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Views over north Exmoor


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Hi all.,  living 1000ft above sea level on Exmoor I can have great night sky views.. But... Which is the most interesting areas of the night sky. 

We have a large garden and paddocks but from each location there can be trees or the house in the field of view. . 

So my question is... Which is the best quadrants to look towards? 

Thanks. 

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Hi Jim, you have a nice location for star gazing by the sound of it. I would suggest that if possible try to find a position that enables you see the stars rise in east and set in the west, although seeing the actual horizon would be nice it really doesn’t matter.  If you imagine the path the sun takes across the sky that is what I am talking about, it means that you will be able to see most things, although to see all you need uninterrupted views.
One last thing, unless you are going to purchase a large, cumbersome ‘scope, or have an observatory, medium ‘scopes are fairly easy to move from one location to another, but if you intend to go into astrophotography care will be needed regarding location, and of course power sources, although power packs can get around that.

Good luck!

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Getting a Skywatcher Evostar 150 + NEQ6 mount this week hopefully.... Been waiting since July for stocks to arrive in UK!! 

So.. Scope and mount a bit heavy so initially it'll be lugged to different location each clear night  to see what's around (following your suggestions).

Ultimately I'd like to build an observatory (shed!!)  in the most suitable location but not too far from the house.  Power no problem, I've made my own lithium power bank,  again,  ultimately I can run power to the shed when position decided. 

Thanks for your suggestions

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Jim, i've done all-sky brightness checks of various places on Exmoor, the last one I did was after the first lockdown but before this current one (so reasonably current). As a general rule of thumb for Exmoor the darkest views right down to the horizon are to be had to looking to the South and West (this is assuming you don't have any localised light pollution problems near you within the park). Everywhere else don't expect any miracles below about 15degrees altitude, especially from the North West round to the East where there is a pretty much solid and continuous light curtain of white and yellow light (from various origins). For Exmoor's case specifically it is such a small and light-vulnerable national park that zenithal sky brightness (often quoted on light pollution websites and dark-sky associations) is not representative of what you see as a visitor/resident. Let me know if you need any more info, I probably can give you a more definitive answer if you want to pm me your location. Kind Regards.

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Hi Jim 

Sounds like you have an enviable location there!   

Forgive me if this is too basic but thought I would share my experience of coming back to astronomy as an adult, something I'd dabbled in as a kid.

As has been said above the constellations will rise in the east and track a curving westward path across the night - so the short answer to your question on which direction is most interesting is "that depends what time and season it is".

I've focussed on recognising the constellation patterns starting from the obvious ones I already knew like the Plough, Orion, the W/M sign of Cassiopeia, the V of Taurus and the Pii sign of Perseus in the winter and the cross of Cygnus in the summer & being able to orientate them at different seasons and times of the night. 

Building outward from that, the easy-to-spot big patterns or asterisms that get talked about (i.e. obvious big shapes that aren't themselves constellations) are really useful for extending that "mental map" to other constellations and getting to know larger areas of sky. I've found the Summer triangle (which includes the constellations Lyra, Aquila and Cygnus) and the "Winter Hexagon" or "Winter-G" that links the brightest stars in Orion, Taurus, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Gemini & Auriga to be really helpful.  Other stuff can then be related back to what you know gradually building a kind of imaginary planetarium...

An app like Sky Safari is helpful to work out what's going to be rising in a particular direction at a particular time and then you can look up what's interesting to look at in that constellation - as a beginner I've found it helpful and least discouraging to start with the brightest most obvious things in a particular constellation and then look for progressively fainter or harder to spot objects. This means you make less big moves with the telescope and spreads out the success & disappointment more evenly :)

Even without an app, as the interest (obsession) has taken hold I've found myself doing a quick check of constellation positions throughout the month - checking out what's where when I take the dog out for 10 minutes or have a quick look out the window if I get up in the night to see what's about at the unsociable hours!

As for direction I read one thing that blew my mind a bit which is that when we look South we are looking toward the centre of our own galaxy. This means that particularly in the summer the densest star-fields of the Milky Way will lie in that direction.  

Looks like we've some clear skies coming this weekend - enjoy!

 

Edited by SuburbanMak
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