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About Naaaysmith

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  1. I live inside the M60 of Greater Manchester and I've come to conclusion that is not possible to drive to a suitable dark sky location in 40 minutes. The dark sky regions that are in reach [around Marsden, say] will also be regularly visited by people with other pursuits. I offer this anecdote: I drove to Wessenden Head Reservoir in Kirklees around 10pm October time last year. Reasonably dark skies and less than 40 minutes away. There's a little car park at the top of the hill big enough to hold six cars. You can then walk through the gate [with a slightly chilling memorial photo of Keith Bennett attached] and head down the slope and arrive at the reservoir. An ideal location with a nice flat concrete ground and far enough down the slope to block most if not all the light pollution from the nearby road. I got down there and was pleased to see what I recognised as the milky way. My binoculars filled up with stars. 'Nice one' I thought, having found my local dark sky spot. Time to go. Made my way up the slope and then about half-way I could see car headlamps crawling past my car parked at the top of the hill. Instant anxiety. I marched on up, hoping that they would have gone by the time I got up there. Instead I found two cars, one parked alongside my car and another still on the road with its headlamps on. I kept my head down. Walked to my car and drove off, chucking all my gear and stuff into the passenger chair. The car parked next to mine had two guys in the front and two in the back. They were all stoners and probably wondered who the hell I was. It's not that all unexpected when you think about it. A metropolitan area with a population of 2.8 million will have plenty of people with driving licenses and the ability to access out-of-sight places for whatever. The stories I've heard from others are no more reassuring. Novice astronomers who have ventured to out to Dove Stone reservoir after hours only to find debauchery and similar nonsense. More equipt astronomers with camper vans able to go beyond the reach of Stalybridge stoners only to get accosted by suspicious farmers. Not giving up, I have now taking up camping as a means to access dark skies safely. It gives you freedom to stargaze freely, in public, in beautiful surroundings, for a small pitching fee. I recently went camping with my daughter in Derbyshire and it was excellent.
  2. Living inside Greater Manchester is proving to be a big problem when looking for dark skies. Nearby darker sites such as Hathersage, Bacup and Marsden can take over an hour to get to by car, and then once there, there are no suitable or safe areas to park. I have read threads which suggest camping as the way to go. I would like recommendations for dark sky camping sites in the Yorkshire Dales, Peak District or even a bit further out into North Wales. Cost wise, I'm looking at under £60 for two nights in total. For it to be economical, the cost has to be comparable to petrol costs for a return trip from Manchester to Edinburgh [440 miles, £45 approx] . Otherwise, It would be cheaper for me to go to my parent's house instead. So lets hear it! Think of the local tourism industry. I am willing to spend money [within reason].
  3. Hello, Do group stargazing visits at the Winscar reservoir get announced here? Also, where do you park at the Winscar reservior? Regards Alex
  4. There is currently a strong El Nino which is likely to be causing all this mild and cloudy weather.
  5. I've built a tripod for my Orion Starblast 4.5 telescope following the instructions for a 'Super Simple Tripod 2x4' from http://eyesonthesky.com/Home.aspx I'm rather pleased with it. It's made from 18mm ply and 38x89mm planed timber. It's well sturdy. Kids rather like it as well.
  6. I have the Pentax PCF WPII 10x50 and the Strathspey Marine 10x50, £160 and £100 respectively. I will say the Strathspeys are excellent value for money and comparable to the Pentax in quality. The Pentax does have better baffling, focus, optics and so on, but the Strathspeys aren't a million miles behind. My only gripe with the Pentax is with the right eye incremental diopter adjustment. I cannot be 100% sure where the 0 position is. It can turn a total of 19 to 20 'clicks' and these become less distinct as you turn the diopter anti-clockwise for +ve adjustment. I would like to know if other people have found this as well. I love both pairs. They're both suitable for spectacle wearers and both mount nicely on a monopod. The Strathspeys live in the boot of my car and as a result they've been used these more often for stargazing. I think for a proper comparison, I would need to take both pairs to a dark sky site away from Manchester and look at some DSOs. I strongly suspect at this point the Pentax would become noticably superior. P.S - I enjoyed reading BinocularSky's review.
