• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Astro Paradise for the Bucket List .... (1 Viewer)

Patudo

Well-known member
I'm not an astro guy at all but keep telling myself next time there is a clear night in the Canary Islands I ought to point the binoculars upwards and have a look around. But the famous observatories there are much higher than most of the places I've visited - above the cloud layer.

In Cape Verde the skies are clearer, and with little light pollution in that neck of the woods, I have on a number of occasions looked up and enjoyed some nice views, albeit with only the Mk I eyeball. This was before binoculars became an everyday part of my life. But the one time that the beauty and immensity of the night sky truly struck me was travelling back to an island in the north of the Maldives after an unsuccessful attempt at finding a fish buoy to the north. The north-bound current took us a good way further out than I had thought, so by nightfall we were still quite a way from landfall. It was a clear night and as I looked up I could see what seemed like countless clusters of stars across the sky, but unfortunately I was in little mood to enjoy what I did realize was an awe-inspiring view, being more concerned about toting up how much water we had and so on... Only after the transmission tower we were using as a landmark finally appeared did I begin to appreciate what I was seeing - by far the best view of the stars I have ever seen or will probably ever see.

I swore that night I'd learn the rudiments of celestial navigation, but haven't yet - something I really ought to put right.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Another great dark sky spot in the states is Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona. They have overnight observing where you can spend all night observing through different scopes.

Kitt Peak hosts an array of programs for the public to take part in, including:

Daytime tours, speaking about the history of the observatory as well as touring a major research telescope.
The Nightly Observing Program (NOP), which allows visitors to arrive in the late afternoon, watch the sunset, and use binoculars and telescopes to view the cosmos.
Additionally, there is the Overnight Telescope Observing Program (OTOP). This program allows for a one-on-one, full night of observing using any of the visitor center's telescopes. Guests may choose to do DSLR imaging, CCD imaging, or simply take in the sights with their eye to the telescope.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitt_Peak_National_Observatory
 

Attachments

  • KittPeak.jpg
    KittPeak.jpg
    42.6 KB · Views: 28
Last edited:

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
There are various Dark-sky reserves even in Czech Republic, but the point there is not to mark the darkest places on Earth but to conserve the best there is in the area, as good as it gets.

Looking for dark places (with good weather) around the world is incidentally somewhat a part of my job. The Canary islands are mildly disappointing in this regard, especially Tenerife, which we have actually rejected as a site for an observatory because the sky background was too high. We then moved it to La Palma, where terrain is less favourable (we need quite a lot of space, which there isn't) but the sky is much darker - the whole island has policies about outdoor lights and the sea of clouds usually covers most of the settlements, so the peak of Roque de Los Muchachos is really dark. It's not like you really can't find traces of human light pollution - the sea of clouds is always visibly illuminated - but it's the best place within EU territory as far as I know.

Somebody mentioned Arizona and that indeed has some brilliant sites (we studied some there) but even the best have detectable artificial light spots on the horizon. I honestly don't remember how it is in Namibia, where the HESS experiment site in the north and a private farm in the south were studied, but I roughly recall the farm (near Aus, inland from Svakopmund) was virtually perfect.

However for me personally the greatest night sky I have ever seen was in SW Bolivia - it's not only about darkness, but also clarity and there the combination of dry desert and high altitude really does wonders. The close second would be Paranal Observatory in Chilean Atacama - no wonder it's the site of some of the largest astronomical telescopes (with the largest ever now in construction), it has not been chosen randomly. There are faint signs of artificial sources in distance, but again, the combination of altitude (this time more reasonable than 4000+ in Bolivia) and dryness mean that very little light gets scattered, so the experience is virtually pure.
 

dries1

Member
In the mountains of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan, I was totally blown away with the night views. Dry and at altitude.

Andy W.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
In the mountains of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan, I was totally blown away with the night views. Dry and at altitude.

Andy W.

Wow, how do you visit such a place? Has it really been accessible, like ever?

I have been quite close - across the Wakhan valley on Tajikistan and I presume that has great skies too, I have however learned to not expect to see much of it on trekking trips, because I am simply too tired.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Iran has high mountains and a new large telescope.

North Korea has mountains up to 9,000ft.

Not sure that I would like to visit either.

In the late 1980s I visited La Palma.
Near the telescopes, on a rather poor night, my zenithal limiting magnitude was 7.2.
M33 was seen well to direct vision, as well as 15 or 16 Pleiads.
Very faint meteors with small trails at the zenith.
It didn't look particularly dark.

It was much darker on Tenerife next the observatory with cloud cover.
In fact pitch black.
I almost fell into the caldera, only a few feet away in total darkness.

B.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Poland
Iran has high mountains and a new large telescope.

North Korea has mountains up to 9,000ft.

Not sure that I would like to visit either.

In the late 1980s I visited La Palma.
Near the telescopes, on a rather poor night, my zenithal limiting magnitude was 7.2.
M33 was seen well to direct vision, as well as 15 or 16 Pleiads.
Very faint meteors with small trails at the zenith.
It didn't look particularly dark.

It was much darker on Tenerife next the observatory with cloud cover.
In fact pitch black.
I almost fell into the caldera, only a few feet away in total darkness.

B.

Well, the stars and the Milky Way are actually pretty bright (as is the Zodiacal light just after/before sunset/sunrise) so it's always some light when it's clear sky and thus a cloudy night on a dark site looks darker.

I would also not like to visit NK, but there is no problem at all in visiting Iran, it's a country full of very friendly people, only with a questionable government.
 

dries1

Member
Bucket List

Wow, how do you visit such a place? Has it really been accessible, like ever?

I have been quite close - across the Wakhan valley on Tajikistan and I presume that has great skies too, I have however learned to not expect to see much of it on trekking trips, because I am simply too tired.

I was there for work, had some free time with good company/clear skies, and some glass. It was all in the timing. The only thing was, it was bitter cold.I am sure where you were in Tajikistan would have some great night views.

Andy W.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Geminid meteor shower

With the government trying to burn the place to the ground did not see a thing either - just thick smoke haze .....

I've seen them before out in the country - spectacular - looks like something out of 'Day of the Triffids' ..... ! :eek!: :-O




Chosun :gh:
 
Last edited:

temmie

Well-known member
thanks for the great links.

The best starry sky I ever had was on the salkantay trekking in S-Peru. The fact that (like Jan said) you are high and dry, and the added benefit of a valley surrounded by high (rather snow-less) mountains) really cuts off all artificial light sources, except for the camp.

this is the place:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/S...11018!8m2!3d-13.3866945!4d-72.5736719!5m1!1e4

and it looked a whole lot like this at night, but without that (morning sun?)light:
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/dd/47/a4/dd47a4517ddc4803db70358c34549688.jpg

the sad thing (like in most parts of the world): when we were there, there was only a campground and one lodge / hotel that seemed like empty. Nowadays, there are accomodations all over this place and it looks more and more like a small town at high altitude in a once remote valley, with probably a lot more light pollution. Long live the commerce. Ofcourse I did my part in paying money for the trekking that the trekking organisers probably use to upgrade accomodation...
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top