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Cornwall and Proper Dark Skies




Hello there!!

 Yeah, its been a while since my last blog post. Work and family life have been unbelievably busy these past months – added to that the summer nights being short, things on the astro front have taken a bit of a hiatus. However, the nights are slowly drawing in now, and following our recent holiday to Cornwall I am slowly getting more time to get out under the stars!

 A couple of weeks ago, we took a family holiday to Cornwall. We stayed on a working farm, on the edge of Bodmin Moor. I had done some homework, and the farm had Bortle 4 skies, compared to my 6 at home in Derby!! I was looking forward to seeing some proper skies! The first few days, while warm and sunny, moved to cloud in the evenings. However, I got my chance on the Wednesday evening – clear skies from horizon to horizon! I waited for the sky to become fully dark, and went out into the little garden we had the use of at about 10:30pm. I was lucky – the farm didn’t have any floodlighting, and the only light was a security lamp on the farmhouse. I was well hidden from it anyway in the garden.

 I wasn’t able to take my 150pl with me (too big!!), but took my Celestron 20x80’s along. After my eyes became adjusted, I was rewarded with one of the clearest and brightest skies I had seen since my days living in rural North Norfolk! The Milky way was a bright band across the sky, with Saturn nestled in it toward the horizon, and so many stars I had trouble making out the constellations! M31 was bright and clear, and Double Cluster was amazing. I spent a good half hour just sweeping my bins along the star clouds of the Milkyway.

 It was then I decided to go and get my camera, and try and my hand at some basic AP. I set up my tripod and Canon 400D, set the ISO to 1600 and opened the lens to f2.8, and pointed it at Casseopia with a 30 second exposure (couldn’t do any longer than that as I had forgotten my cable release!). The image came back and even on the LCD I could see I had captured a lot of detail! I took a few more, and the results are below.


Did some basic editing in CS-5 – just tried to make the detail stand out a little more. Am quiet happy with them – only 30 sec exposures! The lack of LP was a real bonus!! This has ignited my desire to take the AP further. Nothing like getting an expensive mount (yet!), but I plan to get the dual enhanced motors for my EQ3-2 and attach my camera to that. Hopefully I can get at least a couple of minutes exposures at moderate focal length. I only have a 17-55mm lens, but is the f2.8 version. I have also looked into getting an adaptor so I can attach older FD lenses to the 400D. There are some real bargains on Ebay for 135mm / 200mm and 300mm FD lenses.

 I will do a separate review of the place we stayed – it really is perfect if you are looking for base to explore Cornwall and Devon ,and also want dark skies at night!!

Thanks for reading, and hopefully, it won’t be 6 months before I post again!!



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Nice one Nige. I'm down in Cornwall at the Eden Project in a couple of weeks and likewise staying near Bodmin Moor - can't wait to get skies like these!

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38 minutes ago, mattjanes100 said:

Nice one Nige. I'm down in Cornwall at the Eden Project in a couple of weeks and likewise staying near Bodmin Moor - can't wait to get skies like these!

Hi Matt. We did the Eden Project as well. It is amazing, and be prepared for a lot of walking! Depending on where you park, there is a park and ride bus service down to the main entrance. There are also lockers down near the bus stop at the entrance - so you can leave picnics etc in there rather than having to trek all the way back to the car like I did before finding them!! If you feel brave, try the zip line! At 660m long and about 50mph its the longest / fastest in England, and goes right over the top of the domes!!

We stayed on Trevant Farm just out of Menheniot, and if the weather behaves you will get some amazing skies. I was impressed by the seeing - it was so steady when I was out observing. Enjoy, and may you have Clear Skies!



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