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Good afternoon. I'm going to try to brave the cold and sleep deprivation (thanks to the baby) tonight. What's the best time to go out once fully dark? Seems to get  black here around 1900hrs at the moment 

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Just now, Nidgey86 said:

Good afternoon. I'm going to try to brave the cold and sleep deprivation (thanks to the baby) tonight. What's the best time to go out once fully dark? Seems to get  black here around 1900hrs at the moment 

I'd go out a bit earlier so your able to get your equipment set up and cooled down. Forvthe past couple of nights I've been setting up around 17:15 down here in Cornwall and letting my skymax 127 cool down whilst I level my mount and get everything where I want it to be so I'm not faffing about as I did on my first night haha. 

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Yes, the larger your scope, the longer it will take to cool (and longer for catadioptrics).

I usually try to set up and level while there's still some light, then I can align the goto as soon as the brightest stars are visible, then wait until it's dark enough (and if you're really keen, you can always pick objects like double stars off your schedule first, before it's fully dark).

On Thursday I made the mistake of waiting until later, missed a couple of hours of clear skies and was forced in by clouds quite early.

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I always like to set up while there is still a bit of sun poking over the horizon. Many times i have made mistakes, tripped over something etc, trying to set up in the dark is risky.

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It depends what you want to see and if you have clear access to  any part of the horizon. Moon will look nice before it even gets dark. Orion will look nice around ~9pm as south facing. Pleiades should be ok from 7 onwards. Worth look at Stellarium or other ups to tell you what's visible at the time you want to observe (planeteshphere is also handy). Enjoy your session tonight.

 

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As above it depends on various things ... are you imaging , or just placing a scope on an Alt Az for viewing ? If you are using an EQ mount you need to polar align but also level the mount and balance everything . In short , if the weather is kind enough , give yourself as much time as possible . If you cant see polaris use a compass to point the mount true north . All these things will save time later and , of course the scope will need "cooling ".

 

 

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If it looks like it might be clear I usually get my dob out early evening and then it is ready whenever I am ready to go out. The best time to go out could be determined by when something you want to look at is in a certain direction that has good sight lines from your location or perhaps even late night / early morning when street lights start being turned off. However, the best time to go out is whenever it is clear. If you wait for later there is always the risk that it clouds over. 

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Then you have the most portable set up of all .. get out at every moment . Do you mount the binos on a tripod ? And do you have a planned viewing session in mind ? As commented before , look at Stellarium and then you know when your targets will be in view . 

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1 minute ago, Nidgey86 said:

Thanks everyone for your replies. I am only using binoculars(complete beginner) so don't need to set up. Thanks again 

OK, deleted the blah I was mid-typing about 'scope cooling factors !

You have zero set up time, so check a weather site to see if rhere are clouds heading towards (or away from ) you, then have a look before heading out of the door at your favourite app or site which gives a local sky map , and see what will be there to see.

If you are hoping to see faint objects, delay until the Moon is set ..  I expect the baby will oblige with a wake up call  🙂

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Even when using my 20x80 binoculars, I usually allow ten minutes for them to acclimatise plus gets my eyes dark adapted.

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Thanks everyone. I managed to get out at 1930 after waiting for eyes to adjust. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to see and managed to get them all. 

The orion nebula is so far my favourite, I see two bright stars and a smudge around it. Looks preety good in binos so assume would be even better in a scope. 

Also really like looking at vega, it's like a Xmas tree light twinkling away in few colours. 

The pleiades were good too but quite close to the moon. 

I was disappointed with M31 however, I've been looking for it for a while and it was just a large smudge with not much to pick out . Compared to the orion nebula it didn't really compare. Would it have been affected by the bright moon? 

 

Thanks again for all the advice. I had to tap out after half and hour was just too baltic..... A wimp I know!! 

Edited by Nidgey86
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1 hour ago, Nidgey86 said:

I was disappointed with M31 however, I've been looking for it for a while and it was just a large smudge with not much to pick out . Compared to the orion nebula it didn't really compare. Would it have been affected by the bright moon? 

M31 will always be a large smudge without much detail (still, an incredibly distant smudge!), but the moonlight makes observing the galaxy even more difficult. In general, deep-sky observation is best done when the Moon is below the horizon.

Coming back to you original question: try to find out when the astronomical twilight ends at your location. This happens when the Sun is 18 degrees below the horizon and is considered 'true darkness' from the viewpoint of a stargazer.

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If you don't mind looking like Long John Silver I can recommend an eye patch half an hour before you go out. It makes a big difference for me.

Edited by Spile
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On 25/01/2021 at 07:35, Waddensky said:

M31 will always be a large smudge without much detail (still, an incredibly distant smudge!), but the moonlight makes observing the galaxy even more difficult. In general, deep-sky observation is best done when the Moon is below the horizon.

Coming back to you original question: try to find out when the astronomical twilight ends at your location. This happens when the Sun is 18 degrees below the horizon and is considered 'true darkness' from the viewpoint of a stargazer.

m31 can be very good sometimes. if everything is spot on you can see dust lanes rather than a mass of light. but as you say, generally not exciting

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