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Old 02-06-2020, 10:59 PM
DarkArts
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Astronomy Close to the Ocean

Hey folks, with retirement approaching (I hope - cross fingers I have some super left after the markets finish correcting), I'm thinking of moving closer to the ocean when I finally quit the workforce.

I don't mean right on the beach, but say 200m from the shoreline up to 5 kilometres inland.

I spent many years living near the water in my youth, but since I took up astronomy, I've lived inland, so I don't have any experience with astro and ocean.

So, what are people's experiences? If you have a ROR obs, do you still have to worry about salt spray/air? How good is seeing near the shore? What about transparency (does elevated mist cause issues, maybe)? When does the sea/land breeze switch over, and how reliable is it? Are there other things I need to know?

Thanks.
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Old 03-06-2020, 08:33 AM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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When my wife retired she wanted to be "close to the sea".
After a long search we ended up in St Leonards on the Bay side of the Bellarine.
We're one street back from the beach front with sea views ( and about $1 million cheaper!!).
We've been down here just over five years and I can comment on a couple of things.
The summer rush of tourists/ campers etc. - the village has x4 or x5 more traffic and the main street has more people than Lygon St.!! For three months of the year it can be "very interesting"


The weather conditions vary from good to terrible. I was not expecting the wind. We seem to get strong winds every second day. The sea mist also plays havoc windows which need cleaning every month, the humidity in the shed makes everything rust. In the garden not all plants like the sea air!

( We were previously in Heathcote north of the ranges and never in twenty years had issues like that)
For astronomy - Hmmm The seeing conditions are bad, much much worse than Heathcote. OK, I'd say for occasional (when the weather and wind allows) visual work but I honestly wouldn't try serious AP. I only do solar during the day and spectroscopy, which is a little more forgiving about the seeing conditions.


Living in the small village away from the city is great (most of the time), walking on the beach and enjoying the laid back lifestyle makes for a pleasant existence.


Remember hospitals etc. are a fair distance away and serious shopping means a 40 min trip to Geelong.


Hope this helps.
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:17 AM
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LewisM
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Having lived spitting distance from salt water for 38 years of my 46 year existence I reiterate Ken.

Seeing - 9 times out of 10 it’s poor to terrible. Everything twinkles like fairy lights on a Christmas tree. Visual is horrible, imaging... ha ha ha.

You won’t appreciate Canberras magnificent cold skies until you move away and then you’ll miss it all over again. I stood outside last night freezing my bits off in Canberra and not a single star twinkled. Perfect still points of light
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:20 AM
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Another thing - star colour seems to almost vanish seaside too. Even Betelgeuse looked white naked eye from where I lived in QLD. Here in thecACT, brilliant and vivid
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:51 AM
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Sunfish (Ray)
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I have lived in a small seaside suburb which was once a small railway town for many years. All those problems mentioned are there except that they are worse the closer you get to the actual water line level. If you find a very hilly area where you can see the sea and walk or pedal about 15 minutes safely then many of the problems are much ameliorated. The electric bike has changed the world.

I am at 50m with no development to the west due to the escarpment which makes a huge difference. I think of those towns on the great ocean road and in other places which rise steeply from a beach and a few services at and you get the idea. Just don’t expect to drive around there on a Sunday in summer.
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:56 AM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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Ray,
Good point.
I'm only 25 mtr above the Bay!
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Old 03-06-2020, 10:25 AM
glend (Glen)
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If your considering retiring to a coastal location, make sure that there are adequate health facilities nearby. Sooner or later you or your spouse will need health support or emergency treatment, planning now may save your life. Don't assume a helicopter is going to land in front of your house and wisk you off to OR at a large public hospital.

If your considering the south coast of NSW as a location, as most Canberran's seem to do, investigate the health facilties available in the area. A typical stent insetion in a corornary artery will require a trip to a Catherisation Lab, normally only available at a large public hospital. Ask questions about this sort of thing before you commit to an area.

I had a heart attack two years ago, and luckily there is a local ambulance depot just six kilometres away from my house, and a public hospital with good ER facilties just 15 minutes away down the M1. A good ER facility can stablise heart patients, in most cases, for transport to larger public hospitals which have cardiac catherisation labs. And as the cardiologist say "time is muscle", meaning the faster you can get to a treatment faciltity the better the odds of your survival. Sorry to be morbid, but people don't seem to factor in their increasing reliance on health care as they age.


