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TheNiche

Navigating Around Houston's Footprint on the Night

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While searching for a good stargazing site within a reasonable distance of Houston (that's less populated than Brazos Bend), I happened upon this photo of the Houston area as viewed from space at nighttime by the DMSP-18 military weather satellite. Neat.

HOU_night.JPG

But I know from experience that the light pollution extends far beyond what is visible from space. Does anybody have particular suggestions?

I was thinking that the Brazoria or San Bernard National Wildlife Refuges could work, but are they accessible at night? (And might the mosquitoes try to carry someone off?) Alternately, I think that somewhere in southern Lavaca County, southern Colorado County,, western Wharton County, or northern Jackson County would probably be really productive, but I don't know of any public lands out there that are away from a township or highway. Would the wide open streambed of Sandies Creek be considered public land?

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In between Coldspring and Cut and Shoot, there are some old FM roads that can take you pretty deep into Sam Houston National Forest. Believe it or not, it's far enough away from all the city's ambient light to get a pretty great view of the stars.

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In between Coldspring and Cut and Shoot, there are some old FM roads that can take you pretty deep into Sam Houston National Forest. Believe it or not, it's far enough away from all the city's ambient light to get a pretty great view of the stars.

Beware of banjo players.

Actually, he's right, though Cut and Shoot is a little too close to Conroe. The area between Coldspring and New Waverly is pretty sparse, and FM 1375 running west of I-45 across the northern end of Lake Conroe can be mighty spooky at night.

Edited by RedScare

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While searching for a good stargazing site within a reasonable distance of Houston (that's less populated than Brazos Bend), I happened upon this photo of the Houston area as viewed from space at nighttime by the DMSP-18 military weather satellite. Neat.

HOU_night.JPG

Any idea where a higher resolution of this image could be found?

Edited by Jeebus
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Any idea where a higher resolution of this image could be found?

I wish.

And this'd make a great suggestion for a Google Earth layer, too.

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it would be cool to frame this. is it public property?

Edited by lockmat

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Beware of banjo players.

Actually, he's right, though Cut and Shoot is a little too close to Conroe. The area between Coldspring and New Waverly is pretty sparse, and FM 1375 running west of I-45 across the northern end of Lake Conroe can be mighty spooky at night.

I trust that you speak from experience. The big question where it comes to the piney woods isn't so much one of where I can find public lands. It's where there would be public lands with a sufficiently large clearing that I can get a view of the sky. Any specific suggestions? Do you think someone like a game warden would be a good resource?

Oh, and bear in mind that my interest in stargazing is mostly just an excuse to fool around with my date in a quasi-public place. I probably should've mentioned that earlier, but I was sober then.

it would be cool to frame this. is it public property?

It's an image from a government satellite. Yes.

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I trust that you speak from experience. The big question where it comes to the piney woods isn't so much one of where I can find public lands. It's where there would be public lands with a sufficiently large clearing that I can get a view of the sky. Any specific suggestions? Do you think someone like a game warden would be a good resource?

The ranger station is near New Waverly. They can give you precise locations to go to. Otherwise, you'd probably prefer just to drive to a wide stretch in the road and hike into the first break in the trees you can find. Just make sure you have a compass, preferably a GPS and a map that clearly designates National Forest property boundaries. Nothing can spoil a hike more than stumbling upon some farmer's pot crop or some biker's mobile meth lab.

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Any idea where a higher resolution of this image could be found?

Not sure if this is the same:

pettit_Houston1adj%204videoISS006E44598_crop1_ni1_f.jpg

Other items of note:

iss022-e-078463.jpg

Texas at night:

texas-at-night.jpg

houston-night.jpg

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Mont Belvieu is pretty dark. We go out that way durring meteor showers and can see more than in most places around town.

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House Hahl Road off 290 used to be very very good and fairly accessible, but it has since been destroyed by new neighborhoods.

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Not sure if this is the same:

iss022-e-078463.jpg

This is a newer picture. You can tell by the additional development towards the west with the increase and intensity of the lights. Maybe within in the past 10 years?

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This is a newer picture. You can tell by the additional development towards the west with the increase and intensity of the lights. Maybe within in the past 10 years?

Yep, it looks like this picture dates from at least late 2005. Unlike the other picture, you can see the Fort Bend Tollway, which was completed in 2004, and you can see the Westpark Tollway extension running out to the Grand Parkway, which was completed around November 2005.

Edited by JLWM8609

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I just got back from a trip out to the Big Bend and would have to say you really need to get west of I-35 and out into West Texas for truly GREAT star gazing.

Around Houston though, try Brazos Bend State Park. I've heard decent reviews of the stars out there. Gotta go in a couple weeks though when it's a new moon. Moon is very full right now.

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Here's one that's more disorienting, since it is not oriented to north (if the image was rotated about 90 degrees clockwise, north would be up)...

and this one was supposedly taken by ISS earlier this year.

houston_highres.jpg

Edited by samagon

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Here's one that's more disorienting, since it is not oriented to north (if the image was rotated about 90 degrees clockwise, north would be up)...

and this one was supposedly taken by ISS earlier this year.

Amazing how southwest Houston lights up even brighter than refineries to the east.

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I just got back from a trip out to the Big Bend and would have to say you really need to get west of I-35 and out into West Texas for truly GREAT star gazing.

Around Houston though, try Brazos Bend State Park. I've heard decent reviews of the stars out there. Gotta go in a couple weeks though when it's a new moon. Moon is very full right now.

Agreed. The best stargazing I ever did was out past San Antonio. Just drive west on I-10. I just pulled off at a rest stop and saw more stars than I'd ever seen before in my life. Stars all the way down to the horizon. It was incredible.

In the immediate Houston area, I wonder what it's like to look at the stars from a boat off of Galveston. The rock-and-sway would preclude any telescopes, but to just sit there and watch nature's majesty, a boat might be ideal.

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Agreed. The best stargazing I ever did was out past San Antonio. Just drive west on I-10. I just pulled off at a rest stop and saw more stars than I'd ever seen before in my life. Stars all the way down to the horizon. It was incredible.

In the immediate Houston area, I wonder what it's like to look at the stars from a boat off of Galveston. The rock-and-sway would preclude any telescopes, but to just sit there and watch nature's majesty, a boat might be ideal.

That reminds me. Where we ended up at was Double Bayou Park in Chambers County. Being surrounded on three sides by water, the air was a little bit humid...but not to the point that haze became a problem except at the horizon. The sky was partly cloudy, with low but wispy clouds. The clouds to the west of that location were reflecting back some ambient light from across the Bay, but it wasn't too distracting. It was a good location, but I only saw a handful of meteors.

Before heading home, we drove out to Smith Point and lingered around out there for a bit. It's much more lit, however the one meteor I saw (she didn't) seemed to shoot directly over Galveston Bay in a south-southeasterly direction. Not having a good sense of distance or velocity, it may have actually been high over north and west Texas; but the effect was stunning and beautiful all the same. It felt close.

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