Tranquility Base Here

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  • Member since
    August, 2004
Tranquility Base Here
Posted by stars4life on Wednesday, February 04, 2009 5:44 PM

Hey all.... I just settled (at 11:00 this morning) on 5 acres with a freshly rehabbed 3 bedroom trailer at the Delaware Bay Shore. This is to become among other things... the home of my Astronomy Retreat/Observatory and future (early?) retirement place!

It's been 5 years in the searching. I looked in the mountains of Pa, W. Virginia, and the pine barrens of South Jersey. My check list for this search was about 10 items long... Primary to any property being considered was reasonably dark skies. Naturally cost, taxes, maintenance, accessibility, other things of interest for me to do there... and more had their places on the list (sadly cost being above dark skies... ; (. Also… knowing it was the place I’d been looking for was important, and this place has that nailed. There were hawks and turkeys in my yard today for God’s sake. NATURE!!!

Last year, for a number of reasons I stopped considering places more than 3 hours from where I own my primary residence. Before that I almost bought 15 acres w/farm house in upstate Pa, walking distance to a huge lake and very dark… (that deal fell through when it became obvious that the septic system was shot and... as-is... which meant at least $25,000 extra from me). I also saw many other nice places that I almost made offers on, but one thing or another was problematic about each of them (like 2 acres, a kinda new log cabin, on a 4000ft mountain top w/three sides of 25 mile views... $100,000... in W. Virginia... but 25 Miles to town..... Dude, that's a long drive for bread and milk).

Anyway... There are 2 great condition sheds on this property, one will house my 17.5 Discovery Dob for the foreseeable future, I’ll put a pad in front of it to accommodate the scope and step ladder. The other shed is a 12x30 wood working shop w/electric. I will be building a dog house w/pier for my 6" Meade until I have time to build a domed observatory for the planned big fork-mount scope. We’ll see how things go on that, I decided to go with a dome for sure but I'm in no rush. I need time at the place, in the dark to get the feel for exactly how to proceed.

Skies there are 6 mag, and cloudless nights are in the higher than average rate for New Jersey. With a 20 minute boat ride I can get to a beach w/6.5 mag skies... For those special dark sky events! It's that point SSE. No roads lead to there, but I want to try camping that point sometime for a meteor shower.

It's not a perfect site. There is a single street light to the south and in plain site of where I plan to setup. It’s at the edge of my property and it shall be addressed. Also, there is a smallish town 2 miles due south, and being a coastal boating village will be lit up during the warmer months I guess. Let’s not forget the bugs... The Jersey Bird, aka, the Mosquito. Having camped in the area over the years, it can be rough, but far from unbearable with preparation and spray.

The G E image above shows the area looking dead south, w/a pin in the Tranquility Base. 25 miles away in the top left is Cape May NJ, small light dome in the summer I think… The land mass top right is Delaware. Dover is 20 miles SW and puts up a 10 degree light dome as I guesstimated one clear night at the property.

Who can guess what my post title will be when I get Dobbie set up down there? Think… Tranquility Base here…

Wish me luck.


  • Member since
    May, 2012
Posted by WannaB on Friday, February 06, 2009 1:39 PM

Well, congratulations!!!

Sounds like you put a lot of thought into the search and purchase of your personal little slice of Heaven. 

Good Luck!  I'll be out to visit when you get it all done.Whistling

  • Member since
    August, 2004
Posted by stars4life on Saturday, February 07, 2009 4:16 PM

Hey WannaB… Thanks and give me a year or 2 before planning a trip out. lol

I was down the other day and did an hours long daylight assessment of the sites possible viewing spots. There are 3 good ones and I’ll spend time with a tripod at all three before picking the dome’s loc.

The spot farthest from the house has the best/clearest horizons and is blocked from the street light by thick woods to the NE. It might be a pain for other things though, won’t know till I try setting up there. For example... there were loads of deer tracks in the fresh snow. May be easier to let them have that spot. The dog house will be near the trailer and dob shed so that’s picked out pretty much, and there is another good spot 100 feet or so past that.

I found out that the field on the other side of the street, and a small piece of what looks like part of my front yard is nature conservation land. I will be trying to get them on my side about the street light, so that may just go away. Will need to get on that soon.

The Clear Sky Clock I’m using is for a loc about 15 miles due east… The South Jersey Astronomy Club uses that loc as their viewing site. My place has a bit less LP but is other wise very much in the same weather pattern.


  • Member since
    May, 2012
Posted by WannaB on Saturday, February 07, 2009 5:04 PM

You've already voluntarily completed a wildlife impact study?  I'm impressed!Big Smile  Sounds like you have quite a bit of study and planning to do.  Although it's the good kind of mental exercise in this case.  I won't pack my bags just yet.

  • Member since
    August, 2004
Tranquility Base Landing Site Selected
Posted by stars4life on Monday, February 09, 2009 9:48 PM

Well, I think that I nailed down the spot that I will be using for the main observatory at Tranquility Base. It will mean cutting down one kinda scraggly 20 ft tree, but it is the best place that is near to the trailer. Actually, it will be against the south wall of the workshop.

First in that spot though, I will be experimenting with a design concept that I have for a tall pier. It will be a less massive version of what I need if all goes well at the building inspectors office. The trial unit will be put in the same loc that I plan on putting the final version. It would be nice to have that first attempt ready to use for this month’s new moon, but I’m pretty busy between now and then so… it’s doubtful.

