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Old 07-21-2020, 01:52 PM   #1
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Amateur astronomy

I saw a few rather old threads, so I thought I'd revive this if there's anybody interested in astronomy.

My undergrad degree is in astro, so I've kept up with it off and on over the years. One thing driving my desire to get an RV is to be able to escape the gawd-awful light pollution in the suburbs and get out to where you can actually see the Milky Way.

I've been able to do that to some extent tent camping and renting cabins, but a Scamp would give me a lot more flexibility and comfort. Yes, you can rent a lot of nights at a cabin or buy a lot of tents for the cost of a Scamp, but...
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Old 07-21-2020, 04:06 PM   #2
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Neowise

I've been wishing for a view of Neowise. The evening weather hasn't cooperated. Morning is out!
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Old 07-21-2020, 04:13 PM   #3
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I'm very interested in astronomy, unfortunately I'm not very skilled. <_<
Here is a shot of the Comet Neowise I got from Morro Bay over the weekend.
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Old 07-21-2020, 04:54 PM   #4
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Jon: Nice!!
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Old 07-21-2020, 05:01 PM   #5
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"We" keep learning more, but I hardly do. I studied geology long before anyone dreamed up plate tectonics. Last week I read ( https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/s...-universe.html ) and the astronomy I learned bore no relationship to the contents of that article.


The last few years I've spent some time trying to grasp 20th century physics with not much to show for my efforts. At least I'm having a good time.
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Old 07-21-2020, 05:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jcj380 View Post
I saw a few rather old threads, so I thought I'd revive this if there's anybody interested in astronomy.

My undergrad degree is in astro, so I've kept up with it off and on over the years. One thing driving my desire to get an RV is to be able to escape the gawd-awful light pollution in the suburbs and get out to where you can actually see the Milky Way.

I've been able to do that to some extent tent camping and renting cabins, but a Scamp would give me a lot more flexibility and comfort. Yes, you can rent a lot of nights at a cabin or buy a lot of tents for the cost of a Scamp, but...
Your comment about the Milky Way sounds like what I have been saying for years. There is a dark sky preserve in Pennsylvania that I want to go to soon.

https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/F...s/default.aspx

Maybe this year before Florida and there should be some dark skies in Quartzite Arizona.
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Old 07-22-2020, 12:45 PM   #7
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The last few years I've spent some time trying to grasp 20th century physics with not much to show for my efforts. At least I'm having a good time.
Quantum is pretty bizarre from a common sense viewpoint. Add in dark matter, dark energy, and cosmic inflation and it's Crazy Town.

But the stars still shine whether we understand the physics or not...
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:06 PM   #8
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Quantum is pretty bizarre from a common sense viewpoint. Add in dark matter, dark energy, and cosmic inflation and it's Crazy Town.

But the stars still shine whether we understand the physics or not...

I'm comfortable with 19th century stuff but I'm hung up on determinism with the billiard ball model. The probabilistic stuff gives me a figurative headache.
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Old 08-18-2020, 01:14 PM   #9
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I've been able to do that to some extent tent camping and renting cabins, but a Scamp would give me a lot more flexibility and comfort. Yes, you can rent a lot of nights at a cabin or buy a lot of tents for the cost of a Scamp, but...

I am an astronomer. I own a Casita purchased specifically to use as a means to enjoy astronomy. Its my star party vehicle and allows me to camp for days on end at dark sky locations.

Someone on this thread posted a link to Cherry Springs in north central PA. I have been going there, usualy 4 times a year, since before it was customized for the astronomy crowd. Its simply excellent - though not quite as dark as it was in the 1990's and early 2000's. Its still quite dark for the north-east.
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Old 08-18-2020, 01:42 PM   #10
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We are setting off next week with our Trillium 13 with telescopes packed. We live on Vancouver Island south which has 3 major cities around the gulf so lots of light pollution. However we are going north on the island about 500km and itís pretty dark up there.
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Old 08-18-2020, 04:25 PM   #11
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astronomy?

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Originally Posted by jcj380 View Post
My undergrad degree is in astro, so I've kept up with it off and on over the years. One thing driving my desire to get an RV is to be able to escape the gawd-awful light pollution in the suburbs and get out to where you can actually see the Milky Way.
Several of the local ham radio operators have camped on my boondocking lot, but the thing is, hams never have just ONE hobby. Astronomy using telescopes, range spotting scopes and BINOCULARS is also popular.
Step one; change one of the RV lights to a dim red to protect your night vision.

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Old 08-18-2020, 07:14 PM   #12
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I am an astronomer. I own a Casita purchased specifically to use as a means to enjoy astronomy. Its my star party vehicle and allows me to camp for days on end at dark sky locations.