I second Ray's comment about the issues of coastal living are decreased the farther away from the sea you can go. If you want to live on the beach, so to speak, the impact on astronomy will be constant. However, if your willing to be say ten or fifteen minutes inland, in an elevated location, things are very much better.
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:23 AM
Startrek (Martin)
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My weekender or should I say my retirement getaway ( Shoalhaven south coast NSW is 250m from the beach at about 30m above sea level
No issues at all with salt spray or sea mist etc as the north easters in summer usually settle down at dusk and in winter we get predominant westerly winds
I visual observe with a 12” Goto dob and image with an 8” f5 newt
Considering a Nexdome observatory later in the year
The only issue in regard to astronomy living near the coast on the eastern seaboard is those pesky low pressure systems which blanket the coastal fringe with cloud every 2nd week or so
Other than that I love the coast with the beaches and rivers plus we have great bush walking to places like pigeon house mountain, Morton national park etc..
The skies down here are Bortle 3 and on most clear nights you see the entire visible span of the Milky Way overhead , a beautiful sight
Cheers
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:44 AM
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interesting read

Here's an interesting read comparing professional inland and coastal/island observatory sites:
http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//...00003.000.html
It's not particularly relevant for this discussion given the global nature and altitudes involved, but I found the Conclusion amusing in this context: "The ideal observing site is a single, steep volcanic cone rising out of the ocean"! Not exactly the ideal retirement location...unless I can convince my wife to move to Hawaii
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Old 03-06-2020, 02:56 PM
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multiweb (Marc)
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Corosion comes to mind. I don't know about seeing but there are some pretty dark skies south coast. Much better than here. And there's more to life than astro. Chilling out on the beach in a nice place is important too. You still can pack up and drive out west to image.
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Old 03-06-2020, 03:08 PM
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Having spent significant time observing and imaging from both locations, I can only compare the Newcastle area to Canberra and sadly it is no comparison ie Newcastle had generaly hard to predict weather with constant below average to poor seeing (never good) all year, both from the suburb of New Lampton in the city and 40min west of the city in Kurri Kurri. In comparison, as you would already know, Canberra has much steadier skies with a good sprinkling of very steady nights and more predictable weather much easier to get under decent dark skies too, Bortle 3 skies are just a 40min drive in any direction where no such skies exist in the inner Hunter unfortunately.
Good luck, you should be able get dark skies in many places on the coast but steady ones?...probably not

Mike
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Old 03-06-2020, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by multiweb View Post
Corosion comes to mind. I don't know about seeing but there are some pretty dark skies south coast. Much better than here. And there's more to life than astro. Chilling out on the beach in a nice place is important too. You still can pack up and drive out west to image.

Indeed. Having seen the end result of a Losmandy G11 that lived about 5km inland from the ocean, I can attest that Losmandy's aluminium mounts corrode, quite badly. Black anodising with grey flaking alu corrsion does not instill much sense of pride nor confidence.


I used to liberally hose my Skywatcher "stainless" legs with lithium grease when not in use. My Canon lenses grew mold quite rapidly despite preventative measures.


3 years in Canberra, and none of the above exists. I learned to loathe/detest humidity 40 years ago, so a dry environment suits me completely. I have to also admit Canberra is - so far - my most favoured place in all the places I have lived.
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Old 03-06-2020, 08:26 PM
DarkArts
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Thanks for all that input. It's very much appreciated and I'm keen to hear more of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AstroApprentice
I found the Conclusion amusing in this context: "The ideal observing site is a single, steep volcanic cone rising out of the ocean"!
I've always wanted my own hollowed-out volcano lair. Mwahahahaha.

Damien Peach - arguable the best amateur planetary photographer in the world - conducts 'campaigns' in Barbados. The island doesn't rise steeply to a couple of thousand metres - the highest point is 336 metres - he doesn't image from up there - and it's impossible to be >5km from the ocean given the island is ~10km across. He cites the three most important factors as laminar air flow off the ocean, slow and stable 300hPa jetstream and the percentage of clear days. In the UK, Damien lives about 1km from the Sussex coast with water on 3 sides, like Ken. Those things gave me hope that good seeing can be had in the right location near-ish the sea, even if it has to be a bit elevated.

When I lived in Sydney just north of Bondi, with mostly open air parking, all of the local residents hosed their cars down with fresh water every morning. We lived about 50m from the cliff edge and the onshore breeze blew spray over everything. On the other side of South Head in Vaucluse or Rose Bay - about 1000m inland but much nearer the harbour - nobody did that as spray wasn't an issue.

Canberra's cold skies are unfortunately accompanied by cold everywhere else, so slightly warmer weather - less cold in Winter anyway - is something I look forward to as well as skies a little darker than my present Bortle 6.

