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New Forest observing


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Thought I'd post about what is possible from a good dark site with binoculars. I have been camping in the New Forest at Roundhill campsite for a couple of nights and both nights have been clear enough to observe. Last night was a bit cloudier so just used my 15 x 50is binoculars.

My main objective was to find M81 and M82, and both were easily visible after a quick star hop. Some slight mottling on M82 and the difference in shape was distinct.

Moved on to M51 next, and again this was relatively easy to see. Visible directly, both components were obvious with averted vision.

I tried M101 whilst I was there , and spotted it as a large faint round shape, quite satisfying to see it.

Finally, Mizar and Alcor which is an old favourite. Looked very nice in the binos and I believe I split the two components of Mizar, looked quite clear to me. I tried for M97 but no luck at all.

Next up I had a look for the M65/66. These I found much more difficult and only really suspected that I saw one of them with averted vision, assuming I was looking in the right place!

The Beehive looked amazing, filling the view with stars of varying brightness, I returned to this one a few times. Also M67 whilst I was there.

I spent quite a while in Auriga, just panning over the star patterns, using the long line of stars which run down the middle towards the bottom to lead me to M38, and following across to M36 and 37, and ultimately M35. All looked lovely in the binos, quite distinctly different but lovely with tiny stars resolving with averted vision.

I finished off with M13 and M92, both looking nice and bright in the cores, fading to the edges.

Last thing I tried was M57. I think I found it as a slightly de focused star, I was certainly in the right place. Can't remember the brightness and whether it is possible in binos.

A lovely night out under very dark skies. Finished up around midnight, crawling into a rather cold tent!


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Nice report Stu, I'm glad you're enjoying the New Forest skies.

I live just outside Ringwood on the outskirts of the new forest and sometimes I forgot just how lucky I am to have such lovely dark skies.

Although probably for not much longer. New Forest District Council have just greenlit the fields in front of my house for development (industrial and residential mix).

I'd love to move a bit further into the forest, the great thing about the relatively dark skies, is you're still only 10 minutes or so from civilisation.

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I too live on the edge of the Forest (Fordingbridge). Compared to a lot of the south of England, Turf Hill does seem quite dark, but is actually pretty bright on an objective level. It is, for example, still possible to recognise other people by their faces with no added light.

Courtesy of the excellent need-less light pollution :, we may compare Turf Hill to, say, a tad inland from Loch Loyal:



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The skies certainly were pretty spectacular. Need to get down there with a bigger scope sometime soon. Only about an hour and a half for me so not too bad but wish I lived closer. M51 is certainly not visible in binos from my back garden.


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