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Thread: Scouting new observing locations

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    Default Scouting new observing locations



    I noticed another thread about observing sites - where do you observe, post a picture, etc.

    It appears that many of them are in horse fields, along the road, parking lots.

    How do you pick a location? I'm reluctant to stop along the road somewhere, especially if I'm alone. It could be an unsafe location, I could be unwittingly trespassing,
    and so on. I'd prefer to avoid contact with the police.

    So my question is, when you are scouting out a new observing location, what are you looking for? Do you knock on doors, get permission; or do you just setup on the side of the road?

    I've found that campsites typically have bright lights. Unless it is private property, or a designated dark sky site, i'm reluctant to just pick a spot by the roadside.

    -Don
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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    What about public forest lands, gravel pits, clearcuts?
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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    Hi Don,

    I know this sounds creepy but I use cemetery parking lots. Most small cemeteries are off the main highway, are usually not considered private property, they have no lights and are rarely visited at night. You just have to get over your own personal ghosts (pun intended) to feel comfortable there. I will say that I never enter the cemetery proper at night. I limit my activities to the parking lot only. Here's my favorite cemetery site. It is an old West style cemetery with Bortle 2 skies.



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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    Do you get permission? Are you at all concerned about the police showing up?

    Is this legal? Is it trespassing?

    Perhaps I'm overly cautious, but I'd be reluctant to set up in a cemetery parking lot without saying anything or getting permission.
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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    Hi Don,

    Like I said, small cemeteries out in the middle of nowhere are very rarely visited and they are open to the public as the vast majority of them are considered "Public" cemeteries. Cemeteries are not governed by laws that apply to real property or corporations due to their inherently different nature. Most states have established laws that specifically apply to cemeteries. Public use rather than ownership determines whether a cemetery is public. Thus, a cemetery, though privately owned or maintained, may be deemed a public cemetery if it is open, under reasonable regulations, to the use of the public for the burial of the dead. A cemetery, though privately owned, is properly classified as a “public cemetery” where it consists of a great number of burial plots or sites sold and for sale to the public.

    So I have never seen a living soul (pun intended again) show up while I've been in the parking lot observing and I've been using these sites for 7 years. Additionally I've never seen a sign or a posting that shows who to contact in case you want to visit the small cemeteries that I've used in the past.

    As long as you are respectful and leave nothing behind when you depart, there will be no issues.

    Cheers,
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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    Don, here is an older thread that may prove insightful: HEY! Git off my property!
    mental4astro and wdm2012 like this.
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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    Quote Originally Posted by bladekeeper View Post
    Don, here is an older thread that may prove insightful: HEY! Git off my property!
    Thanks for that, Bladekeeper. I searched the forums for the topic, but didn't find that one...
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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    I will stay away from the trespass discussion because my situation is pretty unique. But in terms of safety I use the following protocol

    Can I be accidently hit by passing traffic

    Can I be seen by passing traffic

    If someone/something does decide to pay me a visit can I see them before they see me (Car or on foot)

    With farmers, if you should accidently trespass on land, they are usually pretty cool as long as you are not a hunter, have not left a gate open, or done anything to damage any part of their land.

    And police interactions have always been positive for me. Just be respectful, tell and show them what you are doing. They will either say that's fine enjoy yourself, or move you along. In my case I had unwittingly set up in a known drug transaction area and officers suggested for my safety it would be best to leave - Which did
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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    Quote Originally Posted by MG1692 View Post
    In my case I had unwittingly set up in a known drug transaction area and officers suggested for my safety it would be best to leave - Which I did
    Whoa, that sounds much scarier than ghosts!!
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    Default Re: Scouting new observing locations

    I tried camp sites, parking lots, off road and national park locations. At the end I joined local astronomy club and can say that observing from club's dedicated dark site provides most safe, comfortable and productive observing. 2 hour drive to get there well worth it.

    Here is a link to the list of Alabama AL designated astronomy clubs.

    https://www.astroleague.org/societies/AL

    Looks like Birminingham club has designated dark site.

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