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Hi,

Is there a list of observing sites anywhere that can be used to find good, safe areas?

I live in Northants and have looked at different possible viewing areas as I drive around, but most options seem to be laybys. I personally would feel unsafe parking in a layby at the early hours, so was wondering where people go? Do you speak to local farmers to see if they mind you going on their land, or are you lucky enough to have decent views from your garden? 

I'd be interested to know what people do to to get a good spot.

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Agree, laybys will just give you a constant issue of passing traffic, curious folk, bored police or people needing to take a comfort break. 

Surprisingly, where I am here , in all the space of N.Yorks,  it still takes a bit of searching to find a really good site. 

I tend to figure a minimum radius that I can travel to in a reasonable time, get set up and do something useful without the weather or 'work' the next day becoming major factors.

I look at  Google maps/streetview and try to find 'dead-end' tracks with a metalled surface, somewhere high up  and with enough space that you can set up and not block access.   Reservoirs and viewpoints tend to be good sites, the theory being, nobody will be using them at night, but......there's always somebody!!

No easy solution.  Take advantage of a cloudy night and drive around.  Look at the light pollution and the flatness of the horizon.

Better than watching the soaps!!

Good luck.

 

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9 minutes ago, Craney said:

Surprisingly, where I am here , in all the space of N.Yorks,  it still takes a bit of searching to find a really good site. 

Im not too far from Harrogate and, like you, was surprised how hard it is to find a good spot.  Sutton Bank is my nearest dark site, though you can find yourself stranded atop it on a sub zero night before the gritters have been out. 😱

John

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19 minutes ago, westmarch said:

....stranded atop it on a sub zero night before the gritters have been out. 😱

Yes, going rural in Winter has it's own issues.

Still,  a Planetwave CDK20 would make a fine toboggan down the 1 in 4 .....  

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Although I live in a rural area with Bortle 4 skies, my view is very limited from my back garden due to trees and buildings. 

I've had similar problems recently trying to find a North spot for Neowise searching. I'm fortunate to be on top of the south coast by the sea, where the beach and sea offer great horizon views  - but of course where you are, being slap bang in the middle of the country, this isn't much help. 

In the end - for a much needed north view - I found an empty country pub car park next to a hidden public right of way walking route across open country fields - and bumped in to an astrophotograoher doing the exact same thing, who found the spot a few months before. 

Searching for walking routes in your area may yield some finds that could be suitable - and hopefully not much of a walk from parking the car. 

Edited by dd999
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Thanks for all the replies.

I've looked into Astronomy clubs and there are a couple that operate close to me, however Covid has stopped them operating meets for the time being.

The Go Stargazing website looks pretty barren in the Northants area, with Bedford being the closest to me and is a private site.

I've scoured Google maps (and still doing so) with a few options, but still not 100% sure I'd be confident setting up in those places.

There is actually a farm within walking distance to my house (I live in a village outside Northampton), so may consider approaching him.  

With all this cloud around, I suspect I'll have plenty of time to find somewhere until the next clear sky.

If anyone else has any suggestions, please let me know :)

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I have some of the issues outlined above. I live on the edge of a small market town in Shropshire. I have Bortle 4 skies here and local street lights go out at 11.30pm and what's left is mostly old-fashioned low pressure sodium. But... I'm in a slight dip which obstructs SW - NW. N overhead to S is OK, E is obstructed by house. There is a little car park at the top of my road for access to canal tow path and country park, but some of the street lights there stay on all night. For the comet I went to a hill which I thought would work - but that was a 15 mile drive away, but was very easy parking. Need to do some serious looking around for something nearer and accessible. 

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The Go Stargazing site is pretty good as is contacting your local club.

I live near a reservoir that is run by the local water authority and has a large expanse of space and car park. Access is normally restricted at night to fishing permit holders. I e-mailed them and asked permission to use the site at night with my small camper for the purpose of astronomy. They replied a resounding yes that would be fine and could I send a couple of pics of me and kit for their web site (which I haven't done yet)  I think the moral is identify somewhere and seek permission.

Steve

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On 16/07/2020 at 10:38, Steve Clay said:

I live near a reservoir

Is that Stithians by any chance? I attempted to watch the 1999 eclipse there, but it was cloudy! I do recall it being an amazing dark sky the night before though.

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1 hour ago, Nigeyboy said:

Is that Stithians by any chance? I attempted to watch the 1999 eclipse there, but it was cloudy! I do recall it being an amazing dark sky the night before though.

Not far from there its actually Argal reservoir about 6 mile from stithians. We tried to watch the eclipse from the beach.

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1 hour ago, Scoobs767 said:

Does anyone go to large supermarket car parks, or service station car parks to observe?  Not sure if the supermarket's would allow you to park there out of hours?

ours are covered in floodloghts

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5 minutes ago, Steve Clay said:

Does anyone go to large supermarket car parks, or service station car parks to observe?  Not sure if the supermarket's would allow you to park there out of hours?

And ours are full of boy racers doing doughnuts . . . . . 

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Hi! I run the gostargazing.co.uk website and am always open to suggestions as to safe places to stargaze.  If you have any please do get in touch, I'd love to fill in empty areas on the location map! neill@gostargazing.co.uk

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2 hours ago, Neill said:

Hi! I run the gostargazing.co.uk website and am always open to suggestions as to safe places to stargaze.  If you have any please do get in touch, I'd love to fill in empty areas on the location map! neill@gostargazing.co.uk

Moderators, This offer from Neil deserves to be highlighted rather than buried in a thread.

John

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It can seem like an endless mission looking for places, you need to be away from lights, good access, parking, and preferably non public for reasons of safety. I approached a local charity who have some land behind lock up gates within a short drive and away from lights, they were delighted to have us on board as long as we had PLI, which we all chip in for. Closed at moment though due Covid but hopefully open soon. In the process now of securing a small lock up car park as well post Covid. We do also have an agreement to use a cricket ground a little bit out in the sticks,  and a football club car park as well. Fishing clubs may be able to help, and if you know anyone with horses,  stable yards can be good. The owners often like the idea that someone is there at night, we used one for a while until the owner moved, but she was happy to get a late night text informing her the nags were happy! Public places present their own problems as often it is anti social behaviour getting in the way, you need to feel safe with a few £ks of kit with you.

Study the maps, google and OS 25k and once you identify places send a polite letter of request to the owners, this has worked well for us.

If you need an example template PM me.

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On 18/07/2020 at 10:14, JG777 said:

It can seem like an endless mission looking for places, you need to be away from lights, good access, parking, and preferably non public for reasons of safety. I approached a local charity who have some land behind lock up gates within a short drive and away from lights, they were delighted to have us on board as long as we had PLI, which we all chip in for. Closed at moment though due Covid but hopefully open soon. In the process now of securing a small lock up car park as well post Covid. We do also have an agreement to use a cricket ground a little bit out in the sticks,  and a football club car park as well. Fishing clubs may be able to help, and if you know anyone with horses,  stable yards can be good. The owners often like the idea that someone is there at night, we used one for a while until the owner moved, but she was happy to get a late night text informing her the nags were happy! Public places present their own problems as often it is anti social behaviour getting in the way, you need to feel safe with a few £ks of kit with you.

Study the maps, google and OS 25k and once you identify places send a polite letter of request to the owners, this has worked well for us.

If you need an example template PM me.

Some good points here, shame you're not closer to me 😃

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