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surprise that made my jaw drop


Stargazer_00
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I had one of those wow moments tonight..

I've been out since 8ish setting up and observing as twilight bade farewell and the night came. I've been playing with my new 14" observing here and there and generally having a wonderful evening. It was a near perfect night. The sky was beautiful. I live in the centre of a town and am used to light pollution but tonight the zenith appears like a black void. The only taint on the sky tonight was a long thin band of mist or high cloud running through the summer cross along the top of Pegasus and Andromeda and on to Cassiopeia. I was viewing around this area though and it didn't seem to be having any effect at the eyepiece. I kept on viewing around other parts hoping it'd clear but it resolutely stayed in place. In fact the exact same place in relation to the stars even though time had passed...

Then the penny dropped. It's only the milky way I'm looking at! The realisation that I was actually seeing this from my back garden blew me away. I never thought I'd ever see this from here! I immediately packed everything away and go a deck chair out and laid down on it and spent the next hour staring up with nothing but naked eyes. Its been the most fun I've had for a long time. I made out a lot of detail using averted vision. Real shape, dust lanes perhaps. I was amazed in truth. I wonder how many times its been staring me in the face and I dismissed it as high cloud. Never again. Truly awe inspiring. I also spotted around 8 shooting stars as a bonus for observing in this way. I'd recommend it to anyone as a break from the norm. Just sot back with nothing but your eyes. Laying down. And drink it all in.amazing.

Edited by Stargazer_00
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I've often mistaken the Milky Way for high cloud, you just don't expect to see it from a light polluted area.

And yes, it's great to step back from the scope from time to time and see the whole picture, like our ancestors did.

And that whole region around Cassiopeia is just great, I never tire of looking at it.

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Im actually layed down in the garden. On the paving slabs, which is actually very comfortable (lounger is in the loft and that would annoy the family lol). Its really beautiful just looking up.

I can pick out the Milky Way too but not as much as you could i think. Got the camera shooting some star trials too (hopefully lol)

Matt.

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just got back from austria on holiday. It was a bit damp so after a couple of hours I would have to put the scope away and then just sat in my camp chair drinking beer and watching the milky way with mk1's there's a lot worse things to do than drink in a view like that.

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Lovely, Graham and hope you get more nights like this :smiley: When viewing from the dark-lands in Spain I go alone but when away in France this summer, on one of the evenings out in the darkness my girlfriend made quite an astute remark. "You don't need a telescope with skies like these." She said, and I couldn't disagree. Under the dark dome there was sufficient beauty to take in for a good long while. With dark skies a telescope highlights features which the naked eye simply cannot capture, but, then, you're missing out on a whole load of other stuff that the telescope simply cannot capture. A perfect world would have both.

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The Milky Way is always a fantastic thing to see with the naked eye. I'm fortunate enough to be able to see it on most moonless nights here, but it still draws me in.

You're a fortunate fellow, James. I get a lot of clear skies, night after night of them but stuck here in the city during the working-week I'm lucky to catch 15 or 20 of the brightest stars naked eye.

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I've been going down to Mid Wales for nearly 20 years on our weekends and the skies there are quite stunning but until I took up astronomy some 2 years ago now I had never noticed it. How could I not have seen it before? - now I can see it from my back garden though unlke our weekend destination it takes a few more minutes for my eyes to get dark adapted. I wonder how many other people in the UK are looking but not seeing - I know I was one of them for a long time.

Great report by the way :grin:

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The Milky Way is always a fantastic thing to see with the naked eye. I'm fortunate enough to be able to see it on most moonless nights here, but it still draws me in.

James

Similar views here , the trouble is that you can start taking it for granted......

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Thanks guys :)

I find that looking up doesn't have the same effect as laying down when viewing it.

When laying down and staring into the milky way you can start to convince yourself your aren't laying down so much as you are stuck to the face of a sphere standing up. You can get a strange sense of vertigo as if you can convince your brain you are actually upright and the direction you are looking is forwards not upwards and you are actually stuck, upright, on the face of an immense wall which curves away beneath your feet. Years of biology telling your brain that if you are actually upright then gravity will pull you down towards your feet, I had a sudden sense as if I was going to fall and yet I didn't. I cupped my hands around my eyes to cut out the earthly objects in my periphial vision (fences, trees, rooftops) and it felt for a moment as if I was in space itself looking into the galaxy we call home.

It's was a really odd experience and one I often feel when laying down and look up. It isn't the first time I've seen the Milky Way, I'd seen it in 2003 in Canada in the darkest skies possible and had done the same thing laying down and can recall then that I felt the same feeling. It is such a wonderful thing to see and I wish I lived somewhere where it looked like how we see it in pictures. Going to deepest, darkest Norfolk in 3 weeks (a few miles from Kelling Heath actually) and hope to see this there. I'm only taking a 6" scope with me and I thought that might not be enough but after seeing what I saw last night with nothing but my eyes I'm sure it'll be fine now. Only the moon can spoil it and I suspect it will.

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Then the penny dropped. It's only the milky way I'm looking at!

Bizarrely, I had exactly the same experience last night.

I seldom see the Milky Way from our mildly light polluted garden, but conditions last night were just perfect and caught me out. At the time I was trying to view the Nova in Delphinus with naked eye (no chance) and, cursing the cloud, realised it was the Milky Way I was looking at.

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