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Space Earth

How To Find Nearby Dark Skies, No Matter Where You Are 55

Posted by timothy
from the look-for-the-planetarium-signs dept.
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "For those of us living in or around large cities — and that's most of us — we're completely divorced from dark, clear night skies as part of our routine experience. But even though our skies may typically rate a seven or higher on the Bortle Dark Sky Scale, that doesn't mean that significantly darker skies aren't accessible. Here's how to install an interactive light pollution map for yourself, and find the darkest skies near you no matter where you are! (North American-centric, but resources are provided for those elsewhere in the world.)"
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How To Find Nearby Dark Skies, No Matter Where You Are

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:07AM (#46911455)

    Finding an internet connection is a bit more of a challenge.

  • by ModernGeek (601932) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:27AM (#46911489) Homepage
    Here is the real site with the actual map: http://www.jshine.net/astronom... [jshine.net] I love how the most modern looking sites with all the share, like, and tracking code embedded into them have the least amount of information...
    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Thanks for the useful info. The only catch with the map is that it's a bit slow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      Here is the real site with the actual map: http://www.jshine.net/astronom [jshine.net]...

      No, that's a site with a map - had you actually read the article, you'd have found it included a way to incorporate the information in Google Earth (a map program, you may have heard of it) as well.

      I love how the most modern looking sites with all the share, like, and tracking code embedded into them have the least amount of information...

      The article referenced in the summary had plenty of information - including two differ

      • by pla (258480)
        No, that's a site with a map - had you actually read the article, you'd have found it included a way to incorporate the information in Google Earth (a map program, you may have heard of it) as well.

        Let's see, download and install a program plus download an import a map layer... Or visit a URL.

        Yes, not the same thing - But the GP's link counts as a heck of a lot more convenient for those of us who just want to find the nearest convenient spot with the lowest light pollution.

        In my case, thanks to the G
        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Or ... read the article ... follow the link to the google maps overlay.

          You fail as much as the GP.

          http://www.blue-marble.de/nigh... [blue-marble.de]

          • by pla (258480)
            First of all, the original lights survey does not equal a neatly labelled Bortle map. But fair enough, that does go to an interactive Google map of something vaguely similar to what the GP posted.

            Second... I see now how I missed the link - TFA has randomly chosen to disobey web site useability rule #1 - Don't change the style of links just because you happen to dislike underlined blue text. Very clever. Clearly, any moron could have viewed the page source, found the link (assuming they already knew it)
        • Or, I could have followed the directions in TFA and still have Google Earth spending the next hour killing my bandwidth downloading map tiles.

          If it would take you an hour to download map tiles, you need to get off your ass and upgrade your 300 baud modem.

          "Or, for the incredibly lazy, click here for a click-and-drag map" - Which conspicuously didn't actually include any sort of link?

          If you didn't see a link, try upgrading your 1990's era browser.

          Seriously, the OP is a jackass for lying and stating th

    • by houghi (78078) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @02:37AM (#46911725)

      Or just go to the page with the Google Earth image overlays for artificial night sky brightness [earthlink.net] that you can import into Google Earth and has images for the rest of the world as well.

    • by WoOS (28173)

      And for Europeans, there are ready-made maps [lichtverschmutzung.de] available (one click to load into google earth instead of downloading a .tif and positioning it).

    • by Xyrus (755017)

      Pretty much confirms what I already knew: I have to drive hours in order to find even a decent dark sky site. That's why my 10" SCT and 6" refractor have been gathering dust in my garage for the past 7 years. :P

  • by Shag (3737)

    I grew up in the Northeast Corridor (severely light-polluted), but for over 10 years have been on the "Big Island" of Hawaii and for almost 10 years, on Mauna Kea, so I'm used to 1-3 on the scale. Now I'm looking at moving back to be closer to family... hope I can find somewhere not TOO lit up.

  • OK this is tangentially on topic, especially if you're talking about cool map tricks.

    There are many individual groups holding related events throughout my state, however attempts to create a shared calendar for them have not had all the features we'd like. We've tried shared Google Calender, Wordpress plugins, etc, and none have had all the features we'd like. We'd also like to avoid existing large sites like Meetup, as we'd like to only have our own events displayed on the Calender/Map. And we want to m
  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @01:36AM (#46911631) Homepage
    n/t
  • Just go up, eventually there will be no atmosphere to disrupt your star viewing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Here is a more up to date version:
    http://djlorenz.github.io/astronomy/lp2006/ [github.io]
    With a better map:
    http://djlorenz.github.io/astronomy/lp2006/overlay/dark.html [github.io]

  • I live in the 6 range, not too far from Portland, Oregon. Some of my fondest memories involve dark skies; I'll never forget the first time I was able to see the Milky Way stretching across the sky, along with the countless other visible stars that I could never have seen at home.

    It's not something I often think of (life is busy, right?), but it was neat loading up this layer into Google Earth and tracking down approximately where I've been when I've seen those night skies.