  7. This evening I drove out to the Wessenden Head Reservoir, just off the A635. There's a little gravel car park opposite the gate entrance. You could make out the Milky Way [time 9.00pm BST 12th October] even though it wasn't completely dark. Before it clouded over, I managed a quick scan of the Cygnus constellation with binoculars and the number of stars visible was beyond expectation. No doubt the darkness of this site far exceeds anything that can be expected inside the M60. At the car park, you are still exposed to car head lights, but hopefully the Wessended Head Reservoir, only a 10 minute walk downhill through the gate, promises to be an ideal spot shielded away from car head lights. I'll confirm this next time I go. I think what makes this place surprisingly dark is the elevation. Wessenden Head Reservoir is at a high elevation, 500m above sea level and 400m above Manchester. Manchester is thankfully located in a basin which means a lot of the light pollution is blocked by the surrounding hills.
  8. Excellent advice. I do believe one of the Poplars to be a particular nuisance for at least three neighbours and does contribute significantly to the blocking of gutters. It does indeed reduce enjoyment of my garden and does attract kids. I reckon a good case can be put together to have it removed. I'll start by establishing a dialogue with Tameside council and obtain support from the neighbours. Thanks Alex
  9. Has anyone got experience of requesting the council to fell trees within immediate proximity of your property? There are couple of Poplar trees as tall as my house located on the other side of my garden fence. The trees are in a park and are not registered protected. At some point in the future, the canopies of both trees will meet and completely block out the west view of the sky from my garden. I've already lopped off some branches that extended into my property. But I want at least one tree felled. How do I go about getting the council to remove a tree? Regards
  10. I'm already looking into buying plossl eyepieces. I currently have the 6mm and 17mm kellner eps that came with the scope, which according to a cloudy nights review, are good budget eps. Based on stargazers lounge beginners forum eyepiece guide, I've calculated the suggested eps for a f/4 scope to be 6mm, 12mm, 16mm, 20mm and a x2 barlow. My approach now is to place the scope down on the lawn with a picnic rug underneath and lie down next to it. It's rather portable and takes no time to set up. I managed a quick peak of M36 before it clouded up completely.
  11. My Orion Starblast 4.5" arrived today. It came with 17mm [26x] and 6mm [75x] eyepieces. I placed the telescope on a sturdy table in my back garden. The first object I looked at was Venus with the 26x magnification. Found it rather tricky to find with 75x. Next object I looked at was Jupiter. I used Jupiter to calibrate the EZfinder2. This made finding objects with 75x much easier. With 75x I saw Jupiter's cloud bands for the first time. The five objects [io, Jupiter, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto] fitted within the 75x fov. I soon got the hang of tracking Jupiter with the finder scope. Using 26x, I found the Pleiades, although with the light cloud cover only the bright stars were visible. So back to Jupiter with 75x for the remainder of the session. Very pleased, quick to set up and easy to use with the finder scope.
  12. I've ordered the Orion Starblast 4.5". I was ruminating for a while in deciding between buying large binoculars or a telescope. The recent planetary bonanza of Jupiter, Venus and Mars swung it for me to get a telescope. I was so close to buying 20x60 binoculars, but after several failed ebay bids, I think I've finally managed to overcome my binocular obsession. No one in my house wants to see another pair of binoculars and my four year old daughter will love having an actual telescope to look through. Alex
  13. I saw Jupiter's moons Io, Europa/Ganymede and Callisto for the first time on Friday 6th Feb with my Pentax 10x50 bins. At the time in the evening I looked, Ganymede was occulting Europa [or perhaps the other way around?], so I could see three points in a line from Jupiter. It was a nice surprise. I didn't expect to see Jupiter's moons with bins. What would have been their magnitudes at the time of observation? Alex
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