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It’s a never-ending quest for observers, lovers of the night sky and astrophotographers. Where to go to get away from encroaching light pollution, and find truly dark skies?
Most of us think of distant sites such as Death Valley, the Kalahari Desert or the Canary Islands when it comes to dark skies. And while it’s true that many observers are now traveling farther and farther away from home in search of truly dark skies, that trip need not be as far as you think.
Opportunity - Sky - Gem - State - Nebraska
We had the opportunity to visit one such often overlooked dark sky gem: the state of Nebraska. From fossils to aeronautics and astronomy, there’s lots of science to explore in the Cornhusker State. Though the state has a rich science heritage, and an active amatuer astronomy community, Nebraska is an often overlooked dark sky haven. But science tourism is also becoming increasingly popular, and Nebraska has lots to offer.
The state capitol of Lincoln, Nebraska boasts several observatories: The UNL Student Observatory, the new Branched Oak Observatory and observing site, and the Behlen Observatory outside of town in Mead, Nebraska, which houses a 1970’s era 30-inch Cassegrain reflector.
Lincoln - Mecca - Astronomy - State - Just
Lincoln is also a central Mecca for astronomy in the state. Just outside of town is the new Branched Oak Observatory site, located near the Branched Oak Lake state recreational area, itself a decent place to camp and observe. Branched Oak is the brainchild of Michael Sibbernsen, and features two observatories equipped with telescopes, one fixed in a dome, and the other in slide-off roof observatory, along with poured concrete observing pads, piers, electrical and water hookups, and that most essential of basic utilities, wifi. Branched Oak was established in 2015, and hosts public events once or twice a month.
Farther afield, don’t miss Behlen Observatory. This domed observatory is in a standalone...
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