I will have to weigh up the priorities and consider proximity to facilities, as Glen mentioned. There are many things to think about!
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Old 03-06-2020, 08:45 PM
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pmrid (Peter)
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None of this is very encouraging. I've sold my farm in the past year and moved to Bribie Island - health issues mainly - the usual stuff - and needing to be a bit closer to medical facilities (as mentioned earlier in this thread).

And in the past few days, I have finally found the time and space to roll out a scope and some imaging gear. I have to do NB only, for obvious reasons, and deal with cruddy seeing, sea air that at times seems to be nmore salt than air. I know I'm being hopeful to the point opf absurdity but frankly, I need my photons. If I am not able to do some imaging, I believe I will fall in a heap. Mentally and physically.

I don't expect to be winning any APODS from here but as long as my grandkids look at me in awe and wonder when I flash a few images at them, I'll put up with all the rest.

Peter
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:03 PM
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Some of the best seeing on the planet is atop Mauna Kea.

Not far from the coast...but laminar flow from the Pacific and serious altitude clearly works.

We are looking building at a weekender near Bateman's Bay.

The block is about 2km from the coast, on peak of a ridge at about 200m AMSL....sure about 4000 metres short of Mona Kea...but...maybe...

Last edited by Peter Ward; 03-06-2020 at 11:50 PM. Reason: Doh! Phonetic spelling
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:36 PM
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A volcano in the ocean. Sounds perfect. Suitably apocalyptic for looking at exploding primal forces. Mauna Kea look-a likes here we come.

Vanuatu maybe. Surfing by day , star gazing by night. Cheap Coastal real estate which regularly grows in area.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AstroApprentice View Post
Here's an interesting read comparing professional inland and coastal/island observatory sites:
http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//...00003.000.html
It's not particularly relevant for this discussion given the global nature and altitudes involved, but I found the Conclusion amusing in this context: "The ideal observing site is a single, steep volcanic cone rising out of the ocean"! Not exactly the ideal retirement location...unless I can convince my wife to move to Hawaii
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:40 PM
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I lived 1km from the coast for a few years

Observing was average nothing great and at times terrible those nights the beach sounds it right at your back door are the worst the sound is bottled in a narrow layer along with heavy salt laden air .
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Old 03-06-2020, 10:28 PM
DarkArts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunfish View Post
Cheap Coastal real estate which regularly grows in area.
Hot property, indeed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamL
those nights the beach sounds it right at your back door are the worst the sound is bottled in a narrow layer along with heavy salt laden air
We used to call that a 'marine layer' or 'ducting', usually apparent when the wind drops and temperatures are suitable so you get a dense, moist air layer either on the surface or just above it. IIRC, they can extend in height up to about 100m but are typically <40m.
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Old 04-06-2020, 12:32 PM
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My observatory at Clayton is 6km from the southern coast, the Murray Mouth and behind Hindmarsh Island. The winds during the day tend to be off the ocean. Seeing at Clayton can be as good as 0.7 arc seconds. Generally though it is around 1.5 arc seconds. I have done some great imaging there both planetary and DSO and can say when we sell the property I will miss the seeing. There are to my knowledge a few sites around Australia on the coast that have excellent seeing but they are quite a way from Cities. One military installation was built at Exmouth because the seeing there is as good as altitude. They run several very large scopes there imaging objects in near earth orbit. If you are on the east coast though seeing seems to be poor in general. I spent quite a bit of time in my younger years living in the eastern states and seeing always seemed average to me.

Seeing aside the cloud is problematic at Clayton. I often can only image sections of a night because of cloud fronts moving into the site. Hence why I set up remote systems on site. So bear in mind the cloud.

Salt laden air can also be a problem too. On cameras that draw in air over the boards of the camera the salt laden air will destroy a camera in no time. I know one manufacturer that completely redesigned their cameras to combat that problem as they were seeing many cameras with corrosion on their boards coming in for service work. My QSI was completely unaffected by the salt though as the design only pulls air over the casing which acts as the heat sink. None of the other equipment (mounts, telescopes etc) had any trouble either. Salt also creates more work on your house too. Paint etc degrade faster near the ocean.

Personally, I think if you can find a spot in land, away from the ranges (without steep topographic which cause eddies in the air) you are likely to get pretty good seeing and dark skies. There are plenty of nice townships in South Australia within the International Dark Sky Reserve that fit that bill. Some are even quite cosmopolitan now.
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Old 04-06-2020, 02:56 PM
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40 m sounds right coming over the top of a large hill up the road I could see the layer just rolling in from the coast , I got pretty picky when i put stuff outdoors after that
Iam 6kms from the coast now and its pretty good most of the time ,whens its not , cloudy , raining or a big lightning storm is sitting off the coast .
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