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Dark-Sky Sites:

Louisiana

 

 

 

 

Sites:


Town: Pineville

Observing site: Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge

Address: LA 28 between Pineville and LA28 / US84 intersection

Zip Code: 71360

Contact information: P.O. Drawer Z , Rhinehart, LA 71363-0201

Telephone number: (318) 992-5261

E-mail: r4rw_la.cth@fws.gov

URL: http://www.fws.gov/catahoula

Restrictions: None known

Directions: Approximately 19 miles east of Pineville, LA on LA Hwy 28, 1 mile off the north side of the highway, by the lake's flood control gates. The actual (final) road is not named, but has an Army Corps of Engineers sign by the cattle gap where it leaves LA 28. The floodgates are visible to the north of the road while driving on the bridge over the diversion canal they control.

Current weather :   Click for Pineville, Louisiana Forecast

 

How are the sky conditions? Good.  Horsehead Nebula see through a 10" Dob reflector at times.

Typical naked-eye magnitude limit on a clear, moonless night:

Zenith:

6
East: 5
West: 5
North: 5
South: 5

Best horizon (direction and approximate altitude cut-off): All, 5 deg.

Worst horizon (direction and approximate altitude cut-off): SE, due to a small light dome

Comments from contributor:  This is just a publicly-accessible area, completely devoid of any kind of development except the flood control gates.

Pros -

  • Approximate horizons are about 5 degrees in all directions.

  • All roads leading to the site are good.  The road into the area itself is a maintained gravel road.

  • There is a large flat grassy area at the end of it that's great for setup.

  • A large number of people could be accommodated assuming the ground is dry and suitable to drive on.

  • There is virtually NO artificial light visible (except, see below).

  • For a location only 20 miles from "civilization", it can be very dark.

  • There is no *nearby* concrete to radiate heat.

Cons -

  • It's public land, so people are free to come and go, with no light restrictions. If someone comes down the road, you'll have some headlights to content with sooner or later.

  • It's next to a lake that varies in depth throughout the year, so being in Louisiana, it can be a mosquito factory. But then again, so can anywhere else in the South.

  • The lake is purely for flood control and is undeveloped in terms of marinas, etc. However, since fishing takes place on the lake there will be times after dark when you have fishermen (and hunters) driving out with full headlights. However, this activity diminishes after a little while.

  • Occasionally, someone will decide to fish from the floodgates themselves, usually with a camping lantern. There are a couple of parking lots not too far from the grassy area where I observe, but they're down from it, about the height of a typical levee. As a result, it's possible to block much of it from view on the grassy area.

  • Years ago, the floodgate structure had a blinking red light (NOT a strobe) on it. That's been out for several years, but there's no telling if and when it might reappear.

  • Bottom line - It's just public land with no special provisions for astronomers. However, I've done a lot of observing from there and all in all, it's good.


 
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