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slickfonzy

West country dark sites

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I'm currently staying for a couple of nights in Taunton and then on to Oakhampton for a week - can anyone local to the area recommended some good dark sites, perhaps for some Perseid watching? 

Thanks in advance! 

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Quantocks or Blackdown Hills, both just outside Taunton - though anything away form the main town there is pretty good.  If you don't mind the drive of course, there's always Exmoor not far away  - a dark sky park I believe? 

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Can't help with Taunton sites but I'm familiar with the Okehampton area.

I use a site near Bellever on Dartmoor (not far from Okehampton) https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/50°34'58.5"N+3°53'02.3"W/@50.5830908,-3.8886392,16.25z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d50.58291!4d-3.88396 . I'm heading up there tonight to see the Perseids, actually. It's always quiet, dark, t's relatively dry underfoot, there's plenty of space to park off the road and there are good horizon's all around. It is very exposed in the wind, but along that road are plenty of other spots with hedges or dry stone wall which will give shelter.

I would avoid the car parks on the main roads which cross the moor. Although many are dark I've found that they are not as quiet overnight as you'd expect.

Another option is to head up past Okehampton army camp and head for the firing range which is open to the public when no live firing is on. There are darker skies here but i wouldn't reccommend it as you are likely to attract attention from the MOD or squaddies who are still likely to be exercising here even if there are no live firing exercises planned. Years ago (early 90's) I was walking up here in the dark (hill walking, not stargazing) and 'found' a helicopter which in my naivety I thought had been just been parked in the middle of Dartmoor. I decided I'd like to get inside and sit in the pilots seat and strode right up to and tried to open a door! Needless to say the helicopter had not been abandoned and was being guarded by a number of squaddies who were less than impressed by my attempts to gain entry. They were even less impressed to hear my excuses in my Belfast accent. 

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Thank you both for the info, that's great.

Thanks joncrawf for the link, we'll definitely check out that road. I had my suspicions about the car parks, used for other night time activities I suspect. Your story of the helicopter incident did make me chuckle! 

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I live in The Blackdown Hills and it's pretty dark here.  Just a few miles south of Taunton.  Exmoor is good sized area of National dark Park very dark there but further from Taunton.

Blackdown Hills just inside Devon from Somerset.  All sky image taken a few minutes ago.  The glow to the SW is the setting moon.

ASI178MM in AMCao on mast 06.JPG

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should have stayed at home! 

I left home at 9:15pm under clear skies, arrived at my dark site near Bellever where I sat looking up at skies that were at best 50% clear and more usually 25%. Packed up and went home at 11:30pm where the skies were still clear.

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Thanks, Gina, looks a lovely sky, unfortunately my experience was much the same as yours last night joncrawf. Hoping for some clear sky tonight, looks OK at the moment, but the forecast isn't good.

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