View Full Version here: : Where can I go?
30-07-2012, 05:39 AM
I live in Sydney and at the drop of the hat and clear skies I can be in my car alone :screwy: and heading towards a dark sky site with my Mount&Scope a warm jacket and lots of coffee and biscuits.
Problem is I'm not sure where I can go i.e. Safe from Psycho's in National Parks or getting chased off a golf course by hungry Rottweilers ...
So, does anyone have any good safe spots they'd like to share, heck I'd be happy to announce that I'm heading that way (on the night) and have a spontaneous star party! Anyone wanting to join me would be welcome but waiting for a once a month star party just doesn't always suit my busy schedule, sure you can all relate.
30-07-2012, 09:37 AM
In so far as formal gatherings go, you can look up the clubs and societies listing in the "Our Community" heading in the top left margin.
Informal gatherings are listed in the Star Parties forum. Around Sydney there are gatherings at Katoomba Airfield and the Pony Club at Mangrove Mountain. Sometimes other sessions within Sydney are also listed there. I'm often going to Randwick Girls' High School.
For a site that is SAFE, really it is always best to go with a mate. For dark sites that are easy to get to, there's Hargrave's Lookout and Mount Blackheath Lookout. Both lead out from Blackheath just past Katoomba. Hargrave's has a clearer horizon, but it is very exposed when the wind blows and can be bitterly cold. Mt Blackheath's east is a little obscured by trees, but it is much more sheltered and has public fireplaces. If the Airfield isn't available to us we tend to prefer Mt Blackheath for those two reasons.
You can try talking to outlying golf clubs. Might need to have a session put on for the members to show your bona fides, but get on their good books and you may have allies.
Or you can just ask for an observing buddy, here or probably better in the General Chat forum where there is a lot more traffic as everyone scans that forum more than any other.
30-07-2012, 05:03 PM
Find your nearest Astro Society and join up. They will have a dark site and often will have members meeting up there on new moon nights.
Personally, I've been toying with the idea of having some informal sidewalk astronomy nights in my area, just have to find a nice place with a good clear sky and not too many lights.
30-07-2012, 06:50 PM
In which part of Sydney are you? It makes a huge difference when offering advice. BTW in 40 years of observing from dark sites outside Wollongong I've never had a serious problem. Out of 100s of nights I've had a couple of hoons doing donuts about 100m from me.
31-07-2012, 09:15 PM
Hi all thanks for your comments. Much appreciated!
(David) I'm in Carlton near the St George Oval.
(Simon) I too have thought about setting up on the sidewalk to attract locals and share the beauty of our skies, I'm sure there are many families that don't have the budget to enjoy this hobby and would love to look through a telescope. Its a well known fact that we love to share our passion with others.
In regards to Astro Societies I joined ASNSW at the start of the year but unfortunately due to working the graveyard shift I've not been able to attend meetings or their annual star party. Although I have been out to Crago a few times, Love it (of course it was cloudy the first time and saw nothing and partly cloudy the second time and saw Saturn and Omega Centaurus briefly WOW!! I also went to check out the Astro Society in Sutherland (which have great facilities BTW) but I've not had the opportunity to visit again (I intend to).
Next Saturday night I'm free so fingers crossed I hope to be out somewhere viewing the skies, I'll keep an eye out on the forum to see if anyone is out viewing that night.
(Alexander) last weekend I really wanted to join you guys at the airstrip but working commitments didn't allow it.
I can't wait till I'm retired!! Well I can, I certainly don't want to wish my life away that quick, but I love astronomy and I will find the time.
31-07-2012, 10:01 PM
It is unlikely you will find a dark observing spot by asking where it is and then hoping to drive out and observe. reason being, any easily identified place like a sports oval or park will no doubt have lights nearby.
I live in the southern highlands and there are a number of good observing sites down here, but it would be difficult to find them without local help and almost impossible by night. You need to scout out places by day, and then return sometime later. I have found a number of good sites like this, one in particular which I used for may years was just the dead end of a country road -it is still usable but there are now two house driveways there instead of two farmgates.
