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Starhoparfa

Caravans

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Being a newbie I'm just wondering what people from the burbs do to get to dark sky sites. Living in the West Midlands, the closest really dark sky sites for me seem to be in the West Shropshire and mid Wales areas.

It struck me that caravan holidays might be a good way to observe in some comfort (whether tourer or static.) If a quiet caravan site is selected such as one of those types which doesn't have too many on site facilities then a night on the balcony or at the edge of an awning with a glass or two seems like an ideal way to enjoy the skies.

Not got my own caravan at the moment but it might be a good way of combining some great family holidays and weekend breaks with astronomy.

Any thoughts/experiences?

Edited by Starhoparfa

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hi i went on a caravan (one of those static ones) holidays with the mrs and friends last year down in brixham devon, the sky was amazing at night the site was dark where the caravan was and their was no light pollution looking south we were right up on a cliff by the sea cant think what the site was called i know it was a john fowler one the only down side i took the fishing gear instead of my scope and caught nothing......

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Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

You could load all the usual holiday gear in the caravan, keeping the back of the motor free for your scope.:(

Static caravans would seem to offer no benefit as the car would still be full of holiday gear, with little room for your scope.:o

Regards Steve

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Camping using caravans and tents is the standard way star parties are organised. Often theres an arrangement with the site owners to totally take over a campsite and a deal arranged for a full astronomy week or weekend. The one we go to at Kelling Heath even black out all the loo block lights and put regular campers in another field shielded from the dark fields.

We also take our caravan to quiet sites (Classified Listings - CL's) and ask for a pitch in the corner away from any lights (they're usually pretty dark anyway) so we can do some astronomy with a scope. CL's usually have no more than half a dozen other campers there and a lot are open all year round - and you get the benefit of electric hookup to run the gear. Absolutely ideal :(

Edited by brantuk

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Like Kim, we take our caravan to CLs (although I know these as 'Certificated Locations') and these are often fantastic for astronomy as most are on farms so are out in the countryside away from light pollution. They are very quiet (maximum of 5 outfits per site) so there is not a lot of going and arriving with headlamps at night - ideal for night time viewing and often with great daytime viewing and things to do if you like an outdoors lifestyle - which we do.

It's not for everyone though and 'townies' in particular may not enjoy some aspects of it!

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Last year i took my lovely lady to louth as there is a site that has log cabins by a little lake(very nice), i took no astro gear and wish i had as the night sky was fantastic

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We usually have a holiday in Cornwall or Devon in a static once a year. Next year the scope is definately coming with us. The wife does manage to take everything bar the kitchen sink and with a new puppy (yesterday!), space will be at a minimum. Look's like a nice big roof box is on the cards!!

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I hope to be able to combine both hobbies myself. I went to a rally last year & the skies were almost pitch black & the view looked across towards the sea over the fields etc so. The only downside is there's generally no EHU so you would have to take minimal kit. The solar Panel I have does a good job of keeping the leisure battery charged up though.

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Another vote from me!!

Had a caravan for years but have now swapped to a tent. Miss the van though.

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I take our van to the SGL star parties. I did the 1st one with a small tent and had a very uncomfortable night so I've "vanned" it since then. It's nice to have a few luxuries :(

Edited by John

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If you had listed your equipment it might be possible to say if a trip to somewhere like Sark or Alderney would be worthwhile.

Alderney is the bigger of the 2, with a small town, but the whole of Sark is I think classed as a dark sky site.

If your equipment was transportable on a plane then either would be an option. Suppose that Guernsey and Jersey could be an option if the equipment is bigger as you can get a ferry to either. Suspect they have more light pollution from the main towns but a lot less then the majority of the UK when away from either.

How about Scilly Isles?

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Done it for years

Only problem is the usual site has got much more popular and also the vogue to leave on the lights with curtains open, caravan outside light on all night and to cap it all additional outside lights scattered around each pitch because its dark

bring a torch

rant over for the moment

I don't want to put anybody off the idea

In other words pick your site carefully and you will have a great time

Edited by Ibbo !

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Hoping to put may caravan on a site just outside Peterborough this year .... for the whole season :o went there 3 times last year ... and it is sooooo dark :p can see the milky way with the naked eye :D

There is a part of the site called the "paddocks" most people dont want to go there .. Because its toooo dark lol .... I cant wait, its not cheap but it can be my home from home .. only 20 mins away !!:(

Cheers MM

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Mid Wales / Shropshire countryside is quite dark and near the W.Mids conurbations. I can't recommend any sites in particular as there are none near us- but caravaning seems like a good way of taking a lot of 'gear' with you.

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It's a great way to get to dark skies. I bought a motorhome to get away and have found loads of great places.

As mentioned by others the CL's and CS's are often superb places with a max of five vans on site and great value too. :(

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Hoping to put may caravan on a site just outside Peterborough this year .... for the whole season :p went there 3 times last year ... and it is sooooo dark :D can see the milky way with the naked eye :(

There is a part of the site called the "paddocks" most people dont want to go there .. Because its toooo dark lol .... I cant wait, its not cheap but it can be my home from home .. only 20 mins away !!:o

Cheers MM

The seasonal pitch idea appeals to me MM. :D

Our house is on a sloping site which would make caravan storage at home quite difficult. At the moment we have neither the caravan, the storage space, nor the car to pull the kind of 5-berth we'd need/like. :(

As such I'm thinking of a seasonal pitch not too far's drive away so as to get the most out of the caravan and to get around the stprage issue. Until it's time to change car (probably next year) I'm thinking of just hiring a 4x4 with a tow bar to transport it to the site.

SHA

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If you had listed your equipment it might be possible to say if a trip to somewhere like Sark or Alderney would be worthwhile.

Alderney is the bigger of the 2, with a small town, but the whole of Sark is I think classed as a dark sky site.

If your equipment was transportable on a plane then either would be an option. Suppose that Guernsey and Jersey could be an option if the equipment is bigger as you can get a ferry to either. Suspect they have more light pollution from the main towns but a lot less then the majority of the UK when away from either.

How about Scilly Isles?

New to the hobby so we only have a Skywatcher Heritage 13OP Dobsonian and some Practika 10X50s and a good tripod. As the scope has a collapsable tube the think can go upright in the boot so transporting it is no problem. I'm hoping that darker skies when going away would offset not having a larger mirror for something that has to stay at home.

For air travel I reckon that the 130P Heritage could even fit in to hand luggage divided across two pieces; or at least the tube in my bag to avoid it getting chucked about by baggage handlers ith the base in a case.

SHA

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Hi guys, me & herindoors always go away on camping holidays & since owning a scope it has been coming away with us too. All the camping gear goes in the trailer & the scope gets securely fitted into the backseat.

This years 1st jolly is going to be in june & we're going to north devon, the site we have booked is Halse farm (Halse Farm Caravan and Camping Exmoor). check out the web site and you'll understand why we are going there. It looks peeerfect for some quality observing, which is hard to get here in notts...

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