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t0ny

The Milky Way in the UK?

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I could not find level worse than beginner so sorry for this silly question, but in the office today we were wondering why we can't see the Milky Way (the dusty cloudy view) in Norfolk (in our experience). I know a long exposure will show more, but I'm talking naked eye like they see in Africa, Hawaii or like this shot from America:

Milky_Way_Cherry_Springs.JPG

Is it simply that our skies here are not dark enough?

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Light pollution is the simple answer. Though from some dark sites in the UK it is definitely visible. Brecon Beacons for example.

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Thank you, did seem obvious but I wanted to know for definite!

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I see it quite easily from here when the sky is properly dark, even in summer. It's easily drowned out by the Moon though, so the window of opportunity isn't huge each month. In good conditions it's possible to make out some of the dust lanes through Cygnus and down towards Sagittarius.

James

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You definitely need to get a long way out of town, but on a transparent, moonless night it is very visible in the UK. I used to go potholing when I was a bit younger (ok a lot younger), so often found myself up on top of the Yorkshire Dales in the middle of a clear winter's night away from the worst of the light pollution, and the views were simply stunning.

Mind you the best view I ever had was driving round the coast from Melbourne to Adelaide when we stopped in the middle of nowhere and I got to see the LMC and SMC, which is something else. Even there there was a tiny dome of light pollution on the northern horizon from Adelaide, which was probably 200 miles away.

You don't have to travel to the other side of the world, or even up north. There are some pretty good dark skies in your part of the world , maybe head up to the North Norfolk coast one clear night and you'll discover what you have been missing.

I think it is incredibly sad that so many people have never seen it properly and wonder if that is normal!

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As James mentioned the Milky Way looks amazing at the end of summer and is best around Sagittarius and Cygnus areas, its my favourite thing to see, it costs nothing and you dont even need a telescope! :)

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If you live in Norfolk there are areas you can see it such as Kelling Heath near Holt where they have the bianual starparties, I have seen it there, it looks like a long cloud. There are other dark areas in Norfolk, so get yourself a dark sky map or look on the internet. Here's a dark sky map. All the dark blue and grey areas you should be able to see it. wp975d0d08.jpg

Edited by carastro

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It's so stunning when seen from a dark site, especially through Cygnus. The tears and tortuous shapes are amazing. We're lucky to be on the edge of town, best from here was right across the sky,

Nick.

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I think it is incredibly sad that so many people have never seen it properly and wonder if that is normal!

In this country I think it's a certainty. I'd guess that an incredibly small percentage of the population have ever had the opportunity and taken the time to have a good look at the Milky Way.

James

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Very sad state of affairs indeed re viewing the Milky Way, as a child of the 60's i could very easily look up from my backyard and view a veritable forest of stars as well as the Milky Way. Always lived in my home town and sad to say these days the chances are slim to remote if neigh on impossible because of light pollution :embarassed:. Would love to try get to a proper dark site this year and view the heavens as i did as a child.

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I can see it very well when we get onto the fells in the Lakes & also from my parents farm in Yorkshire.

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I can definitely see the Milky Way from Newmarket, indeed even with street lights nearby and the A11 I can still make out the lighter coloured cloud overhead.

You have to let your eyes adjust to the darkness for th best views, it's best to look when the moon isn't visible as that light tends to make the Milky Way invisible.

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I think a lot of people could see the milky way, even from a moderate LP site, if they look at the right time of year, round new moon, shield local street lights, and get properly dark adapted.

I have seen the milky way from the suburbs of Cheltenham on many occasions.

Callum

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I grew up (to the extent that I've grown up at all!) in Cheltenham and I used to see the mw overhead from my back garden only 10 minutes' walk from the town centre. That's all changed now, the light pollution there is even worse than in SE London.

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I live in a medium-sized town in Norfolk and can see the Milky Way most clear nights, despite local light pollution, particularly if humidity is low.

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According to the map, I am in a pale blue bit just to the East of London (in Kent between the Medway blob and the slightly darker Thames estuary).

On good nights I can see large parts of the milky way. The best i have managed is to just make out the Cygnus rift.

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A few years ago we were camping at Rosedale abbey in north Yorkshire, we came out if the White horse inn, no street lights for miles, we had to wait for our eyes to adjust to the dark, but the sky was absolutely incredible l just sat outside for ages in awe. If only It was like that everywhere.

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A few years ago we were camping at Rosedale abbey in north Yorkshire, we came out if the White horse inn, no street lights for miles, we had to wait for our eyes to adjust to the dark, but the sky was absolutely incredible l just sat outside for ages in awe. If only It was like that everywhere.

I'm pretty close to the North Yorks Moors & the skies there are amazing, just a shame those white fluffy pains in the backside love the area just as much :mad:
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Only time I got to see it properly was in the middle of essex on a very clear club observing night about 18yrs ago. When I got out the car I was annoyed to see that there was a band of cloud across the sky..... no... that's the milky way!

Light pollution has uses, you can read newspapers at night. I have to take my son for a push every evening to get him to sleep..... it is amazing how few people there are out and about, the cost vs benefit for street lighting must be rubbish. Better to buy everyone in the country cities a reflective jacket and a rechargable LED flashlight! Probably save us millions/billions and help with getting children to study/take and interest in science more, which would help the economy more. Hey I even know of a village near my parents which still has no streetlights in.... the locals have fought to keep it that way!

PEterW

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The darkest sky I have experienced was from the little coastal village of Salthouse, North Norfolk, simply stunning.

Cheers,

Steve

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Definitely do able in quite a few places in the UK. My best views have been on the Purbeck Peninsula in Dorset. The Lake District is good out of town, and as already mentioned, Dartmoor is great.

Stu

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I have to remember not to get complacent with the view I get of the Milky Way :)

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