reasonably dark, 21.3 on the SQM-L measured s pretty typical. Its at about 3,700 feet which keeps is cooler in the summer than the desert and warmer and drier in the winter than at higher elevations.

Last summer we spent 10 days on the Navajo reservation during the he new moon. I was really hoping for some clear skies to enjoy those dark skies. But it was not to be. Beautiful rainstorms, thunder and lightening shows were the highlights of the trip. Internet searches of the southwest showed nearly the entire region was covered with clouds.

The notable exception was the small town of Boulevard in the high derert mountains east of San Diego, it was clouldless with excellent transparency for those 10 days.. When we returned, the ideal conditions continued and I was able get in 10 nights before the moon prevented further sessions.

Jon


indepmontla

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2018, 03:30:26 PM »
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The notable exception was the small town of Boulevard in the high derert mountains east of San Diego,

Priceless. Thanks for sharing.
I do get it. I think I've sort of been doing that already now for about 8 years. We have a quiet great existence in cloudy West Oregon, and I've been journeying solo for some time out to get to darker skies. Yes, ironically, I did have a similar experience one time. A big outing, I was out for 4 nights in Eastern Oregon, and it was cloudy/rainy the whole time. Back home at our local viewing location, they had clear skies 2 of the nights. However, that is the outlier/rare occurrence, not the norm for sure. But your point is well taken. I have other reasons beyond astronomy though for this project, but I do value your comment, thanks. Yep, keeping proper perspective is important, and no matter where I settle sure there will be cloudy nights there, too.

Chris Goldsby

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2018, 09:13:01 PM »
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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
I live in Central Florida and the Dark Site finder has some Bortle 3 near me. I live in Avon Park and can get to Dark, for Florida inside an hour and Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State park is an hour away. From October-May the seeing and viewing in this area is as good as you are going to get for Central Florida. Out west has some advantages too like Darker skies but then again the Cell service and internet is also as dark as the skies. (Very spotty for cell phones and internet)


Bryce Roberts

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2018, 06:46:36 AM »
Another consideration in choosing a dark site:

Freedom from flying insects.. .

Jon

chuckgemslerswe

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2018, 09:30:46 AM »
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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.

For good seeing, you need laminar air flow. In the mountains, you get a lot of turbulence. That's why seeing can be good on the Florida Keys. There's nothing high enough to disturb air flow.

A retired couple from my local astronomy club spent last winter at an astronomy friendly RV park in Rodeo, New Mexico. They raved about the night skies there.

If you can tolerate the winter weather, the site of the Nebraska Star Party, 25 miles SSW of Valentine is as dark as you can get.

New Mexico Astronomy Village is a development located between Silver City and Deming. Here's a thread that mentions it:http://www.cloudynig...ge#entry6196559

Here is a CN thread about Arizona:http://www.cloudynig...ge#entry5839407

CN has several threads on this subject. I suggest searching for "<state name> Astronomy" in the Beginner, General Observing and Astronomy, and Light Pollution forums.

tingdermeli

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2018, 01:01:04 PM »
That part of Nevada is dark. I think you might be on the right track.

My advice. Take a look at mining operations. The mine just west of Ely puts up a incredible glow.

I would look around Alamo, Nevada. It is dark, but more important it appears to be far enough south that you avoid much of the snow and cold weather around Ely. These observations are only based on vegetation and my travels through the area over the years. You need to validate.

Alamo had decent internet at the RV park. Really the first decent internet speeds outside the inland northwest that I encountered in rural areas. Eastern Washington has had fiber optic systems since the turn of the century, so anything less than 100 Mbps is not acceptable. Not sure what is going on in Alamo, but it beat the internet speeds in most of rural California and Arizona.

Be very careful about building an earth berm house. I lived in one for two years. The year-round temperature was 55 degrees. And in winter as soon as the wood stove quit....it was 55 degrees and very humid. Just awful.

The house will end up having the temperature of the surrounding earth over the entire year. In Arizona, this means 82 degrees which sounds great, but the humidity is also 95% which is awful.

Not sure what the temperature would be in southern Nevada, but be sure to have some method of dealing with the humidity.

A small well designed and insulated house makes much more sense.

Miguel Alvarado

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Re: Seeking ideal private observatory location in the US
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2018, 01:18:51 PM »
Thanks all. Great input.
I have to say, I'm now really intrigued about Starizona. Been researching a lot, called a Realtor yesterday...

Not doing anything in a rush, will be thinking this over a few more months. But everyone here, big thank you. You've given me a lot to think about.