Wakely Dark Skies

Came across this article today: Galloway Forest Park: one of the darkest places on the planet. The article took me on a tangent to learn about John Bortle’s Dark Sky Scale. How dark is your local sky?

This article by Tony Flanders posted on Cloudy Nights gives a nice description with observations on how to judge the darkness of your sky: Ground Truth for the Bortle Scale

In the post discussion thread there is a reference for Wakely Mountain with a couple of links to the dark sky maps. I’ve been visiting Wakely Dam for the past several years for the Ultra Run. It really is a dark place and the night sky is spectacular.

Click the following images to land on the page for each map.

Wakely Mountain Light Pollution Map.  The cross hairs on the maps indicate Wakely Mountain.  You can see the northern border of New York State as a while line on the map.  The black area in the map covers Wakely, Sagamore and Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks.

Wakely Mountain Clear Sky Chart

“Dark Sky Finder – Wakely Mountain (a nice mix of Google Maps and dark sky levels)

Dark Sky Finder - Wakely Mountain

This comment on the Times Online article about Galloway Forest Park was brilliant! All credit of the remainder of the post goes to Trochilus Tales.

Trochilus Tales wrote:
There is a remote and rocky cragy area called Edmund’s Col, located in the Presidential range up in New Hampshire.

It is tucked down in, north of the second “peak” of Mt. Clay, which itself lies in the shadow of Mt. Washington, thence just southeast of a step-like rock formation known as Jefferson’s Knees, jutting out down from the peak of Mt. Jefferson. The col lies along Randolph Path up from another protected location called the Perch, and is further clockwise visually bounded by Mt. Sam Adams, Mt. Adams, which hide Mt. Madison beyond. Finally, it lies near the edge of the vast Great Gulf Wilderness, a considerable glacial cirque just out to the east.

There used to be a tiny Quonset hut located there on a flat, which hut was no more than four or four and a half feet high, and perhaps only 12 feet long or so. It was one where hikers who happened to be traversing the northern Presidential Range, could crawl in to get shelter from any of the sudden and dicey weather.

That sturdy little emergency hut is all gone now, but I suppose a tent could theoretically suffice, at least for minimal protection. You’ll need to seek permission to camp there which may not be granted. And, it doesn’t hurt to be hearty and maybe even a bit nuts. The area experiences some of the most unpredictable and severe weather on earth.

As anyone can imagine, it gets very dark there at night, and the view of the firmament on a clear evening is quite spectacular. Located at an altitude above 4,000 feet, it lies above much of the surface dust and still somewhat sparse pollution of the region.

A friend and I pitched a tent in that hut one night in mid-October, many years ago. As luck would have it, the weather turned out to be quite calm and clear.

I can still conjure up the vision of those thick clusters of stars in my mind’s eye.

Trochilus Tales wrote:
(Part II)

Now, there is only one real drawback for anyone seeking to view the stars from there. The weather can and will suddenly turn quite foul, with the potential for extremely high winds and sudden temperature drops during not infrequent electrical storms. Relatively unimpeded westerly winds blow up and over the entire Presidential range, and are especially dangerous in exposed areas on the northern and western side of Mt. Washington.

Well, that potential, and the necessity to personally haul any star-gazing equipment up to the site.

But there is a bonus. At first light, when we crawled out into the open that October morn, the complete landscape vista was heavily blanketed with beautiful crystalline formations of rime ice, entirely covering the rather exclusive plant life of the area, low-lying Krummolz shrubs, and a few arctic-alpine sedges. We stood there agape and watched as the sun rose, and the ice crystals quickly melted away. And then went speechlessly on our way.

October 24, 2009 7:18 PM BST

One thought on “Wakely Dark Skies

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