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markclaire50

Dark Sky- seeing for the first time

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This thread is for stories you have about seeing something under dark skies that you were never able to see under more light polluted skies, maybe your back yard or from anywhere with light pollution. 

The story can be absolutely anything, as long as it relates to using the same scope or binoculars. So, I guess we're talking portable scopes here. 

I'd love to know what a difference going to a dark sky can really make? 

I look forward to your stories! 

Mark

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A few years ago my friend Mark (at Beaufort) and I were at the SGL star party and had taken along 6 inch scopes. Marks was a Skywatcher 150mm F/5 and mine was an Intes 150 F/5.9 mak-newtonian.

On one night we had very good, dark, skies and Mark and I had a memorable evening touring the sky seeking out galaxies. We saw many and under the dark skies managed to get some really quite faint ones.

When I got back home to my moderately light polluted (but not too bad really) back garden skies, I found my 10 inch newtonian was not really replicating the views that the 6 inch scopes had delivered at the star party. I reckon the dark sky at the star party had enabled my 6 inch scope to perform as well on the deep sky as a scope double the aperture would have done at home.

And my home skies are not really that bad.

At my 1st SGL star party I recall observing Messier 51 (the Whirlpool galaxy) with a stock Skywatcher 12 inch dobsonian and seeing a clear spiral sturcture to the galaxy without needing averted vision. The 12 inch dobsonian that I have now (Orion Optics) is probably a touch better optically than the Skywatcher one was but I can't quite replicate that view of M51 from my back yard. I get close occasionally but the clarity of the spiral structure under dark skies was striking.

 

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From my home I can sometimes just make out the band of the milky way just with naked eyes. The darkest site I've ever been to was a holiday cottage in Cornwall and from there the milky way was impossible to miss and I could see dust lane structures.

Another feature of super dark skies is that navigating around is harder (at least for me) as there are so many more stars than I am used to seeing.

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Andromeda - unbelievably huge and obviously elongated naked eye in Ballinskelligs, Kerry.  A real 'wow' for me! :)  Spotting Messiers naked eye down there is just really good fun - the Milky Way in late August is mesmerising;)

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