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AstroTux

Don't blame your 'scope, find a dark sky!!

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Having just returned from a week in Snowdonia I have realised that my modest telescope is absolutely wonderful!!!!

Like most novices I purchased a small telescope and then spent ages ( and an amount of money that I am not prepared to divulge :sad: ) on getting filters, eyepieces, collimators, webcams and other gizmos in an effort to improve what I could see. As I live in the centre of Reading, where the light polution is extraordinary, I thought this was what everyone does............

Little did I know. I have taken my 'scope to dark skies before ( in the NW highlands ) but due to lack of experience did not get the rewards I had from three nights observing in Snowdonia. All my usual tricks, such as using a light polution filter, etc. just showed that nothing makes up for a dark sky with a small telescope. By using just the 'scope and low/medium power eyepieces ( not the expensive types ) I was rewarded with stunning views of a number of objects. I found that I could not see the entire Andromeda galaxy even using a 40mm eyepiece with a 650mm focal length 'scope :grin: !! Forget the filters.

I know that some might say "you were lucky to be able to travel and find the dark skies", but it is well worth just taking your 'scope and a couple of eyepieces to somewhere with dark skies before you start to invest in all sorts of paraphinallia ( not sure how to spell this ).

Yes, I know it seems like a lot of trouble to go to, and I grumbled quite openly when the missus said we should take the 'scope with us. This would cause all sorts of problems packing the car for the week but I stand corrected as it was all worthwhile.

Quite simply, don't blame your 'scope until you have tried it under really dark skies. You will appreciate just how good your investment has been.

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Indeed. Nothing can do more for your observing than getting to a dark sky.

This cannot be overstated. Nice to read that another has seen the benefits of dark skies and understands a little effort to get to them is very well rewarded.

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dark sky's are the best when i took my 8inch newt to the lynn peninsula i was gob smaked nothing has even come close to what i saw that week

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I can't agree more. I am lucky enough to live under dark skies and with my smaller scope have seen some just beautiful sights.

If I'm honest, I prefer the convenience of the little scope to faffing about with the bigger one and in most cases under really dark sky the marginal improvement in light-grasp ain't worth the effort. Pity it can't see through clouds, though :smiley:

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I cant wait go camping in Snowdonia was going this year but had to cancel because of bad weather camp was flooded.

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Great post, now if I can convince everyone in London to turn their lights off...

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This is absolutely true. When you get your scope under really good skies you suddenly realise what it's really capable of !

I recall my 6" scope under dark skies (SGL star party) performing as well as my 10" does at home on deep sky objects.

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A £60 tank if diesel will give the best bang for buck of any astro purchase.

Typed by me, using fumms...

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Could not agree more. Recently, observing from the desert in Oman, my 4" Apo was virtually matching the performance on DSOs of my 11" SCT from light polluted skies in the UK. Never ceases to amaze me just what a difference a dark sky can make.

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Trouble is , it spoils you and makes it hard to motivate yourself for the quick trip to the back yard !

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Trouble is , it spoils you and makes it hard to motivate yourself for the quick trip to the back yard !

True but I've found the best way to get around that is to just view planets,lunar,double stars and open clusters at home and save the DSO's for the dark sites.

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Too true ! I was in Snowdonia a couple of years back in the winter and what I saw with my 10x50 binos was nothing short of breathtaking compared to what was available with my 120 Equinox back in light polluted Harrow.

Edited by vlebo

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I always travel out of town to a dark site, I never set up in town, pointless in my opinion, the only exception is when im going up to my fathers house in my hometown I will bring the scope if ther is a planet or planets on view, so he can have a gaze

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Very true. I dont know why the mags etc don't reflect this in their guides. For example, they describe M31 as being easily visble to the naked eye. Most people new to astronomy won't stand a chance of seeing M31 with the naked eye as most people don't live under sufficiently dark skies. There must be a lot of people who think they are doing something wrong when infact they never stood a chance.

Give me my old 6" scope under kielder skies over my 10" in Dudley any day.

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I went down to Llandrindod Wells last weekend with a few mates for a lads weekend. We were in the middle of nowhere with no light pollution at all! Didn't take the scope but took my bino's with me. Think i've got them hooked as they couldn't believe what you could see through them. Nothing like lying in a hottub at 3 in the morning watching the stars move across the sky and seeing the Milky Way the clearest I have ever seen in my life.

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Great post! Very inspiring. My backyard isn't too badly affected by light pollution, just need to deal my neighbors outdoor/security lighting depending on where in the backyard I am. However, I'm really looking forward to go somewhere with a proper dark sky. Something I intend to do this autumn.

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A dark sky will really surprise most people. Things that we use/need a scope for are easily visible by eye, and a pair of binoculars reveals even more. The big problem is finding a dark sky that is anywhere within reasonable distance.

Edited by Capricorn

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I went down to Llandrindod Wells last weekend with a few mates for a lads weekend. We were in the middle of nowhere with no light pollution at all! Didn't take the scope but took my bino's with me. Think i've got them hooked as they couldn't believe what you could see through them. Nothing like lying in a hottub at 3 in the morning watching the stars move across the sky and seeing the Milky Way the clearest I have ever seen in my life.

Glad you like the darkness of Mid Wales- early days yet but we are trying to get the Cambrian Mountains area some kind of IDA dark skies reserve status......

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Just how dark does it get in Wales? Have you got any SQM readings or ELM?

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A £60 tank if diesel will give the best bang for buck of any astro purchase.

Typed by me, using fumms...

I am sorry I have to disagree it.s just that I can't drive and a full tank of diesel is no good on a pushbike :kiss: Edited by rowan46

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Just how dark does it get in Wales? Have you got any SQM readings or ELM?

No SQM readings (yet) but the Milky Way here is visible down to the horizon.

SummerMilkyWayDylife1.jpg

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What a great post, we can all suffer with apperture fever, wanting larger scopes to see more when really what we should be investing in is traveling to dark sites!

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My wife has given me permission to take the 'scope to Scotland when we go for our first anniversary. She's a good 'un!

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