    I can make it to a Class 3 in 1h

  • Looking at the map in the UK, the vast majority of England is coded yellow or worse (5.6 - 6.0 - suburban sky). In some places you can can get green coded (6.1 - 6.5 - suburban / rural transition), and there's only four areas coded blue (6.6 - 7.0, rural), which are along the border with Scotland, a chunk of Cornwall, a very small bit of the North Norfolk coast at Wells-next-the-sea, and a bit at the border with Wales. Wales in general fares better with some proper dark places through the central and wester

  • From the article: The most light-polluted urban areas typically hit eight or nine on the Bortle scale

    Ha! An 8 or 9 corresponds to a VLM of 4 - 4.5. That's not a "city sky" - that's open country in most, errr ... developed countries. If you want a city sky try a VLM of 0 or 1 - where there are more lights from planes than stars or planets visible.

    Oh, and having a dark sky is nice, but meaningless if there's cloud cover. A much more useful tool would be a Google Maps overlay for the number of clear nights

    • I know I'll get clear skies eventually in my geographic region, but I also know that I'll never get dark skies here, unless there's a massive power disruption. (When Hurricane Fran came through, one of the few good things about the experience was that there were dark skies for a couple of days afterward.)

  • My daughter loves science and the new Cosmos. This is a perfect tool to plan with for an upcoming warm summer night.
  • A simple (but unfortunately short) list is provided at the following site. Rumor has it these parks actually enforce rules. If you show up with a flashlifght, you will be escorted off the premises. Support your nearest dark sky state park!

    http://www.darksky.org/night-s... [darksky.org]

  • If you look at the light map, there seems to be a fairly clear line almost halfway in the middle of the US. I couldn't find a natural barrier. The Mississippi is to the east, and the Rockies to the west. But it looks to me that it's pretty much the exact eastern half of the the US is bright almost everywhere, and the western half, except for the cities, is pretty dark. It's curious to me that the line is pretty straight, north to south. Is there a reason for this other than an accident of history?
    • by sysrammer (446839)
      Mississippi River watershed.
    • by Reziac (43301) *

      That's roughly where it switches from irrigated farming (lowland watershed) to dryland farming and ranching (prairie), serious mountains, and desert, thus outside of the cities is much more thinly populated than the eastern half.

  • With the gradual encroachment of around-the-clock bright light everywhere, you don't realize what you're losing.

    Last time I went to a planetarium show, they did the standard slow-dimming-background thing, until you could see the equivalent of magnitude 5. "Ah", I thought, "this is what I remember dark skies looking like. It's a shame I have to drive an hour to see them now."

    Then we heard the voice of the narrator: "This is what most people see at night today. Now, we'll show you what a truly dark sky looks like..."

    ...and the bottom fell out of the sky.

    The number of stars multiplied at least tenfold. I still literally start to tear up when I think about it. Because I do remember, now, seeing skies like that when I was much younger; but with ubiquitous "safety" lighting, and my aging eyes, I doubt I'll ever see them again.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      When I first moved out to the desert, nights there were DARK. And a moonless sky was lit up end to end -- you don't realise what an impressive swath the Milky Way makes if you haven't seen it like this. There's actually enough starlight to cast shadows. Visitors from the city would stand there gawking, having no idea it looked like that.

      Civilization encroached, a gaggle of streetlamps went up a few miles away, and my wondrous night sky vanished into the ambient haze. And even tho the new lights were about 6

  • I have an uncle who owns a sheep station and (if all the house lights are turned off) the sky in that area is AMAZING. Its clear most of the time too (although I wish they had more rain, they really need it).

    I hope to get back there sometime and stay with them again sometime and photography is something I intend to do if I do get out there (although I have no clue how well my little canon point & shoot would do with night sky photography).

    • by K10W (1705114)

      I have an uncle who owns a sheep station and (if all the house lights are turned off) the sky in that area is AMAZING. Its clear most of the time too (although I wish they had more rain, they really need it).

      I hope to get back there sometime and stay with them again sometime and photography is something I intend to do if I do get out there (although I have no clue how well my little canon point & shoot would do with night sky photography).

      it'll do 15sec at least, if it is CHDK compatible then the firmware upgrade will get you more options on long exposure. However limited to the 15sec max of most p&s you can take several on a tripod, use 2sec timer mode to avoid shake from touching shutter button. Then stack these photos in photoshop (or similar) with screen blendmode and you'll get the equivalent of longer exposure minus the noise as most is random. If you're really bothered you could take a few dark frames covering the lens (no cap per

      • by jonwil (467024)

        Heck, I dont even own a tripod.

        • by K10W (1705114)

          Heck, I dont even own a tripod.

          You'd be surprised what you can mcguyver in a pinch, I'd still take your camera but curl up a jacket or something and rest cam on it on an angle, set to timer mode I've made do with that method when all I had on me was a compact. Could make 15sec stack a little trickier admittedly. Or pick up one of those $5 tabletop pods for compacts, don't take much weight but don't really need to. Rest it on a fence post, chair, car roof etc and it'll do the trick

  • > "on theBortle Dark Sky Scale"

    Oh come on man, that sounds like something they made up for Ghostbusters.

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