On clear moonless nights, visitors are treated to a brilliant view of the night sky as it looked to our ancestors before electric lights. People who know the constellations may have a little trouble finding them because there are so many ‘extra’ stars that are usually hidden by light pollution. The Milky Way, a faint glow in suburban skies, is bright here and can be seen in detail. The Andromeda Galaxy can easily be seen with the naked eye, and is spectacular in binoculars. Astronomers may want to bring their telescopes; everyone will want to look at the most universal natural wonder there is.
Extra advice about skywatching at the Camps is available upon request.
FAQs for astronomers and others.
An amateur astronomer who visits the Camps frequently offers the following advice to amateur astronomers and others who may want to visit.
How dark is it really? The Bortle Dark-Sky Scale rates skies from one to seven, with seven being the best. I would rate this as seven, although I didn’t see (and might not recognize) the Zodiacal Light, . Dust lanes and other detail are easy to see in the Milky Way. I saw the Double Cluster in Cassiopeia before I even noticed the constellation.
How is the view? There is a grassy field that offers a 360º view down to about 15º above the horizon. Two trees in the south extend an additional 15º up. (I suspect them of moving to get in front of things I’m looking at, but can’t provide evidence.) If you really need to see the horizon, there are areas within a mile or so, which should accommodate in most directions.
How often is it clear? Even New Mexico sites can’t promise clear skies. You can look at http://www.wunderground.com/tripplanner/index.asp or other sites to get an idea about the chances.
I’m a telescope user. What else do I need to know? I’ve experienced a lot of dew, so bring a dew heater or at least a dew shield. Batteries can be charged from AC current during the day, but not at night because the power goes off at 10PM. There is no internet or cell phone service, so plan to do without.
©MildredKennedy.com Oct 20th 2012 –5:28am, Nikon D800 fisheye 16mm 30 sec. f 2.8 iso 3200
International Dark-Sky Association
The World at Night – TWAN
Astronomers without Borders
Bates Museum of Fine Art,
Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography
Bill Green’s Maine piece at Bates College Astrophotography workshop held at the camps October 2012.
Celebrate the Dark Sky – Astrophotography
16mm f2.8 30sec ISO3200 Oct 20th 2012, 5:29am