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craigfoot

Where do you observe from?

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I'm lucky for both.....back garden with fantastic views and I live close to a dark sky observing site :smiley:

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Dark sky observing site?? Is that somewhere specific you can take the scope?

I'd thought of just going to a field or something, but it sorta feels odd!

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Dark sky observing site?? Is that somewhere specific you can take the scope?

I'd thought of just going to a field or something, but it sorta feels odd!

Sorry, see what you mean LoL :grin:

I'm lucky coz I live right next to here   http://www.visitengland.com/experience/star-gazing-roman-cawfields-roman-wall

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You are lucky, I have observed at Cawfields on several occasions - commuting from Newcastle and the sky is excellent.

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In my observatory in my backyard.

I am fortunate to have reasonably dark skies (but there is some LP to the south).

One very crispy night I could see magnitude 6 stars at the zenith (near antares). 

Now picture the milky way at the zenith, with all the dark nebulas plainly visible. 

Yeah, feels good.

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Garden - Bortle 2.5 - yes I know how lucky I am but there is a downside - nearest Marks and Sparks, B&Q, Next etc are all 2.5 hours drive - I should be more specific - my WIFE thinks thats a problem !!!!

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With a 10 minute walk I head out up on to the hills in the peak district! 360° views! And on a very clear night is amazing! only downfall is you can see the heavy orange light pollution on the NW/W horizon from the bright lights of manchester!! (Even tho im 3040 miles away from there!! When i dont trust the weather, I usually stay in the garden where there is a few street lights. But still good viewing conditions with your back towards the street light! Lol

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Back garden which isn't to bad but by 1am or so the street light goes out anyway, so early viewing is fine but late viewing is much better.

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I dont have a garden as such, just a bit of gravel area at front of house, this is fine for Luna and Solar, if i want to do any thing else i will travel about 3 miles to a little spot that is a lot better

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At present, I'm strictly a back garden viewer, dodging next door's security light. However, being in suburbia, I have mixed conditions - to the west, I have quite severe light pollution; to the north, the skies are quite clear, but obstructed by the houses behind: the east isn't too bad, and the south is completely obscured by my house (If I go to the end of the garden, I set several security lights off......)

Despite this, I get some lovely planetary views if they're high enough up, and I get reasonable views of clusters.....

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So far (only started astronomy at the beginning of this year) only from my back garden. I am on the edge of a city and the garden faces south (toward the city and its light pollution) with very large trees around us. However the sky can be quite dark and I have managed to spot a couple of globular clusters.I have some good dark sky sites within thirty minutes drive, but have not used them yet.

Andrew

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These dark sky sites people refer to, are they specific areas setup for astronomy, or just a field/car park/lay by etc you have located to use?

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Lol. . so next question. . bortle?? I assume a measurement of darkness?

A scale invented by John Bortle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bortle_scale

I observe at one of the darkest places in England (Northumberland), and my Bortle rating for the site would be 4 or 5 (rural-suburban), i.e. there are visible light domes, clouds are visible against the sky, I can't see M33 with the naked eye. People who've observed at the observatory at  La Palma tell me that clouds are visible overhead there too, so that place might manage 3 on the Bortle Scale.

A better way to assess sky quality is with an SQ meter (my zenith readings are typically 21.3-21.7) or, a little less accurately, using the iPhone Dark Sky Meter app http://www.darkskymeter.com/ (I haven't used the app but I'm told its readings have about an 80% correlation with SQ readings).

A "dark site" is any place that's dark. I would say that, as a minimum, "dark" means dark enough for the Milky Way to be capable of being seen. Proper darkness is quite a bit darker than that. There are some areas designated "dark sky places" by the IDA (International Dark Sky Association).

http://www.darksky.org/international-dark-sky-places/about-ids-places

These need to have lighting controls in addition to skies measured as being sufficiently dark. There is currently one IDA-designated "dark sky park" in England (Northumberland IDSP) and one in Scotland (Galloway Forest). There are two IDA "dark sky reserves": Brecon Beacons and Exmoor. The IDA has a three-tier scale (Gold/Silver/Bronze) with the minimum for Bronze being a Sky Quality Meter reading of 20 (which I personally wouldn't really call "dark" - it's a naked-eye limit of about 5.5, at which the Milky Way would be barely visible).

