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Squirrely82

Finding a good dark site!

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Hello everyone, I’m new to astronomy and have been slowly learning the last month or so and using my telescope and binoculars in my back garden I’ve managed to see andromeda, Pleiades and one of Jupiter’s moons(not sure which one). I have a beginners telescope (Bresser Skylux 70/700 refractor with a 20mm lens and a 12mm lens and a 2 x Barlow)  I now feel my next step is to go out to a suitable ark site to truly see a difference without any light pollution. I’m from the north east of Scotland and my house is on the very edge of town facing away from the town centre, going by the light pollution site I think the bortle rating is class 4. I’ve been looking at site around that look like class 2 (Going by the light pollution site) even some that look like class 1. The problem I see is that they all seen to be in farmers fields or just empty fields. Obviously  I wouldn’t enter a field with animals or crops! But do I need permission to enter the empty ones?. How does everyone find their dark sites? Also am I likely to see much DSO with my limited scope? 

Thanks for your time

Jon 

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Looking at Google maps it looks like you've got some lovely open moorland to the South of Elgin. I'd be scouting around during the day to look for any sort of layby or old forestry tracks to set up as there's not much light pollution southwards....as long as your vehicle can get there and back...

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52 minutes ago, Beulah said:

Looking at Google maps it looks like you've got some lovely open moorland to the South of Elgin. I'd be scouting around during the day to look for any sort of layby or old forestry tracks to set up as there's not much light pollution southwards....as long as your vehicle can get there and back...

+1 for finding a back lane laybay or just a field entrance. No point lugging gear into a field. 

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First, welcome to SGL.

I agree with the above, unless you can find a ‘dream’ spot with, for example, the farmer’s permission.

However, I’m fairly sure there is a healthy astro club in Elgin (forgotten the name!) and they would be sure to help - and perhaps even have their ‘own’ dark site.

Main things is, have fun.

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5 hours ago, Floater said:

However, I’m fairly sure there is a healthy astro club in Elgin (forgotten the name!) and they would be sure to help - and perhaps even have their ‘own’ dark site.

Here you go 'Sigma, Moray's Astronomy Club'

https://m.facebook.com/SigmaAstro/

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3 minutes ago, Floater said:

Stu, you da man! 👌

Well, Google is da real man!! 🤣🤣

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First for me what I did since I'm from a huge white zone theres a conservation park about 90 min away but that's maybe on the boarder red orange zone which is not a huge improvement. I only did that once a month cause weekdays would be too hard since getting up at 6am to work mon to fri. I also didnt want to bother wife too much at that time so once a month was agreed on.

Take into account almost 90 min each way 2 .5 hrs there that can be 4 to 5 hrs which is alot for same day.if we tried this on weekday i would get to bed by230 maybe wake up 3 hrs later so that's y it wont work.

it only gets dark by 1030 in summer.

The park closes winter about mid Nov I would say till may.

In the summer months on a clear weekend u can see a dozen people with scopes.

Later on once a month i also went camping one weekend a month that took 3hrs by go busses carry all camping gear and scope and scope gear. Wasn't easy cheap and no garrenty of being clear.

U could buy a cheap PC land even half acre in the colour zone u want. Either tent on it or see if the county will let u put a shed 8×12ft insulated etc which will be much better than a tent and be more of a permanent thing where u could stay the night if u choose to.

U would think that even if u bought small empty land u could just build anything but norm u cant there r still rules in most countys.

I saw a half acre for cheap $5000. That was several years ago not it's more in the 10k to 15k but maybe u can look wait till u see one.

Or talk to realtor they may know someone who may have something cheap land.

I rather buy my own land verses going to a field asking for permission, the back and forth all the time. Not to mention if I have your own land u can put an outhouse u can't if your just in a field somewhere.

Joe 

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Posted (edited)
On 08/10/2019 at 03:40, Squirrely82 said:

Thanks everyone for your reply’s, I will see how I get on finding a suitable place

(UPDATE - I see your map now, missed it first time). I live near Aberdeen, there are some good spots around that aren't too far. The Cabrach up on the N side of the Cairngorms is the one if you don't mind a little drive. Dallas looks good too (not Texas, lol) With a portable scope like yours you can easily rock up to a layby and have a look. Try car parks for walkers, national trust sites, scheduled ancient monuments, etc. There are loads of places to park. Under the Scottish outdoor code, you can park up to 30ft off a road, but must move if asked. No one's ever bothered me and I've spent quite a few nights both astronomy or mainly just camping off a B road or single track somewhere. Any questions ping me a message. I study the light pollution map constantly! PS try the walkhighlands map for walking routes, then see where the car parks are at for the start of the route - you'll get dozens of places to park without bother. If you get tired of the 70mm 700, a Skyliner 200 or 250p dobsonian scope or a used 200p on a used EQ5 mount is a big, big step up and not too expensive if you find a deal.

Edited by Ships and Stars

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On 09/10/2019 at 12:27, joe aguiar said:

First for me what I did since I'm from a huge white zone theres a conservation park about 90 min away but that's maybe on the boarder red orange zone which is not a huge improvement. I only did that once a month cause weekdays would be too hard since getting up at 6am to work mon to fri. I also didnt want to bother wife too much at that time so once a month was agreed on.