My time at the property last night was informative even though the full moon kept me from enjoying my new dark site through an eyepiece. The loc for the dome will be within sight of the single streetlight to the south, and will also have a farmer’s barn’s light in view to the west from about ¼ mile away. I’ll work on both of those. There are one or 2 other lights visible through the trees but they are much farther away and pretty dim.

The loc has open sky with low horizons to the E-S-W (only 5 to 10 degrees blocked by trees). North has maybe 20 degrees in the trees. Though there are two better spots so far as stray light and southern horizons go, this one’s easy electricity accessibility, and being only 100 ft from the trailer are both huge pluses.

I can’t wait for first light night down there. My friends were teasing me before dinner last night that so far I only have moved my scopes in… Then they asked me when they can come back to see comet Lulin! Nice.

  • Member since
    May, 2012
Posted by WannaB on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 9:03 AM

My friends were teasing me before dinner last night that so far I only have moved my scopes in… Then they asked me when they can come back to see comet Lulin! Nice.

We mock what we do not understand or would like to do ourselves, but can't!Laugh


  • Member since
    October, 2007
Posted by aquadan005 on Monday, June 29, 2009 11:24 PM

Hey stars, I'll be vacationing not too far from you in Aug. and I don't live all that far from you anyway. So if you find a strange two tone brown Ford pick-up in your driveway someday soon, don't shoot that will be me ! Wink

Lime and limpid green a second scene, A fight between the blue you once knew. Floating down the sound resounds Around the icy waters underground Jupiter and Saturn Oberon Miranda and Titania Neptune Titan Stars can Pink Floyd - Astronomy Domine ________________________________________________ For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals Then something happenend which unleashed the power of our imagination We learned to talk - Stephen Hawking
  • Member since
    August, 2004
Posted by stars4life on Wednesday, July 29, 2009 9:31 AM

Hey AquaDan… a two tone brown Ford pick-up is really not that strange, but I do need to warn you though that my neighbor is a bit paranoid and suspicious of strange cars on our road. It's almost like having a personal guard at the property.  Big Smile

Anyhow… Things have changed significantly since I bought the property, and not necessarily for the better as far as using it as an astronomy base. (I've been told that) right after I closed, a 15 acre tract of land across the street went to auction (I thought that the whole field over there was protected wildlife reserve. Not so).

The new owner immediately applied for permits for 15 - $350,000 houses, and as the saying goes… “there goes the neighborhood.” I have taken my 17.5” dob down and used it a few times… “AWESOME!” But I have put on hold any and all “permanent observatory” plans until I see what the new development will bring in the way of LP.

They cut a road in a couple weeks ago and also removed the old pole barns that were in the back of that plot. I have not checked with the township as to what is going on over there because my next door neighbor has been keeping me updated. He stated that the builders have a bank of lawyers (already used to push through some variances), and they seem to be trying to move quickly on the project.

This could be great for my resale value, but might wipe out my desire to spend the effort building an observatory there. Not only that, the hawks across the street will be moving too I would imagine. Drats, and double drats!!!

Depending on how much light the new houses throw up (yes…I said throw up) I could just move the spot for my dome to the south end of the field, or... if this turns out to be disastrous for my plans I will be selling and getting a better place. Once the market improves, and with the possible profit from the Base, I could even go beach front (lemonade!)

I’ll update when I know more.


  • Member since
    August, 2004
Posted by stars4life on Thursday, February 06, 2014 11:34 PM

Last week I paid off the mortgage on Tranquility Base. Wink

Over the past 5 years I have been spending weekends there when I could. I’ve also been driving the 2 hours from work in the wee hours of the morning when conditions were right and there was a view I didn't want to miss...

I have not yet found the time to build a single permanent pier or scope housing. I've been too busy working to pay the place off, and keeping ahead of the maintenance on my 125 year old triplex (which I hope to sell this year). 

It has been great to just put the scope away and crawl into bed, as opposed to making a long drive home from the ole dark site.

Both the sheds and the trailer at the Base survived 2 storms that caused some level of roof and water damage... One storm was Sandy, which gobbled up a dozen houses within 2 miles of the Base. The road was closed for a week just beyond my driveway. Dodged that bullet... Barely!

Anyway, plans are starting to firm up for some upgrades and add-ons. The first astronomy related structure should go up by summer. It'll be a pier set in the ground and waiting for a deck to be built around it.

The deck will go up once the triplex sells, or next year which ever comes first. It’ll be off the kitchen and have plenty of room for gatherings with the scope housing at the farthest southern end. I’ll put together a temporary circular platform to be able to use the pier if the deck has to wait too long.

There’s a long list of other buildings and stuff to do by retirement (5 to 7 years away); at least 3 more out-buildings, 400 feet of fence to go up, and planting the rest of the orchard for instance. If the triplex sells for what I think it will some of that stuff will happen sooner rather than later.

I totally love it there, and my neighbors... the few I have... have been very nice so far.

It took 5 years to find the right place, 5 years to pay it off, and now... the third 5 year plan is in effect.  


PS... From what I am told by the township, the development across the street has been permanently cancelled!



  • Member since
    October, 2005
Posted by leo731 on Friday, February 07, 2014 3:07 PM

Thanks for the update.  It is a nice feeling to own the property outright isn't it? 

Good luck on the next five years.


A nebula in the eyepiece is worth two in the Atlas.

  • Member since
    July, 2011
Posted by Darren in Tacoma on Friday, February 07, 2014 5:24 PM
Good for you. One step closer to living the dream. I really hope you enjoy.

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