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Hi all

 

I'm just wondering what people do about going to "dark sites". Did/do you just randomly pack up your gear and drive out or you already knew of a place? And do you go solo where no-one else will be or do you go to places where other astro people go?  There is a local astro club for me but due to work i haven't been able to go yet. But then i thought there must be people who don't go to clubs and just "head out". I'd love to just pack up and drive but I'm not sure how safe it would be with all the expensive gear and if you randomly bumped into some drunken idiots. Maybe I'm over thinking it, any thoughts? 

 

Gary

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Popped it in Observing discussion, seems appropriate.

I think most people know the site they are going to before heading out. It may have been recommended or they may have researched it previously. Visiting during the day can help avoid problems at night.

Always heat to avoid places frequented by 'non astronomers' so you have some peace and quiet, and I would probably recommend going with someone else if at all possible.

Many clubs and groups arrange observing sessions on a formal or informal basis at their chosen dark site.

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Have a look at a'light pollution map' to start with then when you have a right area you want to go i use Google maid and Street view to just ' drive' around till i find somewhere that i like.

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A good introduction, when the weather is favourable, is to arrange to get along to one of the forth coming star-camps, such as at Kielder, Galloway, the Peak District, those held in Wales, many take place twice annually both in Autumn and Spring. Even if the conditions are not too good for stargazing, these events can be worth attending and speaking to people there will provide useful insight. Locating a good dark sky site is worth the effect to seek out, it can be a bit trial and error and acey's post is a knowledgeable guideline. Solo observing is fine and has advantages, whilst sharing with others can equally have benefits. Personally I have never encountered any issues with expensive kit being around, the risk of losing things due to sudden gusts of wind has been the only concern on occasion really.  Might be best to avoid large country park car parks if they are fairly close to Towns, smaller pull-in's on more remote backroads can be very good.

Distance travelled is a consideration, if you plan to return home after a session (or equally if the forecast is wrong), 45min to 1 hour each way is my personal limit, although I could reach darker locations (and no trace of light dome) if prepared to travel for longer. Everyone in this regard is different in terms of travel time. Visit potential locations in day time and gain a feel, sense for a place, perhaps encompassing it as a walking / cycling, family day out etc.  If you do get into this venture (and it can become habit forming), consider investing in a Sky Quality Meter to compare the extent of sky quality darkness upon each visit or at different locations.  

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My Dark (ish) Site is a local rural common about 15 minutes drive from home. I have visited twice, once with my son and once alone. I have encountered no one else on either visit.

I suppose that weighing up the risk of a solo visit depends on your knowledge of the area and likely inhabitants.

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Good questions.

A daytime trip to id two or three sites is well worth the time. Just in case you get there and find that it is also popular with those perusing other nocurnal activities, you can move on....

I did once hide my eyepiece case under a gorse bush when a jeep load of men with guns turned up ...... Fortunately, they were only interested in murdering the local wildlife. They were friendly and considerate towards a surprised stargazer.

Places such as field openings where you can only park one car have worked well for me.

Paul

 

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On 12 March 2017 at 23:39, Gary170782 said:

 I'd love to just pack up and drive but I'm not sure how safe it would be with all the expensive gear and if you randomly bumped into some drunken idiots.

You could try one of the SGL star parties.

The drunken idiots tend to bring their own expensive gear. We normally pitch in the Buzzard field and welcome visitors from all over the site!

Paul

PS. The drinking tends to be directly proportional to the cloud cover...

Edited by Paul73
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