I spent last week in Great Basin National Park, located in eastern Nevada. It is a special place for astronomy--dry air, very dark location, and the ability to observe from the 9300 ft. elevation Mather Overlook. I was there a couple years ago and fell in love with it. The Park has great camping, hiking, etc; and a tour through the Lehman Caves is not to be missed.
10" Orion XT dob
- 30mm Orion Stratus eyepeice
- 17mm Vixen Lanthanum Wide eyepiece
- 9.5mm Orion Epic ED-2 eyepiece
- 7.5mm Orion Lanthanum eyepiece
25X100 Celestron skymaster binoculars
- Universal astronomics heavy duty unimount deluxe
- Oberwork tripod
12X63 Orion Little Giant binocs
Unfortunately, the weather wasn't perfect but there were still good observing opportunities 3 of the 4 nights I was there. Even 'OK' conditions at Great Basin are still as good as if not better than a great night at every other location I've observed from. The altitude provides for outstanding transparency and the Milky Way is incredibly bright. Andromeda is not only easy with direct vision, but is a good 1/2 - 1 degree wide. M13 is easy with the naked eye, as is M8.
Scanning Sagittarius with the 25X100 binocs as well as my 30mm eyepeice in my scope was an incredible experience! The dark areas stand out beautifully against the backdrop of countless stars and the glow of the Milky Way.
With the 17mm eyepiece (this is a great deep sky object eyepiece!), M17 not only takes on its characteristic '2' shape, but a lot more nebulousity can be seen off the '2' shape, as if it were flaming. M8 is stunning, and the three lanes in M20 were easily visible. M27 had a pronounced 'apple core' shape as well as much more nebulousity around it. Dust lanes in M31 stood out very well. M51 took on its 'whirlpool' appearance, but I have seen it more pronounced other times. The Helix looked awesome, and I could just make out dimmer nebulousity within the brighter ring shape. I had forgotten how large this object is! I was even able to make out detail in M33! Both elements of the Veil were easily visible. The larger, brighter component was especially detailed and mottled in my scope.
I highly recommend this location if you can get to it. A very dark sky combined with the altitude makes for an incredible observing experience. It's a 2 day drive for me, but definitely worth it!