Southeast Arizona Stargazing – The amazing dark skies will enthrall you.
Southeast Arizona stargazing is magnificent because of the dark night skies. There are many large telescopes in Pima, Cochise and Gila Counties. Because of the limited light pollution, amateur astronomers come to Southeast Arizona just to take advantage of the stargazing. There are astronomy clubs that have viewings during the darker nights of the month around the time of the new moon.
Down By The River B and B is located in Saint David, an area that is away from city lights. There are few neighbors in the country setting that provide back lighting from their homes. Little traffic is on the roads to add glare to the surrounding area. We also have a telescope that can be used to view the night sky. We have also had guests that bring their own equipment to use at the b and b during the time they spend here doing Southeast Arizona stargazing.
We have had some guests that have stayed here for a longer period of time and have showed us some tricks to use when viewing the dark skies. We have also had a couple of guests that were into astral photography but both used a different device and techniques to take their pictures. Interestingly both were from Canada.
David set his camera up on a tripod and programmed the camera to take pictures at set intervals and had the lens open for specific exposure lengths. He would take up to 100 photographs this way and then use a program that he has to layer each photo on top of each other. The software would then fill in the lines and give a star track view of the sky. Sometimes he would also have a meteor show up on the film.
Our other guest John had an electronic device that would track stars. The equipment would be mounted on the camera tripod with the camera attached to it. Then the tracker would be aligned with the North Star, After that, he would aim the camera at an object to photograph and take the picture for the time duration he wanted. John does have a special camera that was modified to enhance the pictures using this method but a normal DSLR camera will work. Angie saw my enthusiasm and bought the equipment for me to use.
I have tried it and it takes some work to get the lens focused properly but I am getting better the more I try. I have photographed the moon, and the alignment of Venus, Jupiter and Mercury. My first attempt with the tracking equipment actually worked well enough for me to have a picture of Jupiter with one moon showing. I have tried to photograph Orion with a little success and finally the Pleiades. But alignment and focusing are the key elements for success.
For others that do not have or know how to use the equipment but would like to view the stars, San Pedro Valley Observatory is within 30 minutes drive and they will show you the stars. Appointments are needed to do the viewing. So next time you want to do some Southeast Arizona Stargazing come to Cochise County and stay at Down By The River B and B. The stars are amazing – See for yourself.