Satellite imagery shows that the last outposts of real darkness in UK are the Scottish Highlands, Scottish Borders/Northumberland region, a little bit of the Lake District, a little bit of Wales. None of those places is free of light pollution, but it's the lowest you'll find in UK.

Edited by acey
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From my back garden its not to bad you can see the Milky Way after your eyes have got used to the dark, takes about 2/3mins and we only have one house on one side of us and fields on the other 2 sides.  

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We moved to Warburton 18 months ago 5 miles from Altrincham which was blighted with LP not so bad here as it's semi rural.

I took one look at the garden which backed onto acres of fields with good views all round.Without even looking in the house i said to the misses will have it.

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I got quite lucky. A local cricket club about 30mins drive from me in the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside were kind enough to give me permission to use their ground. Lovey dark site and I don't have to worry about lugging my gear from where I park as I can park and set up in one corner of the ground and see almost all round the sky. If you have a local village cricket ground not too far from you, it might be worth asking them. As long as you respect the square in the middle and don't leave rubbish behind I doubt they'd mind too much.

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Unfortunately, I'm not yet old enough to drive to a decent dark sky site (Just 1 more year! :D), so I'm stuck with my garden

David

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I view mainly from my back garden and not really through choice.  Trouble is my wife is a nurse so works a fair few nights so that is when I can get my viewing in but we have a two year so I have to stay at home.

The garden is fair from ideal - very built up area so restricted views on all compass points but particular NE to NW and the generally light pollution of a large city as well as very local light pollution caused by my neighbour who purposefully leaves lights on if he knows I am out viewing.

That said I have seen some awe inspiring sights and I am rapidly becoming a bit of an astro-holic.

Roll on winter though when I will be able to help put the little one to bed, then go out and get a couple of hours viewing somewhere dark and then get home in time to share a decent bottle of wine with my wife.

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If you are prepared to travel to a dark site, then it is perhaps a good policy to have options. At least in terms of the UK , weather patterns may vary quite a bit between one locality and another. Therefore I am prepared to travel to  known good dark sites for an observing session that, based upon where I live, are due West, North,  North west and slightly South west. Usually (and anticipating the return journey) this will take between 40 minutes to one hour to reach. There is a location I aim to use that will take more than an hour travel time, but for this I aim to (wild) camp overnight. Another consideration is wind, one of my dark sites has great horizon vistas but is open and exposed to wind. Watching and determining where to go based upon weather accounts and prediction's, can become a little complex and obsessive. 

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Don't know how many Bortles I've got but on a good night the Milky Way is stunning and Andromeda galaxy is clearly visible naked eye. Now I have succesfully screened out an annoying streetlight, I consider myself very lucky to have such good skies, and don't have to travel further than my back garden.

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I live in hull, so lots of light pollution. . but had some good nights at my parents caravan at castle Howard which has good skys

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I live in Lewisham SE London, you can't be in a more polluted place! Although from my doorstep I can get reasonable planetary views. looking at M13 is just a blurry faint blob but I was so excited when I first saw it though my 90mm Mak two years ago. I have a friend in Winchealsea near to Hastings where the Milky-way is visible. It takes an hour and a half to drive so I tend to go whenever the moon is below the horizon or when it's a new moon. For real dark sky stuff  I have been to Exmoor, it's seriously dark there. M51 is visible through binoculars no problem. The west coast of Scotland and Isle of Skye are excellent places too if you can dodge in between the raging weather. 

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I have 3 main sites:

For quick bino obsing I walk 10 minutes across the railway out into the fields towards the international Airport. Lots of LP, but good to have withing walking distance, but I have picked out good number of bright Messiers there.

For quicker telescope sessions I drive about 15 minutes outside town to a golf course. Unfortunately they down plow the parking lot during winter but its good for spring/autumn.

For allnighters the club has a dark site observatory. 45 minute drive but moderately dark.

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