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SlyReaper

Driving out to the countryside - totally worth it

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So, last night, I packed my telescope into my car for the first time ever, and ventured out in search of a proper dark sky spot.  The forecast had told me that clear skies could be found a couple of junctions up the M4.  After about 50 minutes of driving around B roads, I was rewarded with a small space in front of a farmer's gate, with very low and sparse hedges.  I set up, checked the collimation, adjusted the finder scope, and waited for twilight to fade. 

After about 10:30 PM, the moon was sinking below the horizon, and twilight was finally yielding properly to darkness.  The longer I waited, the more I could see.  Eventually, I could even see the faint band of light the Milky Way galaxy.  I've never seen that in the UK before, and certainly never with this much clarity.  It wasn't just a glowing band, it had actual structure to it.  And there were more stars visible than I think I've ever seen at one time.  Through the telescope itself, the view was incredible.  I've seen things like the Ring Nebula before from my back garden, but this time, it was so much more distinct.  It wasn't just a faint fuzzy smudge, it was an object with structure.  And it was set to an inky black background peppered with thousands of stars.  Globular clusters showed up in the telescope with unprecedented clarity, and I even saw my first ever shooting star just as I was getting ready to pack up.

The only downsides were the occasional passing car (can't really be helped without actually trespassing in someone's field), and my instinctive cave-man paranoia turning every rustling sound in the bushes into a deadly nocturnal predator that was about to eat me.  Oh, and I forgot to bring a chair.  Definitely need to bring a chair next time.  Then, I'll be able to just sit there, glued to my eyepiece, slowly slewing the telescope around to drink in the millions of stars in some small portion of the sky.

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Fantastic... It's like a whole new ball game in a dark sky, abit... Where do I start???!! Well done

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It's not the beasties that you can see and hear that eat you, it's the squadrons of 'Stealth Mosquitoes' that don't even have the decency to make a heavy landing!

Congratulations on getting away from the city.

Yup a chair is a good idea, I keep a folding one permanently on the boot floor.

All the farmers I know, would not object to you setting up on a stubble field now that the harvest is mostly finished. Most of them would however want to have a look through your telescope and share the experience.

A simple ask at a farmhouse can yield results, the usual respect gate protocol, and stay away from fields with livestock.

Get worried when you start looking in Estate Agents windows in local towns. ;)

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Always good to read that someone has seen the benefits of dark skies.

Packing ones scope into the car really isn't a hardship and the rewards are simply astronomical ;)

Enjoy :)

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I remember felling like I had a 8" when I took my old 4" to a dark site. Welldone. I think the bit of panaroia is normal specially if you are not used to the place. If you start to visit the same spot you will find yourself giving names to your new wildlife friends.

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I remember felling like I had a 8" when I took my old 4" to a dark site. Welldone. I think the bit of panaroia is normal specially if you are not used to the place. If you start to visit the same spot you will find yourself giving names to your new wildlife friends.

Last night from home, M110 was faintly visible with my 10" Dob.  From Kelling Heath star party, M110 is obvious with my 70mm Pronto.

Moral - get out of town, it's well worth it.

Regards, Ed.

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Interesting -- I had been thinking recently how to find somewhere dark to view from, it didn't occur to me to just drive around until I find a spot :-). Will have to give it a go!

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This reminds me of the first time i toook my TAL100rs to diggly res (mossies as well)

Looking into the eyepiece was a proper "WOW" moment that will stay with me forever, what a joy, also taking a scope to a dark site is more or less worth a couple of inches in aperture compared to city views

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One tip - you know you're at a really good dark site when you have difficulty identifying constellations due to the amount of stars.  Good read - thanks!

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I agree my back garden faces north all dark skies apart from one light behind tree but only have to travel three miles and so much more stars appear trouble is sold my car could not afford it anymore bummer

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I've never, ever done this but it's at the top of my list.

Living in London I really don't know which direction to drive :(

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I've never, ever done this but it's at the top of my list. Living in London I really don't know which direction to drive :(

Out of it would be best :D

Seriously though. The further you can get away from the capital the better.

North.....not good, the other cities along the M1 make it not a great direction.

South......possibly, but it's a long way from you to reach dark skies.

East.........same as above.

West..........possibly, your best bet but there are some big towns to avoid that direction too.

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I've never, ever done this but it's at the top of my list.

 

Living in London I really don't know which direction to drive :(

M40 to the Chiltern Hills??

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Living in London I really don't know which direction to drive :(

Train station, and hop under the Channel. ;)

Dark skies, cheap wine, good food...........

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