Currently I work a lot in Whyalla South Australia. After a few attempts I found a wonderful spot 25km out of town which I use. After a couple of months I learned it was also used by the local branch of the S.A. astronomical society! A common quest will often come to the same conclusion!
Go for a drive down to the villages of Yerrinbool and Colo Vale - you may find something ideal in this area, the advantage of the southern highlands is that due north is towards Katoomba and not Sydney, so northern objects are much more easily seen.
09-08-2012, 03:28 AM
Thanks for your comments John, I have a cousin who just recently moved to Mittagong area and I've not been to visit yet, might scout his backyard and then go from there :thumbsup:
Going to Crago Mt Bowen this weekend, visitors welcome!
21-08-2012, 01:05 PM
I'm a member of ASNSW and had been interested to try out the Crago site. Do we need accreditation to use the site? just to setup scope outside, not to use the facilities there.
Also I noticed that there is a gate, how often is it locked? if it's locked is there anyway to get keys to drive right up to the site?
I tried to email the person listed for the site but have not got an answer.
22-08-2012, 12:39 PM
From Sydney here's a list of places I've used over the years...
1. Sydney Observatory (obvious but about the worst site in terms of light pollution);
2. Randwick Girls High School oval, thanks to one of the IIS members here who occasionally arranges access;
3. Katoomba airfield (via Medlow Bath), as per Mental's post; reasonably dark and there's a cabin with a fireplace to warm up if its cloudy and cold (2 hours);
4. Kings Tableland, south of Wentworth Falls. From Hordern Rd turn left into Little Switzerland drive for 100m or so, there is a huge sandstone slab which offers a great spot to set up scopes. Reasonably good site and no dew. (1.5 hours)
5. Hargraves Lookout on the south side of Shipley Plateau, west of Blackheath. This is a very high, exposed site with the best conditions in the Blue Mountains but come prepared as it is also very cold if there is a breeze. (2 hours)
6. Mt Blackheath at the northern side of Shipley Plateau is also ok, near the paraglider launch (this is a patch of bright green Astroturf easily seen on Google maps). There are fireplaces and benches under the trees so can light a fire if you want to warm up. (2 hours)
7. Mt Banks, off Bells Line of Rd, use the second carpark on the right near the top. Small, only enough room for 2 cars plus scopes. (2 hours)
8. Mt Wilson, Cathedral Camping Ground (2.5 hours)
9. ASNSW's Mt Bowen site (Crago observatory). Suffering light pollution but it can give good steady seeing thanks to the national park in the west. (1h 45m)
10. Hassan's Walls, which is a high escarpment south of Lithgow (drive through the town and watch for the signpost saying Hassan's Walls). There are 4 good locations along the ridge, and offers the best conditions short of going much further afield. (2.5 hours).
11. Lake St Clair camping ground, Lake St Clair, 30 km north of Singleton. A very pretty lakeside camping ground that also happens to be a great spot for observing. Dark and sheltered from the wind. (3 hours)
12. ASNSW's site Wiruna, via Lithgow and Ilford (3 hours).
13. Barrington Tops, at the carpark on top near the peat bog. (4 hours)
14. Mt Kaputar, via Narrabri (8 hours) several places to observe. There is a beautiful camping ground near the peak among snow gums with spring water, hot showers aetc and a superb observing location a few hundred metres along the Barraba fire trail on the left hand side (you will need to speak to the ranger to obtain access as there is a locked gate). Short of Siding Spring, if the weather is good this is one of the best spots in the country. Spectacular views and things to do during the day make this park well worth visiting at least once.
My current preferences are 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.
22-08-2012, 01:37 PM
That's a great list, I'll be having a close look at that myself. I did some research myself last night and a few of those came up but that's a very comprehensive list. Thankyou Wavytone!
