I'm thinking of heading to the Blue Mountains and spending a night or two doing astrophotography at an Air BNB or something alike. I've popped off some messages but am not sure if they'll understand what I'm after - Field of view, southern sky, no neighbouring flood lights, etc.
Does anybody have any recommendations or have any successful experiences?
Last Edit: May 22, 2019 20:31:53 GMT 10 by ramon680
I tried photographing the Milky Way with a wide angle lens and simple tripod a few years back. I did it at the Three Sisters lookout because it was a nice flat area, and late night most of the lights are off, and there is also place to park. Problem was, at regular intervals, a ranger drives around the area, so could spoil your exposures.
I didn't try going to the tip of the lookout where you go down below the main deck. Maybe that will be much darker. I don't recall if the spotlight which illuminates the Three Sisters are on all night, or whether they turn them off late night. Of on, could be an interesting foreground to the Milky Way.
My wife and I stayed at Lilianfels, BEEEEAUTIFUL hotel. In hindsight, I could have photographed the Milky Way from the poolside. 😕
Well... as a long time commuter to the blue mountains, the solution depends on whether you want the ultimate observing site and just a place to crash for a few hours afterwards before driving home, or whether you really want all the creature-comforts of home and a less-than-ideal view of the sky.
There are two problems: A. You cannot book the place you want at short notice, you will have to book months in advance and take a punt on the weather. B. Throughout most of the mountains the minimum booking is 2 nights, some 3 nights, so... you figure.
1. I've used several sites for ~ 40 years and driven home afterwards, the golden rule being on the road by midnight (later is too dangerous). Mt Banks carpark is fairly good, so are Mt Blackheath and Hargraves Lookout (Shipley plateau). There is also a disused airstrip on Bells Line of Rd at Clarence, before Lithgow, and lastly Hassan's Walls (high ridge south of Lithgow)is also good.
2. Rent the Woolshed cabins in Centennial Glen. All the comforts, provided you don't mind being in the valley (limited horizons).
3. Cloud Nine B&B, view east over Kings Tableland and Sydney in the far distance. The problem here is you are facing east... there are others like this where you can set up on a solid deck, mostly on Cliff Drive in Katoomba.
Lastly, if you want to pay the $$$ there are some houses available in Olympian Parade in Leura that have a decent size garden big enough for a portable scope on Stayz/AirBnB. I have stayed in a couple with the family but you have to book a year in advance to get these, the weather can be unpredictable, and there is the question of how much baggage...
Last Edit: Jul 12, 2020 12:51:33 GMT 10 by maxpower
Some years ago Jos Roberts, Ken & Marie Root, Ron Washington and myself stayed at a B&B on the caves road not far past Jenolan caves, looking at google maps I see 'McKeown's Rest Jenolan Caves Bed & Breakfast' which is probably the one, they had a area out the back where we set up our telescopes. They were a little bemused by our 'antics' but they had a lovely hot fire and warming drinks ready for us when our telescopes iced up.
Interest: Astrophotography, Dark Matter Black Holes etc Equipment: Celestron 8" Edge HD
Skywatcher Esprit 120mm APO Triplet Refractor
Skywatcher AZ EQ6 Pro mount
ZWO 1600mm pro cooled camera
EFW 5 Band filter wheel
ZWO ASI290MM mini guide camera
I've been thinking similar thoughts about getting away and doing some decent astro in the hills. Did you have a time in mind? The whole covid thing would probably have me sleeping in the car or my wife would have me in quarantine in the garage for 14 days afterwards.
Celestron 8" Edge HD Skywatcher Esprit 120mm APO Triplet Refractor Skywatcher AZ EQ6 Pro mount ZWO 1600mm pro cooled camera EFW 5 Band filter wheel OAG through ZWO ASI290MM mini guide camera
Thanks for all the suggestions. I've been wanting to camp in attempt to save money, but the down side to that is that any campground will likely have a few campers which means multiple sources of campfire smoke and people pointing their LED lamps left right and centre. I've done Blackheath lookout before which is nice but not a full sky view and you still have the odd car driving through with their headlights being a pain. Yet, there is a bathroom.
I hadn't seen Mt Banks before, looking on Google maps it looks like there's a dirt road with a few nice side spots where I could camp and not be bothered by others. I did note a gate at the turn off from the tarmac road to the dirt road, anybody know if this is locked? Or is it only for fire season?
Alternatively I like the look of Wombat Cottage at Majestic View - not far from Jenolan Caves. Not overly expensive for me and at most, 2 other cabins. It's away from roads and there's a pathed spot near one of the cabins which looks like it's the rental. Also, if booked through Airbnb, I can cancel 24hours out and get a full refund which is nice if the weather isn't looking good.
I've booked a week of leave next month during the new moon. I still have a bit of time so will keep on thinking.
Hi Ramon, regarding Mt Banks the gate at the turnoff is normally open and might be closed in high fire danger.
Please note camping is not permitted at Mt Banks - and the ranger does patrol at night to check. The spot I used is the first carpark about 100m in on the righthand side of the road - there's a concrete water tank nearby. If you follow the road further down there is a picnic area with slab tables and fireplaces, usual NPWS stuff so you could light a fire to warm up and have a picnic at 4am, and you just happen to be lying on the ground...
Wombat cottage is good but that location is bloody cold, many years ago before it was built I camped there once and it snowed. In February.