Someone on this thread posted a link to Cherry Springs in north central PA. I have been going there, usualy 4 times a year, since before it was customized for the astronomy crowd. Its simply excellent - though not quite as dark as it was in the 1990's and early 2000's. Its still quite dark for the north-east.
In your opinion what is the best star gazing spot in the country?
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Old 08-18-2020, 07:57 PM   #13
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Great question

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In your opinion what is the best star gazing spot in the country?
Thatís a great question. Iíd be interested to hear multiple opinions and give special attention to folks who are into astronomy. Iíve had the good fortune to be in some pretty remote locations in my life and Iím always impressed in those cool clear nights when it looks like you could reach up and touch them.
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Old 08-18-2020, 10:03 PM   #14
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Dark SKy

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In your opinion what is the best star gazing spot in the country?
Search for darksky sights or Nebraska.
https://www.nebraskastarparty.org/
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Old 08-18-2020, 10:05 PM   #15
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Search for darksky.org sights or Nebraska.
https://www.nebraskastarparty.org/
try:


https://darksitefinder.com/maps/worl...9.889/-104.716

https://www.darkskymap.com/nightSkyBrightness
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Old 08-19-2020, 11:02 AM   #16
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In your opinion what is the best star gazing spot in the country?

Well, this is a great question and one that's debated often between myself and some friends - both professional astronomers and amateurs. The answer is it really depends on what your goals are. Meaning this, if you are looking at just the planets (Mars/Jupiter/Saturn) and the Moon dark skies are not a requirement because these objects are very bright and can be viewed even in the most light polluted skies of cities. However, good high power views of these objects require very steady atmospheric conditions. If the atmosphere is unsteady, in a telescope, these objects look like your viewing them at the bottom of a quickly moving stream. Astronomers call this atmospheric "Seeing". The "seeing" needs to be steady for nice high power views of the planets and Moon. At night, as the Earth cools, the temperature gradients cause the air to rise and fall. Its these rising/falling/moving pockets of air that wreak havoc on the views. This is made worse if the jet stream is parked where you are viewing.

If looking at faint deep sky objects sky darkness is the primary condition that will determine how good the views will be. The darker it is, the deeper your telescope will go. Deep sky objects like nebula, galaxies and star clusters don't require high power, so atmospheric steadiness or "seeing" is not much of a requirement. These objects will look good in all but the most unsteady skies.

So, to answer your question in the CONUS Florida is the best place to go if wanting to view the planets and Moon as the skies are almost always very steady there. This is due to being surrounded by water. Florida is a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. Being surrounded by water keeps the atmospheric temps stable so there is not a lot of hot air/cold air churning.

For a dark sky sites to view deep sky nebula, clusters and galaxies the desert southwest - specifically southern Utah, Northern Arizona and the desert of southeastern California are terrific places.

Now, for the average person who does not already live in California, Arizona, Utah and Florida its not easy to get to these places regularly. To this end, I looked for something closer. My favorite place to go "locally" is Cherry Springs State Park in North Central, PA. This was the link you provided earlier in this thread. Its very dark, somewhat easy to get to and the seeing is sometimes quite good right after sunset for about an hour or so. Also, the observing field is very flat with good horizons. Its a PA state park and the state has put considerable amount of money to keep the sky dark and to add some nice features for astronomy. The county is not very populated and the exact location is surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of state forest. The astronomers who frequent pump a fair amount of money into the local economies of the surrounding communities so its a bit of a symbiotic relationship. On any given "new moon" weekend there are about 100 or so astronomers on the field.
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Old 08-19-2020, 11:14 AM   #17
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Search for darksky sights or Nebraska.
https://www.nebraskastarparty.org/
This is an excellent star party in north west Nebraska. Its quite dark there. Unfortunately, due to COVID19 this was cancelled for 2020 as were many of the other starparties around the country.

For those who've never heard the term "star party", its a weekend gathering of astronomers (usually amateur) occurring during the new moon or dark-of-moon weekend. It features daytime talks and night-time observing. The largest events can have in excess of 500 people.
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Old 08-19-2020, 11:22 AM   #18
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Does anyone have a recommendation for a good, simple beginner's guide book? Ideally something geared toward kids? I bought my 6-year old (soon to be 7) a telescope for her birthday last year. But we haven't used it much at all and part of the challenge is that I really have no idea what I'm doing. Its a decent starter telescope ($80 or so). She's reading now so something actually geared towards a new reader would be great as well.

I need some basics in terms of simple stuff to look for and then how to actually sight it in. I can set it up during the day to look at birds, but at night I pretty much just see blackness and really haven't had any luck with viewing stars.
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Old 08-19-2020, 11:33 AM   #19
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I need some basics in terms of simple stuff to look for and then how to actually sight it in. I can set it up during the day to look at birds, but at night I pretty much just see blackness and really haven't had any luck with viewing stars.

Not really anything that will check all of the boxes for you, but the best beginner guide is called Turn Left at Orion by Guy Consolmagno and Dan M. Davis

The problem may be the telescope. I don't know what kind of telescope you purchased but the best starter package available is this:

https://www.telescope.com/Orion/SkyL...4543&keyword=6

Often the low cost department store telescopes snuff out the interest of budding astronomers rather then enhance it.
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Old 08-19-2020, 01:18 PM   #20
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This is what we got. Orion 10034 GoScope II 70mm. I did do some research before buying. Had to try to balance cost, ease of use, etc. At $80 I'm sure its not great, but it isn't "toy" grade either.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1



Thanks for the book recommendation. That looks like a good one but may be even a bit beyond where I'm at right now.
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