Take into account almost 90 min each way 2 .5 hrs there that can be 4 to 5 hrs which is alot for same day.if we tried this on weekday i would get to bed by230 maybe wake up 3 hrs later so that's y it wont work.

it only gets dark by 1030 in summer.

The park closes winter about mid Nov I would say till may.

In the summer months on a clear weekend u can see a dozen people with scopes.

Later on once a month i also went camping one weekend a month that took 3hrs by go busses carry all camping gear and scope and scope gear. Wasn't easy cheap and no garrenty of being clear.

U could buy a cheap PC land even half acre in the colour zone u want. Either tent on it or see if the county will let u put a shed 8×12ft insulated etc which will be much better than a tent and be more of a permanent thing where u could stay the night if u choose to.

U would think that even if u bought small empty land u could just build anything but norm u cant there r still rules in most countys.

I saw a half acre for cheap $5000. That was several years ago not it's more in the 10k to 15k but maybe u can look wait till u see one.

Or talk to realtor they may know someone who may have something cheap land.

I rather buy my own land verses going to a field asking for permission, the back and forth all the time. Not to mention if I have your own land u can put an outhouse u can't if your just in a field somewhere.

Joe 

Thanks joe, yeah buying a bit of land would be ideal! But unfortunately barring a lotto win that won’t b happening for an extremely long time, maybe once the kids have all moved out haha

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On 09/10/2019 at 21:29, Ships and Stars said:

(UPDATE - I see your map now, missed it first time). I live near Aberdeen, there are some good spots around that aren't too far. The Cabrach up on the N side of the Cairngorms is the one if you don't mind a little drive. Dallas looks good too (not Texas, lol) With a portable scope like yours you can easily rock up to a layby and have a look. Try car parks for walkers, national trust sites, scheduled ancient monuments, etc. There are loads of places to park. Under the Scottish outdoor code, you can park up to 30ft off a road, but must move if asked. No one's ever bothered me and I've spent quite a few nights both astronomy or mainly just camping off a B road or single track somewhere. Any questions ping me a message. I study the light pollution map constantly! PS try the walkhighlands map for walking routes, then see where the car parks are at for the start of the route - you'll get dozens of places to park without bother. If you get tired of the 70mm 700, a Skyliner 200 or 250p dobsonian scope or a used 200p on a used EQ5 mount is a big, big step up and not too expensive if you find a deal.

Great music advice thanks, Yeah I was thinking Dallas looks good too, I’m going to have a look around there for somewhere, I’ve got the week off work this week so I’ll have time to scout about. I have been looking at telescopes for a future upgrade, but for now this scope will have to do, I am thinking of going along to my local astronomy group(mentioned above). I noticed they have an open night for the public next month to see and look at their scopes and though that would be a good way to see the difference between the different ones and then could decide which scopes I like

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Good stuff! Getting to try some scopes out at a meet is the way to go. When I started looking at scopes the dobsonians looked a bit odd to me. I didn't understand how something with only two mirrors could do the job. Little did I know! I like refractors, but for deep space objects, the dobsons offer the best views for the money. It's simply a Newtonian reflector on a very simple swivel mount smoothly adjustable in altitude and azimuth, so up down left right...

Hope you enjoy the meet and happy observing. Any questions about places in the ne to view from, etc let me know. I work between Inverness down to Dundee, lots of places to park up, no one looks twice. Just act like you own the place! Politely of course, ha. Cheers

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On 12/10/2019 at 11:00, Squirrely82 said:

Thanks joe, yeah buying a bit of land would be ideal! But unfortunately barring a lotto win that won’t b happening for an extremely long time, maybe once the kids have all moved out haha

i dont think it needs to be alot i found 2 half acres lots cheap $5k each

soo many people pay that just on a ap setup even more or have multi scopes (well i do to tho) but having your own small acrea that noone can kick u out of and u can pick it in the darkest spots u can get to is not alot. Iam not talking about $100,000 lot just something small out of the way etc. and if its not near any lake river its sooo much cheaper than waterfront lots.

joejaguar

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Concerning your location, as Ships and Stars has indicated will provide plenty of scope so to speak, within driving distances. Consider how long you are prepared to safely travel for making a return journey when you will become inevitably tired. From experience I no longer will venture to places with large car parks, no matter where they are, as there is always a lingering possibility of unwelcome visitors - which may or may not occur. Therefore I prefer smaller spaces, not of course on the edge of farmers fields, preferring instead smaller parking spaces along quiet back roads near to moorland, sometimes single track roads within valleys that come to a dead end. Day time reconnaissance is helpful, perhaps making a day out of things to go walking, cycling, cafes etc. Also as mentioned perhaps joining a club and going to their dark sky meets could be a good start or indeed solution. Finally consider how comfortable you feel that you are on a solitary venture, for some including myself this is not a concern and can be an asset, so much so that I would like to venture just a little further and wild camp on winter trips. 

Going on dark sky adventures can be infrequent, yet under the right conditions will become unforgettable.

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Ok I think I’ve found an ideal spot and only a few miles away. Tomorrow night weather wise is perfect... but will the moon spoil my dark spot? I know if I look at the moon it will affect my dark adapted eyes, but if I face away from it will it affect what I’m able to view through my scope?

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You might want to give your new observing site a go however, waning Gibbous the sky will become fairly washed out. From mid week next week, rising later and then leading towards a new moon perhaps wait until then. 

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