Carlos, I'm in the same sort of situation. I don't live far from you, in Riverwood, and of late I have been going down to Stanwell Tops near Helensburgh as it doesn't take long (not that travel time is too much of an issue) and I didn't know much better.
Lately though I have been contending heavily it seems with ppl that go there to smoke dope and teens that go there for more 'intimate' activities. Either way this will only get worse as it gets warmer so unless it's middle of the night on a weeknight, this place is pretty hopeless :/
22-08-2012, 05:45 PM
24-08-2012, 01:17 AM
Wavytone WOW! Thanks for sharing!!:) This will certainly save Loki and myself a lot of time figuring out where to go and trying to reinvent the wheel so to speak.
A big CHEERS to you :cheers:
I had thought about Stanwell Tops also but figured it would be too windy, and you are right about the rest of the wildlife … I’m sure with that with Wavytones list we’ll come to find a favourite spot, that is until we can buy our own farm.:D
Hi Victor :) , sending you a PM with more info… :thumbsup:
24-08-2012, 01:18 AM
Very funny!! :rofl:
24-08-2012, 12:11 PM
Carlos, some years ago I explored the possible sites down south.
Yes, Stanwell Tops is not good. Nor is the park down below - any location near a surf beach will have a very salty wet dew at night which is no good for telescopes and very corrosive for aluminium that hasn't been anodised.
If you go further afield there are some nice spots around Kangaroo Valley, Kiama and Jamberoo. In particular:
1. Saddleback ridge, out of Kiama; this is ok and dark at night.
2. Barren Ground carpark...
PS I added Mt Wilson's Cathedral Camping Ground to my previous list.
24-08-2012, 11:37 PM
Don't forget Mangrove Mountain (aka the pony club).
Check the star parties forum for specifics
28-08-2012, 09:13 PM
You can turn up to Crago on any of the desigated viewing nights and just setup some gear and have a chat and a cup of tea. Ian Parr is the Crago manager at the moment, his contact details are listed in the ASNSW magazine which comes out every 2 months.
If it is clear to the west of Sydney you are pretty good to head straight out, if the weather is a little cloudy, you can ring Ian first to make sure he is opening up. The gate is locked when not in use, on the viewing nights, just go up and open the gate by hand (reach in to where the spiders live) then drive the 100m track to observatory and park.
28-08-2012, 09:29 PM
Yeah i signed up to ASNSW 7months ago as well but still haven't been to a meeting/event because of work committments :/
03-09-2012, 04:33 PM
Just joined and am interested in the discussion here. I am yet another sydneysider and south and west are much much easier than north, so Barren Grounds looks like an interesting bet for me. A friend of ours gave us an old 10cm telescope which I've used in my yard to show the kids Saturn's rings, jovian moons and crescent venus - trid to find omega centauri but found light pollution pretty hard in inner Sydney...
07-09-2012, 04:50 AM
Weather permitting Crago looks like a sure bet this weekend! Ya'll welcome to drop by and check it out!!! :welcome:
Will definately know by saturday afternoon if it'll be open.
Hopefully it'll be an all nighter :D so long as those pesky clouds stay away.
Happy to give you a :thumbsup: or :mad2: on Saturday.
:hi: Can you tell I'm excited!!! :lol:
08-09-2012, 08:49 AM
I wish you the best of luck Carlos, I'm working 12hrs today and tomorrow so I won't be doing anything unfortunately :/
11-09-2012, 06:35 AM
Thanks Loki, it was a pretty good night here is a link to some of the photos I took ... http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=96205
I hope to see you there sometime soon.
Funny thing is that you meet new people whilst you're there but you have no idea what they look like, its too dark! :lol:
14-09-2012, 01:16 AM
That is funny, I had the exact same thought around christmas when I was taking photos of comet Lovejoy at Stanwell tops. I walked around and said hello to a few of the people who were there but wouldn't have a clue who they are
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